Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Oliver renovation to cost 25M

School reconfiguration materials prepared by the district show that the projected capital cost for Oliver HS is $25M. The district expects an enrollment of 300 - 500 students.

Schenley enrolled about 3 times more students, but renovation costs of 3 x $25M ($75M) were descrbed as too expensive- even though by all the measures the district has at various times used to justify school closings Schenley far outperformed Oliver:

Enrollment (Schenley 100%, Oliver seriously underenrolled)

Achievement (achievement in all subcategories greater at Schenley)

School Performance Index (Schenley a 3, Oliver only a 2 http://www.rand.org/pubs/working_papers/2005/RAND_WR315-1.pdf)

Location (Schenley central while administration acknowledges that it will be difficult to attract students to Oliver)


Anonymous said...

Please read the enclosed articles-PPS PR knows how to play the public off with confusing data and cloud the facts.

IT should be” Just the facts Jack.”

This Lisa Fiscehtti –sorry about the spelling -and her PR knowledge need to start highlighting the negatives as well-or roll all the facts in a better summation.

In addition, our Current School Board President Madame Colazzi –sorry about the spelling-needs to have ISLER stop calling her shots.
ISLER handpicked this PR person-she needs to work somewhere e else and quit collecting a PPS Paycheck from our taxpayer base.

She would be one of the first ADM to go into the sunset on a horse.

Isler needs to let the present School Board President be the boss-he Isler needs to take up other public service work-and take a mule into the sunset.
Read and decipher-the two articles=they can be interpreted as a waste of our federal, state, and local tax dollars.

Roosevelt is definitely racing to the top of the heap to give him money to waste without any credible data to prove his worth as the head Honcho of PPS.

City school reforms to cost $26 million
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10215/1077166-53.stm#ixzz0vWEqinba

Pittsburgh Public Schools projects need put at $44 million

Anonymous said...

Is any other school district throwing money, (tax or grant) at any and all programs at this rate? The grant and federal money are only put in place for a few years then what? Plus all the money is going to bust up unions, ss, I mean't to "train teachers".

We will be down to 4 schools in 4years at this rate, and have nothing but long gone administrators, a broken community and economy.

Thanks current PPS Board and administrators, you can go down in history as the one that ruined (shiny rebirth) Pittsburgh. The administrators will leave town in a hurry and very wealthy! (We are lining their pockets.) But the board members will have to live here since they will hve lost their regular jobs, and homes and beauty salons will be worth nothing.

What a shame. I am angry at myself for believing this change, changer changiest thing had value for so long.

I guess I am changry! ;)

Questioner said...

Here's the link to the Tribune article announcing that PPS projects will cost $44M:


And because projects are once again being proposed and approved piecemeal, readers may believe that it would be $44M and then we are done for a reasonable number of years- when in reality, the cost for many schools identified as needing "major renovation" such as Perry are not included in the $44M figure. The $44M is just for this particular phase of activity.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Face it, the Oliver HS building's location can't match that of the Schenley HS building / location. The district seems to be cashing out on value of location -- and the kids are getting the worse end of the bargain.

Likewise, why close Reizenstein as a PPS asset? Reizenstein / Schenley / Obama is in another prime location near Ellis, near Mellon Park, near Bakery Square, near Shadyside, on PENN AVE, with rehab streets now, with plenty of surface parking and space for expansion.

Meanwhile, the PPS plan calls for te stuffing of the Girls and Boys Academy, with 6-12 grades, both genders, into Westinghouse, farther from the center of the city, deeper into an area marked with violence.

I'd LOVE to see PPS retain Reizenstein as a school property. I'd love to see Schenley return as a school too -- but oh well.

Think again. Put the All City Public Boys HS in Peabody. Put the All City Public Girls HS in Westinghouse. Fix up Schenley and make that the place for Vo Tech. Close Oliver then. Reizenstein can be for IB with the addition of an auditorium and gym.

There must be better ways to save money, keep value with the district so people want to send their students to our schools, and NOT sell off the future potential.

We want to send our kids to schools in locations that make sense for the greater community.

Stewardship for schools.

Questioner said...

All of these ideas are worthy of real public consideration and debate. Instead, we have gotten fragmented committees with members chosen by the district, often with meetings closed to the public, and fragmented, circumscribed community meetings.

Questioner said...

Also, this is a district that does not learn from its mistakes. The proposed $25M+ investment in Oliver is reminiscent of the 30M investment in Westinghouse not too long ago.

Prove that a proposed program at a particular location is attracting strong enrollment and produce strong results BEFORE making major capital investment. Wouldn't it have been better to know if the University Prep concept was working and attracting students before pumping $15-20M into that building?

Anonymous said...

Oops.. And 20/20 in 4sight too.

I am waiting for Jack Nicholson to yell "You can't handle the truth"

Questioner said...

This comment from Anonymous is being reposted after an edit necessary to comply with our blog's posting guidelines:

Five/six years ago we moved here with so much optimism. I am generally a pessimist, (Eeyorish) I am trying my best to hang in there, and to stay positive. I feel like I have, actually my kids have been bamboozled. (I can't curse here!)

