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

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