Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Board Considers Reconfiguration of Pittsburgh Schools

Pittsburgh's Board of Education is being asked to consider a new city school realignment. Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt submitted the plan to the board last night. Board Member Thomas Sumpter says he is “quite pleased” with the plan.
"Excel 9-12" is a 5-year plan that was introduced in 2006 aimed at improving the academic performance of all high school students in the city public schools. The Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12 School opened in the Hill District in 2008; the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) 6-12 began in 2009 as did the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy.
Roosevelt says an advisory committee report in April indicated the projected enrollment decline in the eastern neighborhoods means that the area cannot continue to support three feeder high schools: Pittsburgh Peabody, Pittsburgh Westinghouse and Pittsburgh Milliones.
The latest proposals call for the closing of Peabody High School in East Liberty. Pittsburgh Obama 6-12, which is the international studies magnet school, will be moved into the Peabody building. Sumpter says the district is trying to get the best use out of the assets it has as enrollment drops.
Grades 6,7 and 8 would be added to Westinghouse making it a 6 through 12 school. The school would also be transformed into two, single gender academies. Roosevelt says each academy would be led by its own administrative team, faculty and staff tailored to meet the needs of both schools.
Starting in 2011, Peabody students would either go to Westinghouse or to Milliones 6-12, which is the university prep school. Sumpter says he wishes the city could open more schools to give students more choice and more neighborhood options but that is just no t possible given the reality of the city’s population changes.
The plan also calls for developing a site for a K-8 and 9-12 Teacher Academy as part of the Empowering Effective Teachers plan. The teaching academies would be in existing schools where some of the district’s best teachers will coach new and experienced teachers with the goal of improved teacher and student performance.

The public is invited to submit written comments by clicking the Facilities Reconfigurations button on the homepage. The next public hearing is July 12. Speakers must sign up prior to noon the day of the hearing. Sumpter says he does not expect much to change between now on the final vote. “This is something that people and organizations have been coming together on, the east end, there is a couple of advisory groups out in that area. Just like last night, even thought it was presented to the board there was not a big turnout from the public because I think the pretty much understand where we are going and pretty much accept it,” says Sumpter.

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