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"


Questioner said...

When the admin wants a building it will put in the elevator. An elevator was added to Miller (the former McKelvy building) as part of right sizing, even though the school was found to sit on a partially subsided mine, making the whole process much more expensive.

Miller also has pervasive asbestos wall plaster. As part of right sizing students were moved into this building despite ADA, despite the partially subsided mine, and despite the asbestos, because the K-8 configuration was thought to be the key to higher achievement.

anon1 said...

Isn't it also possible that the admin wanted to avoid a very public, very contentious, outcry from the community served by Miller? I know the battle to save the Schenley building could be described in the same way, (public contentious) but the IB students served at the Schenley facility were/are kids who would have been successful in any facility.

Everything seems to boil down to equity, not to be confused with equality, as I learned in a City Paper article posted to this blog. Congratulations to the Fulton/Highland Park community preparing to do the right thing for their community and children.

Questioner said...

That does not seem to be the case since the Miller African Centered Academy was at the Miller school, which had no asbestos plaster. It was moved to McKelvey (which is now called Miller), a building that does have asbestos plaster. The McKelvey building is the one that lacked the elevator. Apparently the community served by Miller liked the old building, which had particular historic significance to them, and liked the K-5 configuration at the original Miller.