I believe,(without drama) this layered (Broad/Gates) "*venture capitalism" is such an oxymoron, yet nobody questions it. *Eli Broad's words not mine. If this fails it will devastate this city. Why is it ok for us to play the lottery
with our kids and tax money? Zero proven success.

The failure of our public schools will be devastating to this city, community and parents. I don't see an "if".

The Superiorintendent didn't have the cajones, (or he misread his job title) to step up and simply say, "I can meet with the parents and community on xyz date" Or even the courtesy of pretending he cared.

At that board meeting last month. He let [the board president] lead/make that decision for him. Collezi has his back. The board has all the power, yet the emperor with no clothes has them all by the balls. The board (minus one or two)has become a protective fence around this politician who will be bolting as soon as he can. This charade cannot last forever.

He didn't want to attend that meeting nor any meeting that may make him think on his feet. He is ignoring the population he pretends to care for. It is pathetic, yet ok for reasons I do not understand on any level.

It feels like he will only show up at the East side meeting if
the the board approves the army, navy, marines and coast guard,FBI, pope-mobile rental, swat teams and CIA agree to his terms, and of course that would cost the city a few
more million dollars. (chump change MR style)

Most of the funding is going to train teachers. (when in doubt blame teachers. ) It makes no sense, urban kids that live in poverty need quick effective intervention. Once the kids hit a certain age the chances of them succeeding dramatically reduces.

I am tired and so disappointed, and I miss feeling optimism. I have no reason to feel optimistic about this administration.

I feel like PPS is out of sync with real life and Pittsburgh. I am not certain anyone in charge cares. That frighten's me.

I was so excited and expressed my thoughts and optimism. I was told by so many people when I moved here that nothing would change, I thought they were jaded, and things were going to change.

Hinsight is 20/20

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:39, I emphasize with you. You are not alone. We can turn this around at the ballot box. Next time a board member is up for re-election, vote him out. Next time a city councilman is up for re-election, vote him out. You need to be vigilant and detemined.

This group can find viable candidates. Have the candidates sign a contract to meet the concerns of parents and their children. Select candidates with real experience.

Questioner said...

Term limits and pay for board members might also help.

Anonymous said...


What if a decent board member is elected? Would you want to lose that member?

Pay? I am conflicted with this idea. Perhaps, a stipend but not a sslary. Taxpayers are strapped enough. Besides, board members do not meet enough to warrant a salary. Originally, the purpose of the board was an altruistic one. Over time it has been preverted. Members use it to gain and advance employment for family members a/o to intimidate teachers who have their child in class.

Questioner said...

Say there was a 2 term, 8 year limit- that would provide plenty of time to benefit from the presence of a particular board member. A stipend would be fine, since board duties can be carried out working less than full time.

Questioner said...

We are told that the Hill feeder pattern has been quietly adjusted so that areas previously assigned to Brashear are now assigned to Milliones, where enrollment was mucfh weaker than projected.

It remains to be seen whether ever expanding feeder patterns will in the long run fill unpopular schools.

Anonymous said...

Questioner @ August 4, 2010 11:17 AM

This sounds like SEGREGATION in the finest form.

Brashear will be the NEW TEACHER ACADEMY, thus they want to rid the school of the “zip codes” that cause low scores and the potential troublemakers.

THat is what PPS is indirectly
stating with thids move of fedder pattern.

The poor and low achieving students from those “zip codes.”

This eliminates the famed bus rides that have been going to Brashear from the Hill for 30 years.

Thus, both schools will not be counted toward AYP-a little extra perk here for Roosevelt ADM.


UPREP is half magnet and half of all the Zip Codes from PPS East and now South Schools –the expanded neighborhood feeder patterns-remember Westinghouse students are supposed to be part of the feeder pattern if they
are not part of the single gender program?

Anonymous said...

Mark Rauterkus said... @. August 3, 2010 10:29 PM

Are you talking about Oliver and the NORTH SIDE with your negative feeling tone?

There are many great parents and students from the North Side.
Many people live in the NORTH SIDE–Franco Harris, our Mayor, City Council President, and our future Governor Onorato.

I do not want to go into politico with you Mr. Stewardship. So if you like them or not –I do not want to go into it-my concern is the North Side and ALL OF THE CITY OF PGH PPS PARENTS AND STUDENTS.

Schenley is closed and it is very sad old news.

Nevertheless, the North Side has many great attributes and CCAC is half a mile away from Oliver.
Next, you will interpret Oliver is close to the Casino.


Anonymous said...

O:K Questioner,

A method to remove a self-serving, destructive board member needs to be put in place too.

Anonymous said...

I know feeder patterns are a cause for debate, but some think (ok, in this case "some" would just be me, lol) feeder patterns should be adjusted based on population shifts. There are neighborhoods that were once considered "swing" and kids would be shifted from one school to another. Perhaps allowing for Brashear as the teacher academy forced a change of feeder.

Questioner said...

It was one thing to shift between two comprehensive schools, but here kids are being moved from a diverse comprehensive school with wide range of offerings to a much more limited themed school without significant racial or socioeconomic diversity. And the reason kids need to be moved is not so much a sudden shift in population between the time U Prep was planned and the present, but because U Prep has not attracted the expected enrollment.

thinkingoutloud said...

