Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wow, it's been a week! -- so reports Jen Larkin

At Monday nights meeting, there were 87 speakers signed up -- more than half were Schenley. There was also a contingent of CAPA parents and students, as well as several teachers. In general, the CAPA point was that they had raised many concerns about the merger that remained unaddressed, most urgently the issue of crowding, but including many others.

Listening to their complaints that the administration doesn't listen, refuses input, and ignores issues felt very familiar! I urge you to go back and look at the plans put out this fall (on the district website). Other than moving three grades of Schenley together to die a slower death (a change which was likely undertaken to make the Milliones move more successful, they certainly didn't want kids who had known Schenley ruining their new program!), the plans haven't changed at all. All those months of A+ meetings, hearings, and other meetings were just to allow us to feel heard, rather than be heard.

Anyway -- the speakers Monday were again great, there was someone talking about Oakland land use and the need to keep Schenley a school. Barbara Ernsberger, chairperson of the City of Pittsburgh Democratic Committee reported the results of a meeting showing overwhelming support among ward chairs for saving Schenley the building as a school. Vivian Loftness reiterated the value of the building that was spelled out so beautifully in Sunday's paper. Parents asked for a comprehensive plan and for a comparison of the costs of moving schools here and there, over and over again.

On Tuesday at City Council, it began with a mystery. The printed list of speakers listed three "Invited Guests" including Derrick Lopez (Chief of HS reform), Paul Gill (Director of Operations), and Linda Lane (Deputy Superintendent, only member of the administration I saw at the Schenley musical, turns out she went to every HS's musical, I like her!). Doug Shields said that this happened without going through his office, as it should have and without his knowledge. A quick decision was made that they'd only have 3 minutes, like everyone else. However, none of them were there. Here's the PG's write-up:

The discussion after our testimony was interesting to watch, if only because we never get to hear from the School Board at hearings. As you may have heard though, they already wrote and voted on a resolution, without Peduto there to vote (or call in) and with a seemingly confused Rev. Burgess voting against a delay because he doesn't know what's happening with Peabody and Westinghouse, it didn't get the 5 votes it needed, only got 4.

Today's paper has this story:

Patrick Dowd went on about a bond issue on Tuesday night too. We've never gotten an answer as to who it was in the administration that was tasked with looking at alternatives (and if there really was someone, any indication of the extent of their efforts.) -- instead some have jumped directly to the ballot. Liked Randall Taylor's suggestion that all the other reform spending should be bundled up and put to a vote too, if that were to happen. Part of the point of Peduto's plan and the lease buy back idea of 2005 was that it avoided debt altogether.

More later -- just wanted to get something out. I'm off to write a letter to the editor and spend some time with a 5 year old who's sick of listening to me type!

Please keep getting the word out to non-Schenley affiliated parents that there are so many parts of this plan that affect all city residents, all students and that they need to be active now. After plans are announced, as we well know, it's very hard to get any movement at all.

Jen Lakin

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