ShareThis Page

Declining enrollment shrinks Gateway's teaching staff

| Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Gateway teaching staff will shrink in size next school year, which coincides with a shrinking student body.

The school board voted last week to delete 6.5 teaching positions from the high school, 1.5 positions from Gateway Middle School and one position at the elementary level. The district is projected to lose 87 students next year.

The district's student body has decreased by 852 since the 2007-08 school year, according to the preliminary budget.

Gateway positions eliminated include a social-studies teacher at the high school, after the district recently mandated students complete four years of the subject in order to graduate, social studies department chairman Mark Wallace said.

“We don't know how that will affect classroom sizes in the future,” Wallace said. “I just wish they would've waited a year.”

Administrators did, however, assign a middle school teacher to cover two social studies classes at the high school to help keep class sizes down.

“They did address my concerns on some level,” Wallace said.

A common concern among residents at recent school board meetings was the possibility of a tax increase, as the school board faced a $2.5 million budget shortfall in 2014-15.

The board was scheduled to vote on a budget at the regular meeting Wednesday, after this paper went to print. For an update, see

A majority of school directors have spoken out against a tax increase, which likely would mean the use of reserve funds to balance the budget.

“If we have to use the fund balance, we have to use the fund balance,” Gateway School Director Skip Drumheller said Monday.

District expenditures increased about $3 million this year, due in part to state-mandated retirement costs and increased health care costs, according to the preliminary budget.

Drumheller said payments in lieu of taxes from Monroeville hospitals which are nonprofit organizations could have covered the deficit this year. Monroeville and City of Pittsburgh officials have pushed periodically over the last few years for a PILOT program (payment in lieu of taxes) to press UPMC and Allegheny Health Network to contribute a portion of revenue to the community where they operate.

Community leaders argue that even though the hospitals are exempt from paying taxes, they generate enough cash each year to contribute to the community.

“A big revenue generator could be the large nonprofits,” Drumheller said. “They're paying nothing.”

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.