Monday, May 19, 2008

Re-sent letter to PPS about Schools and Schenley



c/o Hill House Association, 1835 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219


Superintendent Mark Roosevelt and Board President, Bill Isler

Board Members: Heather Arnet, Mark Brentley, Theresa Colaizzi, Jean Fink,

Sherry Hazuda, Bill Isler, Floyd McCrea, Thomas Sumpter, Randall Taylor

Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education

341 South Bellefield Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Dear Superintendent Roosevelt, and Board President Isler, Members: Heather Arnet, Mark Brentley, Theresa Colaizzi ,Jean Fink, Sherry Hazuda, Bill Isler, Floyd McCrea, Thomas Sumpter, Randall Taylor:

For many years, B-PEP, the Black Political Empowerment Project has been very concerned about and involved in the issues of reforming Pittsburgh Public Schools so that all of our children, in particular African American children receive a high quality education. Our involvement in school reform became even more heightened as a result of the announcement on October 31, 2007 that called for the closing of Schenley due to students and staff being exposed to asbestos where conditions had deteriorated and the cost to remediate was prohibitive. Also on October 31, 2007 we learned of other dramatic high school reforms that didn’t come with as much details or a good public process that should have occurred for such an enormous undertaking to be successful.

Our informed position of today, February 26, 2008 has been influenced by attending meetings, public hearings, information provided from the Superintendent, his staff and administration, Board members, PA Department of Education, principals, teachers, students, parents, news media, concerned community members, in addition to independent building engineers, legal and finance experts. Weighing all of this, we respectfully ask that in order to "completely assure the safety of the students and faculty, that the Schenley High School building be remediated this summer by removing the ceiling plaster. This would give the district time to develop the further needed renovations and updates, many which would be on an "as needed" basis. It would allow the students to remain in the building, instead of letting it sit vacant, unnecessarily. It would also give the district the time to completely and effectively develop the programming and the implementation aspects of the high school reform initiatives.

Understanding the fierce urgency of now to make ensure that ALL of our children are receiving a high quality education is something that we all agree on. Can we please focus on figuring out a way to teach and reach them where they are at NOW and have some good results to show for it and NOT use the excuse that we were not able to this because we spent so much time discussing not so well laid out plans?

Thank you.

Respectfully submitted,

Tim Stevens, Chairman and Celeste Taylor, Vice-Chairperson

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