Wednesday, June 11, 2008

school recap from Jen

Enough stuff packed in here that I'll do the table of contents again:
City Council Hearing (June 17) scheduled today
News articles and blog links/video
Public Hearing (June 16)

Talking points (feel free to add)
Whoops, incorrectly attributed something to Jill Weiss in the last email -- the thing about city council came from a different source! Sorry about that; it’ll teach me to try and save time by using an old letter as a form.
City Council has scheduled a public hearing about the Schenley High School closing
Tuesday, June 17 at 6 p.m. The hearing will be held in council chambers downtown
at the
City-County Building. The hearing will also be televised. People who wish to testify
will be allowed a
three minute presentation; appointments can be scheduled by calling
the council clerk's office
(412-255-2142) no later than 5 pm on Tuesday, June 17th.

We are going to try to organize our presentation among the first ten to twelve speakers, after an initial presentation. We need to plan a meeting in the next couple of days to get this started. Testimony will center on the value of the building itself to the city, the value of the school (and of a transparent and open school administratin) to city life, etc.
If you are willing to meet, organize, and write AND/OR to be one of the speakers of the prepared presentation, please email. Perfect opportunity for people who work downtown to have a chance to speak up for Schenley. Students may also speak (as part of the main presentation or on their own) but again, the emphasis should be on issues relevant to the city/city life as a whole.
If you can’t make this, please send a letter to your city council member:
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
City Controller Michael Lamb
District 1, Darlene Harris
District 2, Dan Deasy
District 3, Bruce Kraus
District 4, Jim Motznik
District 5, Doug Shields
District 6, Tonya Payne
District 7, Patrick Dowd
District 8, Bill Peduto
District 9, Rev. Ricky Burgess
Final days at Schenley High School video from the Post-Gazette website
Blogging Schenley:
Think again about high school reform -- not everyone’s thrilled about the 6-12 CAPA concept
TV show about Schenley HS and the ‘sky is falling falsehoods’ -- listen to the broadcast from Friday, hear what’s in those reports.

Board of Education Public Hearing on Monday, June 16th
Call 412-622-3600 to register. As of noonish today, there were 25 signed up to speak. Many talking points/unanswered questions directly below.

Short version of the message -- stop, look, and listen before you do anything else as a board! The school board needs to have a clear idea of the vision and plan for the future before voting in any more spending or changes!

There are big changes coming to every high school in this district (being closed, having an influx of students, the "streamlining" of electives, new feeder patterns and a new lottery system, to name just a few), but no one has a clear idea of the big picture. In the meantime, money is being spent in bits and pieces as parts of this plan go forward. At some point, enough will have been spent that it will seem as though there's no turning back.
Why are we beginning reform by moving and changing currently attractive and successful programs? Innovation and change are great, but they should be aimed where there is failure and bad programming first.
What is going to happen to the currently underenrolled and underperforming high schools? How are those students helped by these plans?
Will it really save taxpayer's money to split students, faculty & staff into four different physical locations - all of which will require significant renovation costs?

If Reizenstein is not being renovated and Frick is supposed to be renovated next year with 4 grades there -- why is it again that the 9th graders aren't going to Reizenstein? Who is going to teach the 9th graders at Frick? No one wants to lose building seniority by moving for a year!
If Schenley is closed will we pay anyway to abate the asbestos if it is sold? (think South Hills High School: The board of education recently completed a $3.5M site remediation, which included removing asbestos, replacing the roof and removing an addition.” April 2007 --
What are going to be the effects of dispersing a highly effective faculty & staff from a high school that most students want to go to?
How will all of these new schools be staffed without pulling good teachers from current programs?
Are smaller high schools equipped to provide full complement of athletics, arts, and after-school programs and extracurriculars? If the goal is college ready, all of those things are important. Roosevelt has implied that "comprehensive high schools" are obsolete. The suburbs don’t seem to have gotten this memo.
Parents and students will have to make "choices" about their educational track in fifth grade for these 6-12 schools. Do these themed schools also make later choices more difficult – what about kids that are a bad fit for the school, how limited will their choices be then?
Jen Lakin

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