Sunday, December 09, 2012

PPS Q and A

... a planning process that will challenge (us all) to think differently ... in light of continued enrollment decline, increased costs, flat revenue projections and strong support for more school choice...


The thing that sinks my heart is the "continued enrollment decline." They seem to think "continued enrollment decline = gravity." 

Or, "continued enrollment decline = urban school district."

I don't want a PLAN that counts on "continued enrollment decline." 

Screw that philosophy.

Sure there is that old saying, "Those that fail to plan plan to fail." But, what PPS seems to want to do is "plan for continued enrollment decline." That might as well be "Plan to fail and fail with grace."

We need to build a robust school district that families enjoy and citizens respect and students never depart unless they have a diploma.

... the District has created other means to maintain the number of students that receive pre-kindergarten services, including instituting a tuition-based program for those family that do not qualify for the State and federal funds. With this added option, we are now able to serve a large number of three and four year olds in Pittsburgh.... 

PPS should have a plan for attending something like Summer Dreamers for those who do not get admission to the PPS Summer Dreamers program. In the summer of 2012, more than 1,600 students wanted to attend and applied to PPS Summer Dreamers and instead got a 'rejection letter.' The Summer Dreamers program is shrinking, due to funds. The number of Summer Dreamers sites for middle school students went from more than 10 to 3 in 2012 and 1 in 2014. That's fine. However, what kills is that a tuition based program could be offered to citizens. Then we'd be able to offer Swim & Waterpolo Camp, say in the mornings, for kids who are not on free and reduced lunch and to kids who are proficient in their standardized test scores.

As for transportation and the lack of PAT bus passes for high school students, the reply includes this from PPS:

Why did you take bus passes away for high school students? Sometimes we have to stay after school and can't get home.

In 2012, the District reviewed several options to cut transportation costs and  respond to threats of looming Port Authority of Allegheny County reductions to neighborhood bus service.  As a result, the District worked collaboratively with 19 transportation companies and approved a transportation contract that saves more than $1.8 Million over the next two school years.  In addition, the threats of  tentative cuts from the Port Authority required the District to be proactive and decrease the number of purchased bus passes by 1,300, therefore placing more high school students on yellow busses.  This change does not negatively impact afterschool activities.

No way. There have been some good changes. But, there is no way that the lack of bus passes for high school kids have been without a hit to afterschool activities.

Why close high performing schools like Northview? Most students there walked and achieved AYP?
In order to create a more sustainable District, in 2011/12, we evaluated all of our schools based on four equally weighted criteria: Student Achievement, Student Enrollment, Facility Condition and Operations Costs.  Based on these factors, schools such as Northview were closed.  You can read more about the District’s realignment plan here.

Great question. Not so great reply. #Fail

Another inspired question and another #Fail on the answer.

Is there a way to re-imagine the relationship between charter schools and the regular public schools so that they are not draining each other of resources in an environment of scarcity? How can we move toward adopting strategies that are successful in charter schools within the Pittsburgh Public Schools?

In our ever changing economy, Pittsburgh Public Schools continually strives to seek cost-efficient solutions to our families that will accelerate student achievement. Although a formal plan has not been devised as to how we could begin to work with charter schools, we are always open to dialogue about ways to provide the best educational experience possible to our students and their families.

This is so interesting I'll repost it just for the heck of it. The year being talked about is the first year of graduation from Obama. This class had it hard.

Additionally, 24 students took a total of 92 IB exams in May 2012. 61 exams received a passing score of 4, 5, 6, or 7, which represents 70% of the total. 5 students were awarded the IB Diploma, which is an internationally recognized award.

The number of those taking the IB exam with the graduation year of 2013 are much higher. Through the roof applies.

I've got to spend some time looking at this.

No comments: