Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Looking elsewhere

On the December "Start a new post," Anonymous wrote:

Look at what is happening at high schools elsewhere, that go beyond test preparation and offer things like video production (it's worth watching the creative and entertaining videos mentioned in this link):

December 23, 2009 12:02 AM

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hearing on Monday re: closing of Rooney

From the PG:

- Beyond Rooney is the issue of continued piecemeal closings without an overall equitable, logical and comprehensive plan for schools and where they will be located.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Foundations will pay $200k in taxes for superintendent

From the PG:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Factors for merit pay plan

From the PG:

Monday, December 14, 2009


On the December "Start a new post" Anonymous wrote:

"From the HP newsletter:

Au revoir Fulton?

Pittsburgh Public Schools recently released a facilities study by DeJong that recommends closing Fulton Elementary. All Highland Park residents and home owners have a vested interest in keeping Fulton open.

In a separate report, A+ schools indicates Fulton student performance continues to increase (3rd gr. Reading 76%, 3rd gr. Math 78%, 5th gr. Math 89%). The principal, Mr. Kevin Bivins, has been leading and succeeding in his efforts to turn around and improve the school. As parents of a Fulton first-grader, we have been and continue to be happy with the education our daughter receives.

When my husband and I moved to Pittsburgh we looked for a neighborhood that would be family friendly. We fell in love with Highland Park. We’ve had such positive experiences with raising our children here: taking them to the playground, birthday parties or Jazz in the park, and bicycle parades on the 4th of July.

When our older daughter, Helena, was in pre-school at St. Andrews we began learning more about the magnet lottery. We weighed pros and cons for the Dilworth, Liberty, and Montressori magnets as well as the relocated French magnet at Fulton. We were very interested in her having a foreign language. To preview every school we had to schedule during a specific week, except at Fulton.

Mr. Bivins, the principal at Fulton French Magnet School was at the Bryant Street Festival. I asked, “When could I schedule to see the school?” His response? “You can’t. I want you to come in whenever you want. I want parents to see my school at any time”.

Helena’s kindergarten experience exceeded our expectations. Since Mr. Bivins has taken over as principal the reading and math scores have improved dramatically. He has made tough choices to resolve the previous 5th grade gap in reading performance. For the first time in 20 years Fulton has a waiting list for kindergarten. Attendance is up at all grade levels. As Fulton French Magnet School continues to improve it is also growing as an asset to our community.

The Highland Park community attracts young families for the same reasons we chose this wonderful neighborhood. Having not one, but two high quality schools in the neighborhood is a definite draw. As homeowners, we have watched our property values rise steadily as the entire neighborhood has been revitalized.

The recommendation to close the school is largely based on two significant and expensive maintenance issues. First is the addition of an elevator to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Second, the DeJong report claims a total replacement of the slate roof is required. According to the report the Fulton repairs would total an estimated $10.9 million.

If Fulton were to close, the current students would be forced to go to Fort Pitt ALA, K-5 in Garfield Heights. In comparison, the required repairs the DeJong report recommends for Fort Pitt are estimated to total $14 million.

To help insure that this report does not spell the end of the Fulton French Magnet Elementary school in our community, please take 5 minutes and make the following phone calls.

call Mark Roosevelt, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent at 412-622-3600
call Dara Ware-Allen, our School Board Representative at 412-622-3500

Efforts to keep Fulton French Magnet Elementary open are being spearheaded by Tiffany Best. For more information and other ways you can help call Tiffany at 412-726-9300 or e-mail

We wish to thank to the Highland Park Community Club for their time and support with this issue of critical importance to our entire neighborhood.

For more information about this story please feel free to contact us:
Michelle Boyle
Ray Roberts"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Merit pay plan for teachers

From the PG:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"America's best high schools"

PG report on US News list of best high schools. PPS on the list are CAPA in the gold category and Brashear in the bronze category.

One year community planning process

On the December "Start a new post," Annette Werner wrote:

"At a meeting on the North Side called by Board member Mark Brentley, community members expressed strong support for the idea of a one year moratorium on school closings to allow time for a city wide community planning process.

Concerns included North Side middle school students not in a magnet having no option other than Arsenal Middle School in Lawrenceville, and Oliver High School students not in a magnet having no option other than crossing a river to Langley."

