Wednesday, March 28, 2012
School news and request letter from parents of Phillips and South Side
Also, for Phillips parents and incoming parents for next year, there's a letter circulating for parents to sign (I believe that there are close to 100 signatures already) to Deputy Superintendent Rudiak asking that with the budget cuts that the district make three commitments to Phillips. One is to fund a Spanish teacher position out of district funds rather than the individual school budget just as the Post-Gazette reported this week that the District already agreed to do at Colfax, which is a Spanish magnet just like Phillips. A second is that the district will agree to stick to its practice of funding an additional paraprofessional position for grades where enrollment hits the maximum numbers out of additional district funds rather than out of the existing Phillips budget. The third is that with the elimination of two teaching positions and the hiring of a FTE to cover some classrooms, that Phillips be able to hire one of the displaced teachers who already knows the school and students.
Below is a copy of the letter in case you and/or your spouse/significant other wish to sign on and send, or there are parents collecting signature before and after school. I'll have a copy of the letter with me at POPS. Parents of students entering school next year are welcome to sign, too. It's authored by Michele Margittai and Carey Harris (related by marriage to POPS Peter Margittai and John Werling).
Pittsburgh Phillips K-5 PSCC / PTO / Guardians
c/o 1901 Sarah Street
Pittsburgh PA 15203
March 30, 2012
Dr. Barbara Rudiak
Pittsburgh Public Schools
341 South Bellefield Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Dear Dr. Rudiak –
We are writing, on behalf of 315 Pittsburgh Phillips K-5 students, regarding the changes to occur in the 2012/13 school year at Pittsburgh Phillips K-5.
As you know, the parents/guardians of Phillips students have actively collaborated for many years with the school’s administration to create and sustain an excellent school environment. This family engagement has resulted in many successes at the school including:
• an engaged PSCC that meets with school administration about various school issues.
• an active PTO that provides financial and other support for student enrichment activities.
• excellent attendance by families at school’s events in support of the students’ work (e.g., Fiesta de la Paz, Are You Smarter than a 3rd/4th Grader?)
Not only have these efforts helped Phillips K-5 to be recognized locally as an excellent public school, but its family engagement efforts have also been recognized nationally, by PTO Today.
As a result of the recent budget cuts, Phillips is entering a critical time of challenges and transitions. Families again are asking, “What can we do?” Through the PSCC, families have already met several times with our school’s principal. Based on these discussions, we are writing to request clarity from the district, regarding several issues of concern:
· Principal Transition: We are looking forward to working with the new principal who will be appointed to lead Phillips – particular in addressing changes that will occur regarding the budget cuts. When will the new principal be available to start working with us and what will his/her availability be for meetings in May through August?
· Class Size: We are concerned about the kindergarten class sizes, and want to provide those classrooms with the maximum amount of support. Our current understanding is that a paraprofessional will be provided to support a kindergarten classroom if that class size reaches or exceeds the maximum allowed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. These additional staff members would be provided at the district’s expense, and not out of Phillips’ site-based budget. We would like to confirm with the district that this understanding is correct.
· FTE /ITL2: Phillips will lose at least two classroom teachers for the 2012/13 school year. We understand that district and building seniority will determine which teachers must leave. We request that the FTE, who will be assigned to Phillips to supplement the schedule of the ITL2, be offered to one of the teachers whose current position will be eliminated or who will be bumped due to district transitions. . Our current teachers are part of the culture and understand the expectations of Phillips. As such, they are in the best position to work effectively with our students, staff, and families. An assigned FTE who is new to Phillips, would only exacerbate an already challenging year.
· Spanish Teacher: We noted in the Monday, March 26th Pittsburgh Post Gazette article that the District is providing a Spanish teacher to Colfax to continue that school’s Spanish program. Will the district provide the same resource to Phillips, if needed, to ensure that all of our students receive Spanish instruction at least periods per week?
Dr. Rudiak, thank you, in advance, for your time spent providing us with answers to these important questions. Our PSCC meets again on April 17th. It would be extremely helpful to receive a response prior to that meeting.
We look forward to working with you and your colleagues.
Pittsburgh Phillips PSCC
Pittsburgh Phillips K-5 PTO
Cc: Dr. Jeannine French
Pittsburgh Phillips Students’ Parents / Guardians: