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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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11-10-07 Officials quash Schenley rumors

 
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 8:24 am    Post subject: 11-10-07 Officials quash Schenley rumors Reply with quote


Officials quash Schenley rumors
Saturday, November 10, 2007
By Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Public Schools officials yesterday tried to beat back a rumor that the school board intended to sneak in a vote on the fate of Pittsburgh Schenley High School during a special meeting Wednesday.

The rumor began spreading by e-mail Thursday night, after a community meeting at which Schenley supporters denounced district officials for plans to close the building and disperse its students to three other schools.

"WARNING ~ Roosevelt has moved the Schenley closing vote to 14 November," one e-mail said, referring to Superintendent Mark Roosevelt.

Not true, said district Solicitor Ira Weiss.

Mr. Weiss said the district will hold a special public hearing on Schenley at 6 p.m. Nov. 27 at district offices in Oakland. He said state law then requires a three-month wait before the school board acts, meaning a vote likely will come Feb. 27.

District officials gave that timetable last week when Mr. Roosevelt proposed closing Schenley, saying the district couldn't afford $64 million to remediate asbestos and other maintenance problems at the Oakland building.

In e-mails, however, Schenley supporters said school board member Mark Brentley Sr. told them about a possible vote on Schenley at Wednesday's special meeting. In an interview, Mr. Brentley said he didn't know specifics of Wednesday's agenda but believed it involved proposed changes to high schools.

Mr. Weiss said the 6 p.m. Wednesday meeting is for the board to vote on a District Improvement Plan, to be filed with the state; on purchasing three more floors at the Downtown building that would house the consolidated middle-grade and high-school arts magnets; and on hiring consultants related to Mr. Roosevelt's high-school improvement plan.

One such project would be the conversion of the former Reizenstein Middle School building in Shadyside into a new International Baccalaureate school that would take some of Schenley's students. Another would be the conversion of the former Milliones Middle School building in the Hill District into a university-affiliated school that also would take some of Schenley's students.

The district said design work must begin immediately if the new schools are to open next school year.

But Mr. Brentley said taking the initial steps on new homes for Schenley students is a "back-door way" to dismantle Schenley before the public hearing and formal vote on the school's fate. He also said he's uncomfortable moving forward now because board members Patrick Dowd and Daniel Romaniello Sr. will be leaving the board in a month.

While Dr. Dowd and Mr. Romaniello may vote Wednesday on hiring the construction managers and architects, their successors -- Heather Arnet and Sherry Hazuda -- would vote in February on Schenley's closing.

The Nov. 27 special public hearing isn't residents' only opportunity to comment on Schenley. Residents may speak about Schenley or other topics at the board's regular monthly hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Residents can register to speak at either hearing by calling district offices.

Joe Smydo can be reached at 412-263-1548.
First published on November 10, 2007 at 12:00 am
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