North Allegheny could close Peebles Elementary in cost-saving move
The North Allegheny superintendent recommended to the school board Wednesday night that the district close one of its seven elementary schools — Peebles — in an effort to save money and said the board could take a final vote on the controversial issue by April.
Superintendent Raymond Gualtieri said the district could save $850,000 by closing the McCandless school and spreading those students to the remaining elementary schools. He said the district has excess capacity in the schools to handle the students and that class sizes would remain within district guidelines.
“Closing Peebles will not compromise the excellence of our programs,” Gualtieri told the board.
About 100 parents attended the meeting, which was moved to the Carson Middle School auditorium to accommodate the crowd.
Most of the parents were opposed to the closure, saying the small cost savings aren't worth it and would hurt property values.
“I don't think they've adequately looked at all of the schools' options for closure,” said Steve Bolibruck, 36, of McCandless, who has two children at Peebles. “There's a deficit of $10 million, and we're saving $850,000 by closing a school.”
“It's a whole lot of disruption for a minimal dent in our deficit,” said his wife, Shannon Bolibruck, 35.
Gualtieri has said the district is projected to face a $10 million budget deficit for the 2013-14 school year. He has said further cuts in spending will require altering or eliminating programs.
Tara Fisher, 36, of McCandless, part of the “Save NA Schools” group, passed out a 32-page report contesting the conclusions made by the administration. Fisher contends the school closure would push up class sizes and bring the district dangerously close to capacity in the remaining buildings.
“It's less than one percent of the district's budget,” Fisher said. “I'm saying it's not worth it. You're disrupting the entire elementary education model.”
Gualtieri said the board could hold the required public hearing for the school closure in January and vote in April.
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org