Picking up on the thought of "expected enrollment" I am concerned that the Oliver programs won't attract the numbers to warrant a $25M investment. Doing a 180 here, but I am also concerned that jobs in the trades are not plentiful enough locally to warrant a massive investment. Do we have union members in trades currently without jobs? I get that the state has requirements to be met to meet career and technical status, but what do we really need?

Questioner said...

The expected enrollment is about 400 (range of 300 to 500). Does that justify 25M?

A $64M investment for about 1300 Schenley students (later said to have ballooned to 80M due to rising construction costs, but now probably back down to the original figure) was described as a decision that would "saddle the public with debt."

Annette Werner said...

To save money- couldn't we put the CTE program in Westinghouse or Peabody as recommended by the East End panel rather than in Oliver (since Westinghouse and Peabody already have considerable CTE facilities) and any boys/girls academies at Oliver?

It is true that Oliver needs renovation anyway, but a basic renovation should cost much less than adding CTE space.

Mark Rauterkus said...

The best way to get rid of the self-serving folks on the PPS board (to use a term from others above) is with a rule change.

Those that serve on the school board should NOT be eligible for any other ballot position while ON the school board and for two years following their last day on the board.

A similar rule is in effect elsewhere (i.e. Maine) with others in various positions (executive employees).

Change the Home Rule Charter to: "Running for partisan office. PPS Board Members may not be a candidate for elective office in a partisan public election while on the board and for two years following."

This makes the PPS Board a terminal position and would insure that PPS Board service would NOT be a 'stepping stone' to other elected offices. Those who seek power by getting a school board position would go elsewhere.

A two term limit is okay too. However, that limit allows for more power to reside with the administration rather than with the voters and the revolving board members.

Another great solution: NOTA on every ballot. NONE OF THE ABOVE should be listed on all ballots. Then if NOTA wins, another election with different candidates has to occur.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Anonymous of 10:29 PM wrote a wacky question:

Are you talking about Oliver and the NORTH SIDE with your negative feeling tone?

Say what? "Negative feeling tone" is your burden, perhaps, but not mine. Get a grip.

Of course there are great people on the North Side.

Re-read what I wrote then re-ask a question if it makes sense if you must.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Mr. Mark Rauterkus said...
Face it, the Oliver HS building's location can't match that of the Schenley HS building / location. The district seems to be cashing out on value of location -- and the kids are getting the worse end of the bargain.”

I am not wacky----

the Oliver HS building's location can't match that of the Schenley HS building –you can interpret this as more than just location for transportation. In addition, the kids are getting the worse end of the bargain-hey, you need to quit living in the past sir and deal with the future of our kids and their[potential high school choices. Mr. Wacky‼

Start reading the Pa State laws at the Dept of Education web site and US DEPT OF ED for federal laws regarding reconstruction of school buildings- yes tons of stimulus money-there is a lot of money from stimulus that can flow into PPS.

I think you need to investigate. An yes a North Sider would take that as a insulting.
Sorry, I do really feel bad about Schenley closed-and this is not sarcastic –but that was a mistake n many parameters of this PPS ADM.

Many PPS schools are full of asbestos-like Manchester and we can name more-but it is kept under the carpet

August 8, 2010 12:04 PM

Mark Rauterkus said...

A wacky question and you being wacky are different. I didn't call you wacky -- yet.

Oliver vs. Schenley, as per my thread, and this global discussion is about: 1) location, 2) location, and 3) location.

Transportation counts, perhaps 4th.

I'm talking about VALUE of the property. The land. The central to Oakland, western PA's #2 job hub. And, a blink from Pitt and UPMC -- source of the first $50M of Pgh Promise funds.

Talking of Schenley isn't living in the past. Schenley is still there. Schenley could re-open in a far-fetched universe. And, if you don't know and understand history, expect to repeat the same mistakes in the future.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Rauterkus please read the following web sites and digest the new rules to acquire money for the past TWO years regarding renovation and constructional additions.

Sci Tech used the laws by placing a PREK in the site for costs to be written off or all the change over from Frick to SCI Tech -it defrayed all the building costs.

The old Frick School Building- has been renovated how many times?
Start reading the Pa State laws at the Dept of Education web site and US DEPT OF ED for federal laws regarding reconstruction of school buildings- yes tons of stimulus money-there is a lot of money from stimulus that can flow into PPS.

I think you need to investigate. READ the statutes and laws as a waste to acquire money.

They could’ve have done it for Schenley.

HORACE MANN WAS CLOSED for TEN YEARS than reopened and closed all due to a power of a board to reopen it.

It has been closed almost 5 years and is an eye sore to the community.

As A NORTH sIDER I AM Tired of the dismantling and closing of our schools in the PPS System

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is better to leave the asbestos under the carpet. Literally! Removing asbestos from buildings is more detrimental to the health of the community than leaving under wraps. That is why all these school closings, reopenings, renovations, and etc. are scams.

The oldest scam in the book to gain control is to put fear in the hearts of people and to claim that it is for the good of the children.

This administration is full of nothing but wussie scammers.