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Whither Duquesne schools?

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Letter to the Editor
Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Who would not want quality education and stable finances from a public school district? This is precisely the goal of the recovery for the Duquesne City School District.

Though Duquesne once boasted superb achievement by its students, the situation has changed. K-6 test scores in reading and mathematics are now among the lowest in the state. The children deserve better.

Not only education has changed. In better times, Duquesne was a thriving city that supported excellent schools. However, the economy of the community has weakened, and for 12 years the district has been in financial distress.

The recovery plan for the district must address these unsatisfactory situations, both educational and financial. To do so, four scenarios are being studied.

1. Continue to operate the K-6 program as it is now exists. This scenario provides a baseline to compare the other three.

2. Place K-6 students at nearby public schools with voluntary agreements between the receiving school districts and the Duquesne City School District. The receiving schools would need to have adequate classroom capacity and appropriate academic programs, and tuition would have to be affordable to Duquesne.

3. Like the above scenario, place K-6 students in classes at nearby schools, but enrollment and tuition would be mandated. New legislation would be needed.

4. Establish a charter school in Duquesne City for K-6 students. The charter school would be selected by a competitive proposal process. This scenario is not financially viable without new legislation or some extraordinary new revenue source.

Paul B. Long

The writer is the Pennsylvania Department of Education's chief recovery officer for the Duquesne City School District.

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