School board votes to close Schenley, move students to Reizenstein
The Pittsburgh Board of Education has moved forward several of Superintendent Mark Roosevelt's recommendations outlined in Excel.9-12, The Plan for High School Excellence. Excel.9-12 provides a five-year, sequenced roadmap which will enhance academic programs and redesign the District's educational delivery at the secondary level.
The board approved the opening of two new 6-12 learning communities for the 2009-10 school year. The new Science and Technology Academy will be located at the Frick facility. The new International Baccalaureate school will be housed at the Reizenstein facility for at least three years until a permanent home is identified and prepared by 2012-13.
This evening the Board also voted to close the Schenley facility. Due to the acceleration of deteriorating conditions at the Schenley facility this past fall, the District had to quickly modify its high school reform roadmap to address safety concerns for students and staff at Pittsburgh Schenley High School. In October 2007, the superintendent recommended closing the facility and relocating the students and staff for the upcoming 2008-09 school year. In February 2008, the board voted to relocate grades 10-12 and open Pittsburgh Schenley High School at the Reizenstein facility beginning with the 2008-09 school year.
"We have limited dollars and we must use them to support our academic initiatives. We also have a firm commitment not to raise taxes," said Superintendent Roosevelt. "Unfortunately, rehabilitating Schenley would have put us in a position of pulling back on our academic reform efforts and raising taxes."
The board also approved the opening of a new 6-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) focused magnet school. The Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy will open, in the Frick facility, with 250 students in grades six through nine for the start of the 2009-10 school year, adding a grade each year thereafter until the school reaches full capacity at 550 in 2012-13.
The Frick facility was selected as the most cost-effective option to house the Science and Technology Academy, which requires 11 large and flexible, exploratory "lab" classrooms to support the unique curriculum. The district's construction estimate is $14 million for the conversion.
Additionally, the board approved the appointment of Daniel E. Lentz as principal of the Science and Technology Academy, effective July 15. In his current position as assistant principal and district athletics coordinator at Freedom Area High School (Freedom, PA), Mr. Lentz authored Classrooms for the Future and Project 720 grants for the school. Additionally, he served as the alternative education coordinator, created a modified block schedule and developed an 8th grade to 9th grade transition program.
Mr. Lentz began his career as a secondary biology/anatomy teacher at Plattsburg High School (Plattsburg, Missouri), St. Pius X High School (Kansas City, Missouri) and Winnetonka High School (Kansas City, Missouri). From 2003-2004, he served as assistant principal at South Fayette Township High School where he supervised the school's Independent Study Program, served on the Parkway Vo-Tech Principal's Association and was in charge of the athletic program.
The board authorized the opening of a new 6-12 International Baccalaureate (IB) school, focused on language and culture, at the Reizenstein facility for the start of the 2009-10 school year. Pittsburgh Frick IB/IS students will become part of the new school, which will open with grades 6-10 and a capacity for 750 students. As grades 11 and 12 are added over time, the total student population will grow to 1,050.
To provide certainty and stability for students, the superintendent is proposing that the Reizenstein facility house the new IB school for three years, during which time a permanent home can be identified and prepared. The board is planning to work with the superintendent to create a committee to include administration, teachers, students, parents and community leaders to determine the best permanent home for the IS/IB programs.
Due to the more than $75 million necessary to remediate and renovate the facility, the board approved the district's recommendation to close the Schenley facility for use as a school. The board will work with the superintendent to create a committee to include the district, community and other governmental representatives to work together to pursue several long-term options for use, investment and/or renovation of the historic landmark.
Given the rapidly deteriorating conditions of the Schenley facility, the board took action in February 2008 to relocate the students and programs for the start of the 2008-09 school year.
• Pittsburgh Schenley school will be relocated to the Reizenstein facility for students in grades10-12. The current Pittsburgh Schenley students will remain together at the Reizenstein facility until the final class graduates with their Pittsburgh Schenley diploma in 2010-11. Pittsburgh Schenley students currently enrolled in the school's Robotics Technology magnet will relocate with their classmates to the Reizenstein Facility and take Robotics Technology magnet courses at Pittsburgh Peabody.
• Incoming 9th grade IB/IS students will attend Pittsburgh Frick, which will be expanded to a 6-9 school. To date, enrollment for the 9th grade class is nearly full – 145 students have enrolled and capacity is at 150.
• Incoming 9th graders who enroll in the Robotics Technology Magnet will attend Pittsburgh Peabody, which is the new home for this magnet program.
• Incoming 9th grade non-magnet students, who would have been previously assigned to Pittsburgh Schenley will be assigned to the new University Prep 6-12 school, which will open in the fall at the Milliones facility. The school will open with a 9th grade and add more grade levels over time. With a capacity of 150 students for 2008-09, the school already has reached its enrollment limit and currently has a waiting list. Of the 150 students who have enrolled, 67 of these students are from other parts of the city and have applied through the open enrollment process.
In addition to the naming of a new principal for the Science and Technology Academy, he Board approved the appointment of 11 principals at the June Legislative Meeting. Five of the newly assigned principals recently completed the District's Pittsburgh Emerging Leadership (PELA) program. PELA is a component of the District's Pittsburgh Urban Leadership System for Excellence (PULSE) accountability system designed to recruit, train, support, evaluate and compensate principals. PELA residents complete a year-long residency alongside current principals.
Additionally, each PELA resident is assigned a Civic Mentor who guides residents on how to engage the community in what's happening in their school buildings. PELA residents that have been assigned to principal positions are listed below along with information on where each completed their PELA residency. All PELA residents will begin their new positions July 1, 2008.
PELA Resident Residency Site Principal Assignment for 08-09
Melissa Friez Pgh. Peabody Pgh. Peabody
Paula Heinzman Pgh. Schaeffer Pgh. Schiller
Jennifer Mikula Pgh. Allderdice Pgh. Rooney
Kathy Moran Pgh. Fort Pitt Pgh. West Liberty
Ruthie Rea Pgh. Roosevelt Pgh. Arsenal K-5
Additionally the Board approved the reassignments, effective July 1, of the following principals to new schools for the 2008-09 school year:
Administrator Current Assignment Principal Assignment 08-09
Joan Murphy acting principal, Pgh. Rooney principal, Pgh. King
Nina Sacco asst. principal, Pgh. Schenley principal, Pgh. Perry
John Vater principal, Pgh. Peabody principal, Pgh. Brashear