Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fwd: How we got where we are, part 19, June 25, 2008.

Blast from the past about PPS as the school year nears.

Those in 9th grade begins on Wednesday. Westinghouse started last week.

This series generally is published at another blog, http://purereform.blogspot.com.

How we got where we are, part 19, June 25, 2008 continued:

June 25, 2008: In the face of continued enrollment decline, the Board approved:

- Opening "a new 6-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) focused magnet school at the Frick facility. The STEM school will be phased in beginning with grades 6-9 for the 2009-10 school year." Oh but wait! What happen to the Westinghouse Science and Math program (SAM) that was so successful? After investing millions of dollars in the renovations of Westinghouse, including the state of the art science labs, PPS decided to abandon them. I hear now some of those expensive class room rooms  that were set up as science labs are being used to teach English and other non science courses. What a waste.

- Opening "a new 6-12 International Baccalaureate (IB) school focused on language and culture. The IB School will be phased in, beginning with grades 6-10 for the 2009-10 school year and be located at the Reizenstein facility at least through the 2011-12 school year. The IB offers a continuum of high-quality education that encourages international-mindedness and a positive attitude to learning." This is a great program for the few. But the reality is less than 20% of the students  who are actually in the program get the IB Diploma. There are major barriers along the way for completion to include the cost of sitting for the exams. 

This IB item was amended to include language that "The Board will work with the Superintendent to create a committee to include Administration, Teachers, Students, Parents, and Community Leaders to determine the best permanent home for the IS/IB Programs." Or better put, lets create a IB site selection committee and take over the Peabody building. But first we must put the Peabody neighborhood feeder pattern kids out of their own building because they are not good enough to be in the same building with the IB students. 

PPS tried blending  two schools. This short lived experiment  was with the remainder of the Schenley students from the hill, with the new IB students who had come over from Frick. There were a few Schenley student loyalist who didn't leave Schenley once PPS broke up their school. But PPS didn't feel the blending worked and it was doomed for the start. PPS separated the Schenley students from the IB student by floors, staff, principals and Pods. So what can we do with the students from, Larmer, East liberty, Garfield, Bloomfield, lawrenceville, Stanton Heights, Morningside and friendship. We have to make way for the new East liberty development and Highland Park?  Someone had a brilliant ideal. Bingo!  It was decided to send the remainder of the Peabody students to Homewood, i.e. Westinghouse, or the Hill, i.e. Uprep, which began the process of re-segregating the schools. But no one will notice or care, will they? Did they notice how PPS did Schenley?

- Closing "the Schenley facility for use as a school effective June 30, 2008. Pursuant to 24 P. S. 7-780 of the Public School Code of 1949, as amended, the Board conducted a public hearing on November 27, 2007 in order to take public comment on the proposed closing of the Schenley facility."

This item was also amended to include language that "The Board will work with the Superintendent to create a committee to include District, community, and other governmental representatives to work together to pursue several long-term options for use, investment and/or renovation of this historic landmark."

- Relocating "Pittsburgh Schenley grades 10, 11 and 12 and to establish Pittsburgh Schenley as a 10-12 school at the Reizenstein facility beginning with the 2008-09 school year. The Pittsburgh Schenley school will be reduced by one grade per year and remain at the Reizenstein facility until its last class graduates in 2010-11....To allow the students of Pittsburgh Schenley to remain together at the Reizenstein facility until the final class graduates in 2010-11." This way we can eliminate the Schenley alumni and legacy because they may rise again as they gave us a little scare. For a minute there it looked like they were going to put up a real fight to save their school. It was only one of the most diverse schools in the district, and lords knows we can have that.

Architects are approved for the temporary relocation to Reizenstein and the Frick renovation for Sci-Tech. And big time money is about to be spent so we can't go back now. Plus why not get the Reizenstein building really ready for who we want to sell it too, with tax payers dollars since we are moving the IB program to Peabody. We just want to make the IB site selection committee think they have a real say so in where they will move the IB program to. Even though PPS paid the Dejong group, a facilities study company, $500,000.00 to tell PPS what facilities were the best and they ranked them. Oh did I say that the Dejong advised that the IB program stay at Reizenstein? Sorry its a secret.

Board member Randall Taylor remarks, "I think it's a very, very historic meeting that we have this evening, and some of the decisions that this Board may have I think may have long-term implications for this District, and it may have again long-term impact on the type of services and the type of choices that we like to be able to offer our students. The District, as we know our finances are not in the greatest of condition, and I believe that some of the proposals on the table this evening are going to exacerbate our I think very poor financial position."

Mr. Taylor makes a motion to move Schenley into the Peabody building.  He notes, "So I think a proposal of Peabody is financially a better proposal than the administration's proposal, and I think educationally it's a better proposal because it preserved Schenley High School as the excellent facility all their teachers and all their programs in another building." 

Mr. Roosevelt contends that Peabody is too small and perhaps it is here that we see why former Chief Operations Officer Richard Fellers was exiled and forced to retire. 

Mr. Taylor continues, "It's a senior person very much involved over the years with our school closing and the number they gave me was 1,700 or 1,800 students that fit in Peabody High School. Absolutely." Oh Randall you don't know what your talking about do you? Opps let me be quiet  I forgot he went there and knows Peabody can hold the students, because that's what it had when he was there, and the building didn't shrink did it?

Solicitor Weiss' comments that the Board has already approved construction contracts for Milliones and Reizensten; his opinion holds sway over the majority. Therefore the thought is I guess we better spend that money now before the people find out that in 2011 and...... we will be broke and having to lay off over 300 people and close more schools. Naw that cant be true can it?

Taylor's motion is defeated 2-7.

412 298 3432 = cell

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