• South Allegheny School District

    Excellence in Education

    District Realignment FAQ’s

     

    Why is this model the best plan for our district?

    Educational resources….quality education for all students...equal opportunities for all students...growing our programs…

     

    What will my child’s day look like?

    Elementary - arrive between 8:15-8:50, 5 core classes and 1 special per day plus lunch, dismissal 3:20ish

    MS - arrival and dismissal times will be similar, learning opportunities will also be similar with core classes, rotation electives, band, chorus, and lunch

    HS - same as this year

    Education Center - full day of instruction during same time frame as rest of the district

     

    Will the start and end times of the school day change?

    The timing will depend on the busing.  If we have to run two bus runs we will need to adjust the times for students.

     

    What time will the busses come?

    Bus schedules will be posted before the start of the new year, just like in the past.

     

    When and how will students be notified of their assigned bus and stop locations?

    This information is released by PA Coach , as it is part of their contractual commitments.  We will work with them to ensure accuracy and efficiency to the best of our capabilities but it is a contracted service.  This is not directly provided by the District.

     

    Can our current buses handle this configuration?

    We have a standing contract with PA Coach.  They have been in discussions with the district and understand the new configuration.   They have already started looking at how the new configurations will affect the transporting of our students and will provide the district with their operational plan.  This is a service we pay for them to provide. The district will be working alongside of them.



    Are all K-5 students riding the same bus?  Will the stops change? Will there be more buses or bus runs?

    Yes, all K-5 students will ride together. Times will need to be adjusted slightly but the timeframe of the school day isn’t changing.  Because more kids are getting picked up at one stop we’ll have less stops per bus.

     

    Will the students at the Education Center come in on the same buses as the other students?

    No. They will have a separate run.  Most likely to assume the timeframe of the previous ECC run.

     

    K/1 students currently need a parent with them at the bus stop, will this practice continue?

    If students have an older sibling walking home from the stop,  K/1 students will not need an adult present. K/1 students without an older sibling will need to be at the stop when their child is getting on and off the designated bus, daily.  Just as we have done previously, K/1 students without a parent or older sibling will not be released from the bus.

     

    Will there be staff monitors on the SAE buses for K/1 students as there have been in the past?

    Yes and we will continue to use the wristband system.

     

    Will there be one or two runs for buses in the MSHS?

    We currently run two, middle school is after high school.  This practice will continue.

     

    Will we still offer Pre K Counts programs to our families?

    Yes, our intent is to continue with two classrooms in the elementary building.  Details will need to be worked out with the AIU, as we do not run those programs, per say.  The AIU utilizes our space.

     

    Will K Transition be moved to SAE now?

    The Wednesday evening February 27th session will be held at ECC.

    The Wednesday, March 13th and 27th sessions will be held at SAE.

     

    Will K still be a full day?

    Absolutely!  Having all the students in the same building will increase our ability to deliver educational services.

     

    This is going to be difficult for kindergarten students just starting.  How are you going to help them adjust?

    These kids won't have anything to compare to.  They truly have no transition being made. We will offer the same types of programs that we have previously for helping kindergarten students transition into school in general, it just happens to be at SAE.  We hope with parent input and support to offer a few more ideas for acclimating any student who may need it.

     

    My kindergarten student will be going to the big school.  How will I know he or she will receive the same level of early childhood treatment as they do now?

    The educational services will actually be stronger.  With staff concentrated in one building, small group instruction will happen in smaller groups...this is a definite bonus. Opportunities for STEM and technology will increase.  Our curriculum and programming are staying the same with the level of supports growing. Separate rooms for gym and lunch. In addition, collaboration among teachers will heighten as they will all be in the same building.  This will allow for more communication with staff. This will also eliminate the need for our 2nd graders to adjust to a new building and system.

     

    Does the elementary have room for these extra grades?

    Yes.  Remember 6th grade is moving up.  We use to have 6 of every classroom.  The building has three computer labs that can be repurposed because we have mobile Chromebook carts for technology usage.  The LGI room and library will be seeing some exciting changes to their environments, with the development of new curricular opportunities, as we create a digital media center.

     

    Are they moving the playground equipment from ECC?

    Not at this time.

     

    What's the condition of the building at SAE?

    The building has a safe occupancy, as deemed by the engineers.

     

    My fifth grade student will not have the same celebrations as the sixth grade students do this year?

    Example: We don’t have 6th grade graduation as it was in years past.  We honor students who have achieved academic excellence with the Presidential Awards, a National campaign.  That can still be done with 6th graders. No need to change that. 6th graders get to participate in the middle school student of the month awards.



    Will there still be recess?

    For grades K-5, yes.  For 6th graders, no, but we are looking at the feasibility to offer intramurals to them.

     

    Will our kids still have specials?

    Yes.  Nothing is changing there accept access to better designed spaces and equipment.

     

    What groups of students will be eating lunch and having recess together?

    Grade appropriate.  Never more than a three year span at elementary level.

     

    What does this mean for elementary band students?

    We are exploring options.  Right now, it looks like 6th grade band students will be serviced by Mrs. Kovacs.  We could potentially add band as an opportunity for 4th graders. This is an undecided decision, at this time.

