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The Foreword

“We’re About Half Full” Pittsburgh School Leaders Present Draft Facilities Utilization Plan

Superintendent Wayne N. Walters speaks to City Council 
for the annual Take A Father To School Day proclamation.
Jason Cohn
Superintendent Wayne N. Walters speaks to City Council for the annual Take A Father To School Day proclamation.

On April 3, 2024, the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) board of directors received a presentation from district leaders regarding a proposal for a School District Facilities Utilization Plan. According to PPS, the plan will establish changes to buildings and facilities. The board received that presentation alongside the public during the April 3rd education committee meeting, after voting to request it during the January legislative meeting.

According to the district presentation, 44 schools are rated “at least an E” on the educational adequacy index. This means 44 schools’ physical qualities pose challenges for equitable education.

Per school utilization data, Pittsburgh Allderdice is the only school that exceeds functional capacity.

“Budgets are rooted in projected enrollment,” Superintendent Dr. Wayne Walters told the board. Allderdice is 100 students below the projected 2023-24 student population, according to officials.

Walters told The Foreword, “During the budgeting process which starts in January and after the board approves the budget, we start allocating funds and resources for schools. Each school gets a projected enrollment and that always dictates staffing needs.”

Allderdice has informed 12 staff members that they will be cut next year due to projected enrollment. Walters commented on Allderdice’s 12 staffing cuts saying, “Allderdice had a projection of 1,377 students, so the funding for that amount of students was what they received. Although they were 100 students below that projection, staff was never removed [in the 2022-2023 year].” Staffing cuts are determined by how recently the staff member was hired.

“This year, Allderdice was projected 30 students lower than what they actually have…so now it’s actually 130 students lower in total,” said the superintendent.

The district is requesting the help of a third-party company to assist in the process. The Foreword interviewed School Board President, Gene Walker, during the April 18 agenda review meeting. “The district doesn’t have the capacity to go about getting that feedback as well as it could with an independent consultant,” Walker added. He said, “There is value in having an independent third party to validate, question, or push back on some of the assumptions being made…there are many stakeholders that need to be involved in that.”

Superintendent Dr. Wayne Walters presents facilities proposal to the school board on April 3, 2024 at PPS Central Office.

The district is asking the third-party consultant to follow 12 recommendations. PPS has tasked the consultant with a primary recommendation, asking them to “Develop safe, modern, and effective learning environments across PPS, ensuring equitable access to high-quality education for all students, irrespective of their background or identity.”

The proposed recommendations are related to district goals meant to shift school leadership, focuses, and priorities.

On the topic of a consultant leading the proposal, Allderdice principal, Dr. James McCoy, said, “I know that this is a very complex issue, so any information that the district can receive from others who have taken part in similar transitions would be useful.”

The administration says it will utilize, “questionnaire surveys, focus groups, community workshops, online platforms, targeted mailings and communications to connect with families.”

On April 24, 2024, the board approved Education Resources Strategies as the consultant to lead this proposal.

However, 412 Justice, a community-based advocacy group, is protesting the possibility of school closures and a lack of community engagement. In an attempt to clear any questions or doubts, Walters said, “Right now, there is no list of school closures.”

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About the Contributor
Pavel Marin
Pavel Marin, Staff Writer
Pavel Marin is a senior at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School. He serves as Member of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, Ambassador at The Promise, and Youth Board Member of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. Outside of his roles, he enjoys quality time with friends and family, while also keeping up to date with political news and world affairs.

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