Gender specific classes

At this week's legislative review, administrative staff mentioned that gender specific classes had begun at Milliones 6-8 and Westinghouse grade 9.

Board member Mark Brentley noted that the Board had been not been told that gender spcific classes were beginning and that he felt the Board should have been informed or even consulted. The district solicitor quickly noted that there was no legal requirement to inform Board members (or presumably the public) about this type of change.

It does seem strange not to tell a community in advance that their children's classes would become gender specific and to seek input on the topic. Some Westinghouse parents have reportedly complained about higher levels of fighting in the boys' classes and girls feeling left out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not free money

From the PG:

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said today that if the city's universities can't identify $5 million in contributions to his government's operations by Monday, he will urge city council to vote for a 1 percent tuition tax on Wednesday.

"If they come up with a $5 million annual contribution to the city of Pittsburgh, we would in turn be willing to remove the Fair Share Tax from the table," he said, using his term for the tuition levy.

He said the figure is less than the $6 million-per-year contribution he believes the city's tax-exempt institutions agreed to in 2004, and represents just one-third of the $15 million the city needs to replenish its pension fund. Not just the universities, but other tax-exempt institutions could contribute to a $5 million contribution, he said, adding that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center might be excused due to its $10 million-a-year pledge to the Pittsburgh Promise for college tuition aid.

Read more:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

NAACP Protests

From the New Pittsburgh Courier:

The article explains that the goal of the 7 week marches is to prompt the school board and administrators to take action agains the racial achievement gap and differences in the way students are treated. According to the NAACP education committee, closing the gap means devoting more resources to black students, hiring better qualified teachers and ensuring that black students are expected to meet higher standards.

Milliones/ U Prep

Article about Milliones in the New Pittsburgh Courier:

A few interesting points. The article notes that the school offers all middle school sports and next year will offer all high school sports. It also answers the question of how they are managing all these teams in a single school: two gymnasiums, like Brashear. The article notes that the school is designed to have "no more than 600 total students" (although with current attrition rates it will have much fewer).

In comparison the IB school has one gym for a planned 1000+ students- raising the question of whether another gym is planned but the cost not included in facilities estimates, or if the intention is to maintain this disparity in facilities.

And raising the further question of why the the need for multiple gyms was not discussed when the 6-12 configuration was first proposed.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Public hearing is on an earlier day and time this month

Due to holidays this month's public hearing is early in the month- Monday, December 7.

It is also at an earlier time: 5:45 or whenever the preceding charter public hearing beginning at 5:30 is over. Arrive early (at 5:00) to join the NAACP-led march for educational equity.

At the November 23 Town Hall meeting parents, students and community members raised concerns about a range of issues that rarely come up at board meetings. It would be good for some of these concerns to be expressed at a public hearing.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


On another post anon1 wrote:

"Another thing to take a look at is the possibility of uniforms. Waiting until new configurations are established to allow parents to vote on the topic should not be necessary. I am sorry to say Mrs. Colaizzi's objections to uniforms is all wet and has gotten old. Can't somebody convince her it is okay to lose a battle once in a while? I may have a faulty memory but I believe Mr. Brentley and Mrs. Colaizzi are in the same camp on the subject. You need only to watch the Excellence for All TV show and see the poise students in uniform project to know it is a good idea. Isn't there some data on the value somewhere?"

"One meeting"

From the PG:

In a welcome step, the district's panel will observe the open panel today at 4:00. The open panel is expected to evolve into a task force and culminate in a report to the district and the community.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Alternative panel

Yesterday's PG described a panel being formed by the district to address secondary schools in the East End. The district did not announce formation of the panel in advance or release a list of panel members, meeting dates or agenda, and meetings are closed to public observation.

In response, two board members have announced formation of an alternate committee to meet at the same time at district offices. From the PG:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Panel on east end high schools

From the PG, the District has formed a panel to discuss secondary schools in the East End.×tamp=1259666608830&javascriptEnabled=true

Once again the district has not released a list of members of the panel, and meetings are closed to the public. And, formation of the panel was not announced in advance. There seems to be a real fear of broad public awareness of these committees and how they operate.

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