Thursday, August 4, 2011

Oliver and Langley slated to be closed

From the PG, as expected:


Questioner said...

Northview is also on the closing list. Weren't extensive renovations announced for Northview before MR left?

The idea of putting a K-8 in Langley is a little strange; there is a mismatch with so many students attending buildings designed for very different age groups.

With closings announced so close to the start of a new school year, there is little time for students who do not want to start at a school that is expected to close to make other arrangements.

Questioner said...

From the Tribune:

- The article reports that the district has made only about a third of the cuts needed to balance the budget (it is not clear how the cuts proposed today figure in to the equation). It is hard to see where these cuts will come from; hard to see how we will be able to sustain PELA's, multiple principals, directors, Broad interns, consultants, etc.

Anonymous said...

From what I understood, the closings would be 2012-13 school year. Decision to be determined in November this school year, after pretending to listen to parents and communities' concerns.

I agree with you Questioner about the odd mix of students to buildings. Why send the younger students to the school in the worst neighbor where a decapitated girl was dumped in a dumpster at Langley? The neighborhood area is not that safe yet.

Anonymous said...

The expense of turning a high school into an elementary school isn't cheap. Have they figured the plumbing, locker & gym adjustment costs into the equation?

Lisa Jones 4 School Board said...

Questioner, I have two similar letters to the editor to be published this month in the Post-Gazette and the Trib regarding the exact concerns you mentioned in you 5:15 post. Please look for it.

In my letters, I expose the cost cutting as a shell game, and that the administration cuts in central office where not cuts at all.

Anonymous said...

I wonder where all of the children in the Garfield area will go to Elementary School. Wherever it is will require extensive bussing. Or will they be assigned to Friendship Montessori? Could be a good thing if Friendship remains a Montessori school. Isn't that a Special School or Magnet School? Will it remain as such or is this a way to get ALL schools into a "managed" curriculum which so far has definitely proven to be a failure.

There are hundreds of new homes beginning to open within several hundred yrds of Fort Pitt ALA___with children inhabiting this new Garfield Heights Commons homes.

There are three ALAs closing!?!? Hmmmmmm!?!!
I wonder what part the new 2011 PSSA scores had on these decisions?

Murray is also an ALA and it is closing. So is Northview an ALA. (And Questioner is right a lot of money was designated for new construction at Northview ALA.

Do you think that the new Propel School on the Northside is attracting great numbers from the Northview ALA population?

By the way, a Propel representative announced over and over at one of the A+ Schools meetings that Propel intends to establish schools in Homewood and the Hill District also!

WOW! I wonder why all of the PPS urban area students are fleeing our schools?

Questioner said...

PPS just looks like it doesn't know which way it is headed from one day to the next.

A big splashy renovation is announced for Northview, then less than a year later the school is scheduled for closing. A major new program and renovations is announced for Oliver (Gateway/ Big Picture), then the next thing we know that school is closing too. A million dollar architectural fee is approved for Langley, then suddenly the building is scheduled to change from a HS to a K-8; is any of the architectural work for a HS relevant now?

It seems problematic to allow major changes in direction and changes in plans as each new superintendent comes in. If the Board set a thoughtful, consistent course then superintendents would be charged with implementing a single plan rather than overhauling arrangements with each new superintendent.

Disgusted Taxpayer said...


Let's put two and two together. So the district approves a charter for the Propel for the North Side, backs off of the renovation of Northview, rents Columbus for only a year to Propel, then comes back announces Northview is closing?

Hmmm...sounds like a back room deal was cut months ago to turn Northview over to Propel.

Is the PPS plan to send the Northview students that do not choose Propel to King?

The layout of King makes it a nightmare to manage with the pods. Tons of "dead spots" between the pods for kids to hide and create mischief.

The more I watch of this the more I am convinced that the end game of the Gates/Broad is absolute school choice, with Pittsburgh being a City of Charter Schools.

Bulldog Forever said...

Lisa Jones:

Glad to see you on the blog.

A change in governance, followed by a change in leadership, driving a back to basics approach is our hope.

