The city school board last night agreed to try a new gifted program at five Pittsburgh Public Schools.
The three-year pilot program is slated to begin next school year at Pittsburgh Colfax K-8, Squirrel Hill; Pittsburgh Dilworth PreK-5, East Liberty; Pittsburgh Fort Pitt PreK-5, Garfield; and Pittsburgh Northview PreK-5.
In addition to those schools, previously identified at a board Education Committee meeting, the board last night added Pittsburgh Grandview K-5, Allentown, to the project.
The addition came after board members Jean Fink and Sherry Hazuda said the pilot lacked representation from the city's southern and western neighborhoods.
Currently, elementary students classified as gifted are removed from their home schools one day a week for special classes at the gifted center in the West End. Under the pilot, they're to receive gifted instruction five days a week in their home schools.
"I think five-day-a-week enrichment is going to do more for those young people," Mrs. Fink said.
During the pilot, gifted students at other elementary schools will continue attending classes one day a week at the West End center.
Board members Mark Brentley Sr. and Randall Taylor abstained, saying they had reservations about the proposal. Mr. Taylor said he fears the quality of instruction will vary from school to school.
"I think we're taking a step in the wrong direction," Mr. Taylor said.
The board also approved contract increases for three architectural firms working on renovations to the former Milliones Middle School building, Hill District; the former Reizenstein Middle School building, Shadyside; and the building housing the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Downtown.
Contract amounts for the three firms were increased from a combined $600,000 to a combined $2.3 million.
The CAPA building is slated to merge with Pittsburgh Rogers 6-8, Garfield, in fall 2009. The other buildings are slated to take high school students next school year, in part because of maintenance problems at Pittsburgh Schenley High School in Oakland.
Joe Smydo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1548.