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North Allegheny redistricting prevented crowding in schools, officials say

| Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, 1:51 p.m.

The North Allegheny School District's redistricting helped offset the demographic shifts the district has been experiencing for several years, an official said.

School administrators presented enrollment and facilities and capital funding plan updates at a board meeting last week.

There were 8,229 students enrolled in the district on the third day of school this academic year, compared to 8,257 in 2013-14 and 8,212 in 2012-13.

In February, the school board approved a controversial plan to redraw school boundaries because Franklin and McKnight elementary schools and Ingomar Middle School were or soon would be crowded because of population shifts, district officials said.

There were 3,549 students enrolled in the elementary schools and 1,927 enrolled in middle schools on the third day of school, but the redistricting plan that took effect at the start of the school year alleviated or prevented crowding problems, said Roger Botti, director of transportation and operations.

Ingomar Middle School, for example, is considered to have a maximum capacity of 600 students. Without the redistricting, 645 would have been enrolled, instead of the 566 enrolled, according to district data.

Franklin Elementary School can accommodate 550 students. Without the redistricting, 514 would have been enrolled, instead of the 430 enrolled now, according to district data.

Staff presented a capital funding plan Wednesday that showed $34 million in proposed school and other facility renovations and improvements, but the cost for 2015-16 is estimated to be $4.5 million.

The district's estimated cost for information technology is $316,800 this school year. Interactive projectors have been installed in the fourth and fifth grades and installation for sixth grade will start in December or January, said Bill Phillips, senior manager of information technology.

School board Vice President Tara Fisher said she was concerned about some of the renovation projects being proposed, such as the $150,000 to paint the stands in Newman Stadium and the $350,000 to renovate the press box, and questioned the benefits.

“I know that the district is in a position where we've faced a lot of financial challenges,” said Fisher, who said she supported spending to create digital classrooms.

School board member Maureen Grosheider said classroom technology was important, but the district should not shortchange students who use athletic facilities. School board members should tour facilities before making decisions about spending, she said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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