Saturday, April 08, 2006

Revised plan would delay West End school closing

Revised plan would delay West End school closing Revised plan would delay West End school closing
This is great news and another example where people were able to "Think Again." I love it.... for many reasons.

The Gifted Center needs to move out of its present location in The Hill District. The plan was to put it over on the North Side at Ridge -- a dumb decision. That building has ONE WINDOW. And, it went up for sale and there were a number of interested parties that was thinking of buying the building. Well, the long and short of it was that The Gifted Center would NEVER fit into where the "right size plan" called for it to move. That isn't going to happen. Such a relief.

The Gifted Center is not slated to move into the West End's Greenway. GREAT. That is a funky school -- but these kids are gifted and they'll be able to fit and have a good place to learn.

Furthermore, the whole shift of the Classical Academy into Langley made no sense to me. The "right sized plan" was ONLY about elementary schools and middle schools. There was little to no thought put into the landscape of our assets and options with those in the high school grades. That is still to come. So, putting more students into a high school building -- without thinking about the overall impact of the high school educational mission and directions was foolish.

Really, in the end of the thinking process -- it might make great sense to move LANGLEY High School into Greenway. Then the gifted center might need to move again. Okay.

Hats off to Mr. Roosevelt for a much, much better decision. Way to go. Thinking again is necessary.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Revised plan would delay West End school closing
Saturday, April 08, 2006

By Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt has proposed changes in his district reorganization plan that would keep Pittsburgh Classical Academy in the Greenway building at least for a year and move the gifted program there for at least a similar period.

In a memo he sent to district officials Thursday night, Mr. Roosevelt said he wants to keep Greenway on a list of school buildings he has proposed closing. But he said it would be financially prudent to leave the West End building open for the time being to avoid costly renovations to other buildings that, in the long run, might prove to be a waste of money.

School board member Randall Taylor said the proposed changes show that Mr. Roosevelt is listening to the concerns of parents in some communities but not in others. Mr. Taylor represents East End residents who have unsuccessfully lobbied Mr. Roosevelt to reverse portions of the reorganization plan affecting their neighborhoods.

Lisa Fischetti, Mr. Roosevelt's chief of staff, disputed Mr. Taylor's remarks. "The superintendent has always said he's open to input, and he's willing to consider all substantive suggestions on their merits," she said, maintaining that Mr. Roosevelt's change of heart on the Greenway building was not motivated by vocal Pittsburgh Classical supporters.

Mr. Roosevelt in November proposed closing Greenway Middle School, leaving Pittsburgh Classical in the Greenway building and putting a new accelerated learning academy serving kindergarten through eighth grade there.

In February, Mr. Roosevelt proposed closing the Greenway building altogether. He scrapped plans for the accelerated learning academy there and proposed moving Pittsburgh Classical, a magnet middle school, to Langley High School.

Also in February, Mr. Roosevelt proposed moving the gifted program from the McKelvy building in the Hill District to the Ridge Avenue building on the North Side. He proposed moving an expanded Miller African-Centered Academy into the McKelvy building.

In all, to cut costs and boost student achievement, Mr. Roosevelt has proposed closing 18 buildings and 22 elementary and middle schools. He said he wants to shift students to better-performing schools and eight new accelerated learning academies.

Parents of Pittsburgh Classical students rallied to keep that school at the Greenway building, saying they liked the building's out-of-the-way location and didn't want their children mixing with the older Langley students. Yet district officials said financial considerations motivated the proposal to keep the Greenway building open for the time being.

Ms. Fischetti said the district would have to spend $1.6 million to prepare the Langley building for Pittsburgh Classical students. She said much of that money would be spent undoing previous renovations for career and technical programs that were planned for Langley but never implemented.

Ms. Fischetti said it would make little sense to pour money into Langley until a task force studies the future of the district's 10 high schools. Mr. Roosevelt's current reorganization plan only addresses middle and high schools.

The district has estimated it would cost $100,000 to prepare the Ridge Avenue building, now closed, for the gifted program. Ms. Fischetti said it would make more sense to save that money and move the gifted program to Greenway until the district develops a plan for gifted education.

The board voted Feb. 28 to adopt Mr. Roosevelt's reorganization plan and must hold a second vote in May or June.

While Greenway will remain on list of buildings Mr. Roosevelt has proposed closing, Ms. Fischetti said, the district could keep the building open for as long as it wants. She said Pittsburgh Classical and the gifted program may or may not be there longer than a year.

The reprieve didn't satisfy Debbie Joyce, parent of a special-needs student at Pittsburgh Classical. She said the Greenway building, built in 1974, is well suited to be Pittsburgh Classical's permanent home and a better choice than the older, more crowded Langley building.

(Joe Smydo can be reached at or 412-263-1548. )