I trust you have followed the Westinghouse Alumni Association's "How we got where we are series" closely. Lots of rich material for you.

Disgusted Parent said...

...and still the only plan we have seen laid out - almost six months after the Governor released his budget - is the WAA 40 point action plan.

How is it that WAA can develop a plan to close the gap - I'm not saying it is sunshine and roses - and PPS is bleeding a slow death?

What good was the $50,000/month contract with the newly-formed company (established the day they started working for PPS)? Why won't Dr. Lane give us a comprehensive plan?

With a budget gap this large, we may not like to hear this, but frankly more measures needed to be taken during 2011-12 and not put off until 2012-13.

Anonymous said...

And Pittsburgh's Elected School Board Members are facilitating what appears to have been a conspiracy on the fast track?!?!

Wittingly or unwittingly? What is your guess?

Anonymous said...

Here are more details from the PPS website:

Closings: PPS Announcement

Building a Sustainable District

Anonymous said...

I am not sure about the new housing in the area- but Ft. Pitt was built for about 800 students- it now has 183. Northview has 284.
Despite the "broad babble about small intimate schools," schools that are that small cant have the classes, etc that larger schools have. Yes Northview has been remodeled a few times-- the library has a tree in it-- to gather and rad to children under it. Quite attractive-- they took a read tree and coated the trunk etc with resin. Also, after the last right- sizing, some schools are bursting at the seams.

Anonymous said...

NOTICE that in PPS Releases/Announcement the Fort Pitt ALA, Murray ALA, and Northview ALA all of which are now CLOSING no longer lists these with ALA in the title.

Milliones were spent on the ALAs with longer hours, more school days per year and selected, highly paid faculties with additional AC consultants did NOT, contrary to PPS PR, did NOT improve achievement overall for students in these schools.

Anonymous said...

Disgusted Taxpayer said: "The more I watch of this the more I am convinced that the end game of the Gates/Broad is absolute school choice, with Pittsburgh being a City of Charter Schools. "

This is absolutely part of the "ed reform" agenda and we've actually, to this point, lagged behind a lot of places in the rush to charterize. Boston, NYC, LA and of course, New Orleans are far ahead with the process.

However, there will always have to be a few public schools left, of course. There has to be a place for charters to send back the children they don't want.


Or, google any highly touted charter school and see what their attrition through 6-8th grade or 6th-9th grade is.

Anonymous said...

I did notice that lack of ALA.

That leaves which ALAs? Colfax and King?

Check the drop down "schools" list at the PPS website. There's no mention of ALA on there anymore.

Anonymous said...

And the Director or Ass't Superintendent for ALAs (Elementary Schools) is not Superintendent for Secondary Schools?????

Anonymous said...

Dropping the ALA from the official school name?

What happened to the Communications and Marketing team's very, very, very expensive branding campaign?

What's next? Are they going to remove the rainbow stripes from the blue technology repair vans?

Lisa Jones 4 School Board said...

Thanks Bulldog for the warm welcome, and yes I have been paying close attention for sometime. I find this site to be rich with authentic material. I especially enjoy the "How We Got Here..." series. Please keep it coming.

Anonymous said...

Lisa Jones,

Do you happen to have a friend or relative that would run against Colaizzi? ;). I hope you win. We need accountability which is lacking on the board.

I am interested if anyone from any form of media is interested in what you have to say. This is too important to be reduced to, "Letters To The Editor" section of print media. Wrong demographic, since it scews older. I believe unless taxes are raised most residents don't even think about PPS, and some that do care have given up.

The apathy of media & voters is sad and seems to give a free pass to incumbents. Are you given a public platform to run a campaign?

Questioner said...

Updated PG article:

Some Fort Pitt kids will go to Woolslair. Woolslair is a cute building but has serious asbestos plaster issues. When the district wants to keep a school it can patch and plaster like it has always done, right?

Questioner said...

At least the district is no longer claiming that enrollment loss is due to population decline (admitting that at least since 2002 population stabilized).

Anonymous said...

It is impossible to blame the decline since 2002 (38,000 students) on charters alone.

Lisa Jones 4 School Board said...

