Duquesne recovery officer says move students to other districts

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The chief recovery officer for the Duquesne City School District has recommended sending Duquesne's approximately 440 students in grades K-6 to neighboring districts on a voluntary basis for the 2013-2014 school year and shuttering the current Duquesne Elementary School.

That option, announced today, was the second of among four that Paul B. Long outlined last month as possible plans for the academically and financially failing district. The report said a community forum would be held to explain the plan, but no date has been set.

Students in grades 7-12 already attend, on a tuition basis, either East Allegheny or West Mifflin area school districts under a mandate created by state legislation in 2007. Currently there is no state law allowing for the outsourcing of elementary students.

Under Mr. Long's plan, on or about March 1, he will provide potential receiving districts with a proposal for the placement of K-6 students for the 2013-2014 school year. His plan calls for offering $8,000 per Duquesne K-6 student accepted by another district.

Statements of interest by the receiving districts are to be submitted to Mr. Long no later than March 22 and he will determine by April 15 whether the voluntary plan will work for 2013-2104.

Financial aspects of the plan include no-interest state loans to cover extraordinary costs of the implementation and to facilitate refunding of some of the district's outstanding debt.

It also calls for maintaining the district's real estate assets, which include the Duquesne Education Center and athletic center, and for maintaining a core administrative staff to direct regular and special education placements, manage finances, coordinate student transportation and provide other basic functions.

"Action must be taken now to enroll the K-6 students of Duquesne in better schools. Increased learning, improved achievement and newfound academic success are therefore to be expected for the students," the plan said.

The other three options that Mr. Long had considered were: what he termed a "baseline" option of maintaining the current K-6 school in Duquesne; a plan to send students to other districts via a mandate such as the 7-12 students; and either setting up or converting the Duquesne elementary to a charter school.

The Duquesne school board has 10 days to decide whether to approve Mr. Long's plan. If it is not approved, the matter goes to Common Pleas Court, which would appoint a receiver to carry the plan out.

If the board approves the plan, it will be submitted to state Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis, who has 10 days to review and approve it. If the secretary disapproves, Mr. Long has 20 days to revise the plan.

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Mary Niederberger: mniederberger@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1590.


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