Monday, March 28, 2011

PPS approached w/ concerns over U Prep

From the PG:


Questioner said...

If numbers are distributed evenly there would be maybe 160 students in the high school portion of Westinghouse.

A couple of years ago we were told that when numbers became too low it was unfair to students, because electives and activities would be limited. Peabody enrollment at a bit under 500 was "too low."

Prediction: since single gender academies were promised to students the district will propose to offer the academies, and also offer mixed gender classrooms for those who opt out of or do not choose single gender. The academies will have the more interesting teachers and bells and whistles to push students into the single gender choice.

Westinghouse will have a temporary infusion of Peabody students with nowhere else to go, but especially over time enrollment will continue to be a problem because single gender is not a strong enough pull to attract students to the school.

Questioner said...

Oh, and there will be so many mixed classes- CTE and Science and Math Academy classes are already scheduled to be mixed- that the academies will mainly be single gender in name only.

Anonymous said...

Kind of late to the topic, but how did PPS ever come up with the idea that a district of this size could support single gender academies when the location was not more central?

Anonymous said...

PPS as they have stated repeatedly needed "something" to avert the continued failures to meet AYP; thus changing the structure of the school makes it a "new" program and will not be held accountable for failure to meet AYP. It will be a start all over process that gives them three years to meet the AYP standards.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Is it safe to say that Westinghouse HS as 2 single gender academies for grades 6-12 is a flop?

What are the facts?

Can honesty prevail?

Questioner said...

Re: "how did PPS ever come up with the idea that a district of this size could support single gender academies when the location was not more central?"

- The original idea was that Westinghouse and half the Peabody area students would simply be assigned to single gender, even though legal precedents were against that practice.

Anonymous said...

Changing a school = federal money. This is the bottom line- $$. And it makes it look like problems are being addressed. I'm sure someone at Bellefield in their right mind knew this wouldn't work.

Questioner said...

We asked if GPA's had improved after students were put into single gender classrooms in the Fall of 2009; no response.

Mark Rauterkus said...

The other legacy issue for Westinghouse HS is the capital investment of the past. The school's building got a major overhaul costing plenty. ($?) Some of that money came from the Commonwealth of PA and is NOT paid back yet. ($?) However, should the building be closed, the outstanding debt would come due.

Closing the building is a very expensive option for PPS due to that "balloon repayment condition."

Selling the building, given its neighborhood location, and given the amount of other available institutional buildings in the market now (old Schenley HS in Oakland sits idle) is not going to happen.

PPS is between a rock and a hard place, by its own design via legacy decisions and prior 'investments.'

Perhaps drastic times call for drastic measures. If PA wants to cut tens of millions of dollars from PPS funding, then PPS should sidestep some "state mandates" as well. This is being talked about in a suite of new bills in PA anyway. I'd press the matter with the Gov that PPS may want to close or "mothball" Westinghouse as a building and NOT paying back PA for the privilege.

Change the rules. Bargain.

Fact finding would be welcomed too. How much debt does PPS have on WHS? How much would it save to close WHS?

However, I'm of the opinion that schools should be a lever for public renewal -- and not department stores and stadiums. I don't want to see Westinghouse HS go vacant. But, Westinghouse HS needs to thrive and be a successful school for all the right reasons -- for the students who choose to attend there.

PPS can always churn and toss younger and younger students into Westinghouse to keep Westinghouse open. Make it a Pre-K to grade 12 school. Since K-8s arrived, why not flip Westinghouse into the nations first Pre-K to grade 12 school? That would stink, but serves as another 'prediction' worth evaluation.

Or, move Bellfield and the Administration to Westinghouse.

Or, make Westinghouse a great, city-wide CTE (vo tech) school.

Or, ....

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of closed buildings we could move S.Belfield to.

We could have a bidding war on the property between Pitt and CMU.

They have hired so many more people who do not work with children they have to be running out of space. They have hired so many middle mangement types they keep wasting money remoldeling. Plus they could use a bigger room for school board meetings.

Does the district still have South High on the books it closed in 1986

Mark Rauterkus said...

Q: South Vo Tech.

A: South Vo Tech has a few different parts. The middle, big, red-brick, historic structure which once had office, classrooms, auditorium, pool, tiny gym, cafeteria, -- is SOLD. It is being developed into high-end condos.

The football stadium is still PPS.

The Annex, the yellow brick building behind the BP gas station, on the other side of the street between 10th and 11th, is still a PPS building with offices, classrooms, back parking lot for PPS police cars. That is where the welding is going to go (again?).

Anonymous said...

U/Prep/ Milliones "You can not polish a turd"

Mark thanks for info on South Vo Tech. I wonder what they sold it for? Why is that information not public?

Anonymous said...

It is public but you'd have to search. Sales price will be recapitalized with the sale of 2 or 3 condos at 600k. But the fix up costs might absorb another few sales. Not a lucrative deal for PPS or taxpayers but it does not sit empty.

Anonymous said...

South Hills HIgh School closed in 1986, not South Vo-Tech. South Hills High School has been in the development process for the last couple of years. The PPS lists 3 buildings as sold, South Vo-Tech is listed as being bid on.|4580|&NodeID=4594

Anonymous said...

This must not be a very up to date list though because East Hills is not listed as being sold- which it was- to Imani Christian Academy. It is interesting that the URA site specifically says that Schenley is NOT currently for sale.

Anonymous said...

So what IS the plan for the old Schenley building?

Anonymous said...

Why in the world would you think anyone in PPS has plans for anything?

They blame teachers, custodians, yet see no fault in how inept they are. They rubber stamp everything, hyper-stack management to cushion layers of them having to deal with students. The number of central administrators is ridiculous compared with other school districts the same size, or even a larger size.

This is a Bill Gates/ Eli Broad networking site while being paid 80+K per year. Teachers are useless to them, so are our kids.

At some point somebody has to step up and say enough.