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On Halloween, Mark Roosevelt, Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools, announced that he's attempting again to close Schenley High School and move its students out of Oakland into existing Middle School buildings in East Liberty and the Hill District
 
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11-13-07 School Board Testimony- Weiss

 
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weissjm



Joined: 09 Nov 2007
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:22 am    Post subject: 11-13-07 School Board Testimony- Weiss Reply with quote

A Case for Schenley High School- As Presented to the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Public Schools November 13, 2007

Two years ago, I sat in this chair, speaking about a plan to close Schenley High School that was based on the premise that the “sky is falling.” Once again, I sit here, asking for the time to be fully made aware of all of the studies and the ramifications of a similar scenario. Once again, the course of action that is slated to be taken has been a swift and not necessarily a complete nor a transparent process. It is one that is just a mere 7 weeks in the making.
Schenley High School, both the building and the community, deserve better. For one of the highest achieving high schools in the district- for a good percentage of the population- there needs to be more consideration. The achievement level of those that is not as high does not exceed that of other Pittsburgh Public Schools. This school, though not perfect, is working and that is why we are asking for time.
You do not walk away from buildings like Schenley. It has too much history and integrity. The cost of asbestos remediation is only $8 million. The rest of the costs are those that are “legacy costs”- costs that have been spent on other buildings as they have had rounds of improvements that were not made available to Schenley through the years- because of the excuse of the presence of asbestos. Those costs should be considered as costs that are due to this grand building, and those funds should not be allocated to less substantial and less inspiring buildings.
Air quality tests and studies need to be taken at all district schools and compared to those taken at Schenley. We would like to know the costs of physically abandoning the building, since the remediation would still need to occur. We would like to know the costs of losing students due to a move to a noncentral location, where transportation would be prohibitive. We would like to know the costs of losing students because of a constantly tenuous status and the costs to those schools who will have to accommodate this loss. We would like to know the costs of losing the access to the cultural and educational institutions of Oakland, a key element of this argument.
Real estate agents have a saying, “Location, location, location.” That saying also applies to education. You do not undo the excellent decision that was made 91 years ago to centrally locate the building, which allowed it to be accessible to all and to all of the other attractions of Oakland.
I am not opposed to change, and yes, reform is a good thing, when it is not based on a plan that is a reaction to circumstances. It must come from a position of strength and support. But I would like to know the true costs of not giving Schenley High School its due, and I am asking for the time to have that question sufficiently and transparently answered.
Thank you,
Jill Weiss
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