Anon 1:11

I am working on the public platform as we speak. If you or anyone else who frequents this site and lives (friends/family) in School District 6 would like to invite me to speak at their organization, i'd be happy to oblige. Please visit my website for contact information. Thank you.

Questioner said...

Tribune article:

- Again, attributing closings to the state budget cuts.

Anonymous said...

No one is blaming the decline on Charters. The growth of charters however is due to the "decline" in the teaching and learning process in PPS.

Academic achievement and advancement has declined in PPS since 2003 when, in fact, there should have been at least a 10 percentage points improvement every three years given the depth of understanding about the "thinking skills" needed to improve achievement.

When a district outright defies the process, and refuses free assistance from the state because it has another agenda which benefits only adults, our children and our future are PUT at risk.

(There are FACTS to support every statement herein.)

Veteran Teacher said...

to anon 11;24

You said: The growth of charters however is due to the "decline" in the teaching and learning process in PPS.

Let me add one more thing: the decline in safety and order.

Many families are leaving the PPS because they perceive the schools to be no longer as safe and orderly as they once were.

And those families would be correct.

Anonymous said...

The "decline" is due to all the experiments PPS under MR has undertaken.

Anonymous said...

To 1:43
Yes, I would agree. Let me submit, however, that where the TEACHING and LEARNING create SUCCESS for children you will find a correspondingly improved safe and orderly environment. (Experience has taught this to many of us.)

Children, all children, respond in kind to the environment, expectations, and successful opportunities that are created for them and with them!

We are losing that in PPS. Hopefully, it will not be a permanent loss since it is one we cannot afford!

Anonymous said...

That makes about 35 buildings that have closed in the past 5 years or so. Is this correct?

I don't believe it is all because of charter schools. Many parents do not like the direction the Administration is taking our district.

Anonymous said...

1:43 said "Let me add one more thing: the decline in safety and order.

Many families are leaving the PPS because they perceive the schools to be no longer as safe and orderly as they once were.

And those families would be correct."


10-15 years ago, I would encourage people "worried" about the PPS to just go to their neighborhood school. I knew that even those parents who thought that they'd only maybe consider a magnet school would be very pleasantly surprised at their neighborhood school.

I would have to be a lot more specific now and I can't recommend the current curriculum, especially in the way it is being administered.

PELAs in particular seem to miss the need for structure and consistent discipline in schools. Many are like bad parents, frightened that their children won't love them if they set rules. They miss the fact that many children will test limits -- primarily to find out where they are. If they are continually changing or being loosened...they'll keep pushing.

Children given clear limits are much more likely to settle in and...learn. While individual teachers can maintain a solid classroom, the school has to do its part too -- dealing with hallways, lunchrooms, recess, bathrooms and bus issues.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that ", that where the TEACHING and LEARNING create SUCCESS for children you will find a correspondingly improved safe and orderly environment. (Experience has taught this to many of us.)"
What is needed in PPS is a"safe and orderly environment" SO THAT TEACHING AND LEARNING CAN OCCUR"
The students have not changed--it is the total lack on consequences, The students will tell you that no matter what a student does- NOTHING HAPPENS. Every parent, when confronted with their child saying soemthing happened asks the question," what did the teacher do? what did the principal do?" Most parnts dont know that teachers are told that they "lose their power" when they send a disruotive student to the office to attempt to have an orderly classroom.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Saturday's PG speaks of 2 community meetings to rally folks about the PPS and the suggested closings.

The done deal mentality kills Pgh and the media insures it.

Bulldog Forever said...

The school closing plan is actually on the light side of what the district pledged it would do in the July 31, 2009 Empowering Effective Teachers plan submitted to the Gates' Foundation.

To assist President Hazuda and others who mistakenly are blaming the latest state budget for the school closings PPS just announced, let's turn to page 53 of the Gates' proposal:

"A facilities optimization study will be completed this fall. Based on its findings, we will devise a plan that addresses, among other items, building consolidation and teacher distribution. Due to projected enrollment decline, we anticipate having to close buildings. While we do not yet know the number, historical district consolidations and current enrollment trends suggest an estimated annual savings of $6-11M, beginning in 2012-13."

