Letters to the editor/North
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Over-crowding threatened if NA closes Peebles
The North Allegheny School District administration has recommended closing Peebles Elementary School in McCandless. My son attends another school in the district and there are currently 32 students in his 4th grade class. Parents have requested that the administration do something -- a third section, aides, a half-time teacher --but we have been told again and again nothing can be done. There are eight elementary classrooms with 30 or more students across the district. The administration has shown that current class size for grades 3-5 is 26.2. Under their new plan, the target is 28 -- yet my son's class already has 32 students.
Why does North Allegheny know better than the Pennsylvania Department of Education? The state recommends a class size of 25 in the elementary grades.
Isn't the district aware that raising class sizes and closing a school gives the perception that this district is in a state of decline? I understand that there is a deficit, but putting my children's educational experience at risk is not the way to fix it.
Savings 'insignificant' against impact on students
I was born in Beaver County and have lived in the Pittsburgh area most of my life. When my husband and I wanted to buy a home several years ago, we specifically chose one in the North Allegheny School District because of its excellent reputation.
Now the NA school board is considering closing a highly ranked elementary school, which will lead to significant redistricting.
While I know the economy is unstable, the last thing responsible adults should do is respond with school closures. This will force our children into overcrowded classrooms and jeopardize many of the essential tools they need to learn and thrive.
I am an educator and keep current on educational issues, and there is no doubt this closure would be detrimental to our children. The cost savings is insignificant, and the school board should consider a task force that can weigh other options before making this drastic decision that will affect so many families.
NA not following best practices
There is a recognized best practices process for closing a school. This process includes forming a committee of a cross-section of residents to examine the condition of every school, per-pupil operating costs, transportation costs associated with each facility and a property appraisal of each school. In making the recommendation to close Peebles Elementary School, North Allegheny School District Superintendent Raymond Gualtieri and his administration have done none of these things.
The school board leadership is not without fault.
On Sept. 12, a group of parents asked the board to create a task force to help the administration make a thoughtful, balanced recommendation.
This request was repeated Sept. 19.
On Oct.24, parents presented the board with more than 1,000 signatures from the community supporting the request. Three months later, there has still been no response by the school board, even as it entertains the recommendation to close a school.
As a parent and a taxpayer, I am terribly disappointed in the process used by the administration. They have not used basic best practices in making this important recommendation. I am also disappointed in the board leadership which consistently ignores the request to create a community task force. It is difficult to believe that a well respected school district would treat the closure of an elementary school with such a cavalier and non-responsive approach.
NA schools: Cut expenses first, close schools later
Closing Peebles Elementary School, whose students flourish among the highest in the North Allegheny district, should be a last resort after all other possible solutions have been exhausted. This has not yet occurred to the satisfaction of the community.
By eliminating an elementary school and not making budgetary reductions to all areas around the district, we are in essence placing a higher value on their importance over the youngest, most vulnerable members of our schools.
At a time when elementary students are learning the foundation of academics, we should not increase class size.
Teachers will be responsible for more students in their classrooms, and will not be able to identify and address individual needs. These early years are crucial for future success. A school closure and larger classroom size has the potential to do harm and neglect our youngest students.
There should be mandated cutbacks across the district. Our priorities need to be focused on what we can do to survive while leaving all buildings and classrooms intact. We have asked for a community task force to help in the process.
Together, we can look for other means to reduce the deficit the district is facing.
As a North Allegheny graduate, I have chosen to stay and raise my children in the district because I know the excellence our name represents. We must do our best to continue this legacy, and not make a quick decision to sever a vital asset in our community.
First Published January 3, 2013 5:21 am