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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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10-30-07 PPS may empty Schenley, move Frick students

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 8:01 am    Post subject: 10-30-07 PPS may empty Schenley, move Frick students Reply with quote

City schools may empty Schenley, move Frick students
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
By Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The landmark but deteriorating Pittsburgh Schenley High School building in Oakland may be vacated at the end of the school year and at least some students moved to the former Reizenstein Middle School building.

Those in the International Baccalaureate program would move to the Reizenstein building, while the fate of Schenley students not enrolled in IB courses was unclear. They would be sent to at least one other building, officials said.

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt also is considering moving Pittsburgh Frick 6-8, with its planned IB program, from its Oakland site to the Reizenstein building in Shadyside.

The changes would concentrate IB courses in one place and could promote the program growth that Mr. Roosevelt desires.

About 160 students now take IB courses at Schenley, and the district plans to ask the International Baccalaureate Organization's permission to start a whole-school Middle Years Program at Frick, already an international studies magnet.

Also possible is the move of Pittsburgh Rogers 6-8, a magnet arts school, from its Garfield building to additional space the district would acquire in the Downtown building that already houses Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts.

Officials outlined the ideas on the condition of anonymity and emphasized that no final decisions had been made. They said Mr. Roosevelt broached his plans to school board members in meetings last week.

Mr. Roosevelt declined comment yesterday, except to say that he had spoken to board members about possible school changes and that his ideas remained in flux. The district has scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. tomorrow to announce plans for the second year of its high school improvement efforts, including the creation of "thematic learning communities" for grades six through 12.

Such a proposal likely would draw sharp criticism from Schenley's vocal base of parents and alumni.

Also disappointed would be some East End parents who had wanted the district to move Pittsburgh Lincoln K-8 into Reizenstein. Lincoln's student body now is split between two buildings.

Schenley's fate has been in limbo for two years.

In November 2005, as part of a comprehensive school closing and realignment plan, Mr. Roosevelt proposed closing the Schenley building because it needed as much as $60 million in renovations, including asbestos abatement. At the time, he proposed moving Schenley High School, intact, to the Reizenstein building.

Schenley supporters complained, calling its location in the Oakland university hub a crucial component of the school's international studies program. Mr. Roosevelt pulled the idea, pending additional study.

A stairwell ceiling collapse last summer has re-focused attention on the fate of the school and building. The triangular building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1916.

Pittsburgh Frick has about 500 students, while Schenley has about 1,100 this school year. The fate of the Schenley building is unclear, sources said, while the Frick building could be used as the site for another school or another district purpose.

Besides its international studies and IB magnet programs, Schenley has a technological studies magnet as well as some students assigned by neighborhood. The former Milliones Middle School building in the Hill District has been mentioned as a possible landing place for Schenley students not enrolled in IB.

Reizenstein and Milliones schools were closed at the end of the 2005-06 school year. The Reizenstein building is used for employee training.

The school board this year voted to move Rogers from its Garfield location to the Milliones building. The board also voted to move Pittsburgh Vann K-8 to Milliones from its current Hill District location. The combined moves were to cost about $10 million, and the work was to take place over a couple of years.

Rogers was to be moved to accommodate growing enrollment and the need for better arts amenities. Vann, which began taking middle-grade students in 2006-07, was to be moved to take advantage of Milliones' bigger gymnasium.

Now, sources said, Mr. Roosevelt is weighing the possibility of combining the magnet arts programs at the CAPA building, Downtown, because additional space has become available there. There was no timetable for moving Rogers to the CAPA building.

First published on October 30, 2007 at 12:00 am
Joe Smydo can be reached at [email protected] or 412-263-1548.
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