Monday, February 25, 2008

Jen L (fellow parent, taxpayer, customer) is asking us to 'think positive' in terms of the looming vote to close Schenley High

Jen wrote in an email:
Hi all --

Well, a lot of issues were thrown into the mix at the agenda review meeting last Wednesday -- what are the real costs, what is the sense in creating a segregated school, what are the costs of renovating three buildings compared to renovating one, what is the real time frame needed to renovate Schenley, is it necessary to move the students out, what is the status of the program planning, for instance.

Not surprisingly, there still aren't a lot of answers to these important questions. There doesn't seem to be an overall plan for the district beyond these changes, the sci-tech high school concept is still up in the air, particularly as to location, money is being spent, and input into program changes isn't being taken until after tomorrow's vote. (Visit for a list of meetings, the first, about University Prep takes place on Thursday.)

The wording remains unchanged, so a yes vote tomorrow will split Schenley students into 10-12th grades located at Reizenstein, add 9th grade at Frick for one year, and reopen Milliones for a 9th grade class of University Prep (only one grade to be located there next year). Also, a request to submit to the state the construction plans to move ahead with a renovation of Reizenstein will be voted on.

If you can, send a letter of Schenley support to the board asking them to act in a responsible and well thought out manner, considering all the ramifications of their actions. We request that board members vote no or table the items regarding moving Schenley students separately and spending on multiple buildings. If it is felt that students must be moved next year, the wording should be changed to "temporary move" and should plan to move all students together.

Some points to consider:

-- Any money spent on currently closed facilities to establish "new schools" is money that could and should be spent on Schenley High School, the most architecturally impressive and structurally sound building of the district buildings.

-- Schenley's location in Oakland is ideal for both an international program and a university affiliated program

-- Using Reizenstein as a high school creates a corridor of high schools in the East End, likely necessitating other closures or moving of students. An overall plan for the East End (or for the district as a whole) should be formulated before decisions are made and funds are spent to open another school there.

The estimates for improvements at Reizenstein are in the $15-$21 million range.
Improvements on the Milliones facility range similarly from $12 million upwards.
The costs for improvements at Frick, for one year of use by 9th graders, are requested at $5 million.

These costs added together would be close to the costs for renovating the Schenley building, which would provide a facility that could house both a University Prep and IB/IS 9-12 program in one centrally located building.

-- The PPS administration has not explored all viable solutions nor have they taken a holistic view of the importance that Schenley has for the city and the communities that it serves.

-- A Financial Task Force of Schenley backers is exploring a wide variety of funding options, that the district has not yet considered, in order to piece together the puzzle of the cost of upgrading the building.

And any thing else you find important!

You can send letters to the entire board at

Or you can contact your school board member or Mark Roosevelt directly at:

Mark Roosevelt-
Heather Arnet-
Mark Brentley-
Theresa Colaizzi -
Jean Fink-
Sherry Hazuda-
Bill Isler-
Floyd McCrea-
Thomas Sumpter-
Randall Taylor-

If you do know a board member personally and are comfortable calling them with your concerns and requests, that can't hurt either.

And then, think positive Schenley thoughts!

Jen Lakin

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