While we are in the process of correcting amnesia, let's turn to page 12 of the Gates' proposal:

"By awarding scholarships to eligible PPS students of up to $5,000 annually for four years, which will increase to $10,000 annually in 2012—regardless
of family income—The Pittsburgh Promise aims to reduce declining enrollment, raise the district’s collective post-secondary aspirations for students, provide a model PreK-16 educational
system, and revitalize the City of Pittsburgh."

I couldn't help but notice that Dr. Lane and others are now claiming that one of the key goals of the Pittsburgh Promise wasn't enrollment. Ummmm Dr. Lane, it not only was a goal, it was the first goal listed in your marketing materials.

Disgusted Taxpayer said...

Did anyone else notice that Dr. Lane claimed at the press conference that the Pittsburgh Promise was not about trying to stem enrollment decline?


The Allegheny Institute called this shot right two years ago:

"The expected future enrollment slide was the principal reason for the creation of the Pittsburgh Promise college scholarship program. Hoping to reverse the slide, the District, along with the Mayor and corporate leaders, promised all graduating students from the City a college scholarship if they met certain academic requirements. This program was modeled after one in Kalamazoo, Michigan where enrollment after three years climbed by 15 percent. It's been four years since the inception of Pittsburgh's Promise and enrollment has continued to fall, dropping 16 percent-the exact opposite of the Michigan experience."

"While the Superintendent has suggested the decline in enrollment is a result of the decline in City population, the facts don't support that contention. The City's enrollment has been dropping at a significantly faster rate than population. Since the last census, Pittsburgh has lost 7.3 percent of its population while District enrollment fell at four times that rate. There are explanations for this. First, families with children are moving out at a disproportionately faster rate than families without school age children or individuals with no children. Second, increasing numbers of parents are choosing non-public schools or home schooling."

In fact, the 2nd annual community report on the Promise made it quite clear that enrollment was the 1st goal:

"The UPMC/Pittsburgh Promise Report Card includes data, results and stories to support the program's three long term goals: (1) mitigate and reverse population declines in the City of Pittsburgh and enrollment declines in Pittsburgh Public Schools; (2) grow the high school completion rates, college readiness, and post high school success of all students in Pittsburgh Public Schools and (3) deploy a well-prepared and energized work force and an eager core of community supporters."

"I have faith, given the implementation of The Pittsburgh Promise and given the changes we want to make in our high school delivery model, that we'll stem the
decline of students," city schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt said.

Questioner said...

Re: Bulldog Forever's comment about this path being set back in 2009- see PURE Reform's commentary from May/June 2009 about the facilities study at

"As a result, the survey can be expected to lead to Choice B (five comprehensive schools: Allderdice, Brashear, Carrick, a school for the North Side and likely as a 6-12 Westinghouse , and five thematic schools: U Prep, sci tech, IB at Peabody, CAPA and an (expensive) career tech academy at Connelly). This outcome is in line with what the administration has been proposing all along."

- Except for the decision to scatter CTE among schools rather than opening an academy, the above scenario is exactly what has happened. State budget reductions had nothing to do with it.

Questioner said...

Speaking of CTE- does CTE now need to be overhauled before the last overhaul was ever put into place, since that overhaul involved locating programs at Oliver and Langley? Again, the folly of piecemeal planning is apparent- why conduct extensive studies and meetings about where to place what CTE before you know which schools will be open for placement? Prediction: despite the Board repeatedly calling CTE reform a priority, it will pretty much stay the way it has been.

Randall Taylor said...

I spoke with Sara Rose of the ACLU yesterday. I raised concerns that again every school closed is predomibnately african-american. She said although that may be difficult to win in court the assignments may be challenged and the percentages of students by race that are in K-5s, K-8, middle schools and 6-12s. Also what is the racial breakdown of students in under 300 schools to those in larger schools.
I also think all of Murray to Arlington and none to Concord(4 new classrooms for whom?)may be troublesome. Schiller/Spring Garden? Re-opening Prospect? More students to Greenway? Can the city sustain buildings with populations under 300 students?