     

    Will there still be opportunities for the parents to come to programs and performances at the elementary level?

    Yes...hopefully more.  Parking is more conducive to having more parents in the building at one time.

     

    How will the Elementary PTA operate?

    Resources can now be combined.  Parents will be helping and volunteering for one organization, instead of two.  No need to take double vacation days. One meeting. Eliminates double fundraising.  Provides more support for families who had to choose and couldn’t do both. Membership costs reduced to one organization not two.  Less stress for officers. Organizing same activities and theme days. Less confusion for what is going on. Assemblies can be planned for all grade levels in one building vs. two and it cost less.

     

    Is there a MS PTA?

    Currently there is not; however, if you are interested in starting one, please show your interest.

     

    I’m the parent of a 5th grader who is concerned about my child going to the MS as a 6th grader with older kids in the building.  How will you ensure that 6th graders are not mixing with high school students?

    Currently we run a middle school within a high school where the 7th and 8th graders are separated from the high school students.  This will continue with the addition of the 6th grade. The MS will be established as their own building with their own principal, secretary and guidance counselor.

     

    Will 6th graders have 9 different classes/teachers like MS or will they switch less often?

    Students will still have 5 core classes for instruction and at least one specialty area per day.  We are exploring the possibility of adding an additional period of time to offer core enrichment and remediation for state tested subjects.

     

    Will 6th graders have lockers?

    Yes.

     

    Can my sixth grade student play sports?

    For WPIAL purposes, no.  But that isn’t different for 6th graders anywhere.  They don’t have them at the elementary either. Again these are beyond our control. Students do have opportunities to join clubs and have intramurals.  

     

    How are MS and HS students going to be separated?  Supposedly they are to be divided now but it doesn’t necessarily happen like that.  What plan do you have for addressing this?

    The middle school will now stack on top of itself, instead of using the bottom floor.  Sixth grade will be located on the first floor, closest to the auditorium. Lockers will be by the auditorium as well for that grade.  Seventh grade and eighth grade will use the rest of the first floor area and the second floor directly above. Students will use a seperate stairwell in order to keep the flow of middle and high school students as separated as possible.  Additionally, when students are moving to a shared space (art room, library, etc.) the sixth grade students will meet in the lobby and walk with their teacher to the classroom. It is our goal to make the middle school students feel as comfortable in their space as possible, and provide a visual representation of that location as well.  

     

    How will the secondary kids move about the building without MS and HS intermixing?

    Separate stairwells are going to be designated for the two different programs.  Teachers will escort younger MS students to specials areas. The building also operates on two bell systems.   The students at the MS and HS will not be moving to their scheduled classes at the same time. Lastly, because students are being held to higher  expectations for behaviors conducive to learning, hallways are organized and free of student disruptions.

     

    What types of electives will be available grades 6-12?

    We are creating an educational atmosphere that reflects qualities of becoming a 21st century graduate.

     

    How do you expect to get a whole other grade into the MSHS building?

    There is room.  Classroom space has not been maximized.  Secondary buildings, unlike elementary buildings, do not have to have one teacher per classroom.  We have classrooms not being utilized for a full day. Please do not take this as students learning in the same place at the same time.   This is not what will be occurring. Instead, two teachers may use the same classroom but during different periods.

     

    Are they adding classes at the high school?

    Yes, it is the plan of the high school administration to offer additional courses for the 2019-2020 school year.

     

    Will the teachers stay the same?  

    Some staff changes will occur.  There will be movement of staff to support the strongest roll out of educational services, with a focus that reflects teacher strengths.

     

    When will my child know who their teacher is?

    We will keep the same delivery method as used previously to notify families of their child’s homeroom.  That information is normally released one week prior to the start of school.

     

    Where will my child’s classroom be?

    We have the buildings mapped out.  We can give you a general idea now for the grade levels.  Once homerooms are determined, just like normal, homerooms will be announced. Additionally, we will offer visitation opportunities for all students and families to walk through their space.  

     

    Who will be the secretaries?  What about the principal?

    Staff will be determined once enrollment numbers are set.  This is something that is adjusted every year, based on pupil count.  

     

    Will there be a “move up day” for kids?

    Yes.

     

    As a parent, will I be involved in the transition process?

    Move Up days, Meet the teachers, PTA’s joining together, being a part of the parent advisory council

     

    Will there be orientations and/or transition nights for students and parents?

    Yes.  We want to offer several different opportunities for students and parents to become acclimated.

     

    Are you going to have a committee with parents on it that can assist as we go through these changes?

    Yes.  

     

    Will families get to visit the school with their child before school starts?

    Yes.

     

    Is there a plan to acclimate students with special needs to their new setting?

    Yes, our intent is to establish dates, seperate from move up days, for special education students and families to visit the schools and classrooms.   

     

    Is this for economic or educational purposes?

    The educational opportunities will be stronger as special services will be less spread out so that all students can receive them.  Most school districts run middle school 6-8 so this is in line with other districts. This is providing equitable educational opportunities for our students and also maintaining fiscal responsibility, which are our goals as a district.  

     

    What will the district do with the k/1 building?

    It’s becoming an education center that will house several different programs.   For instance, credit recovery for high school students who need additional credits to graduate with their peers.  The building will house a brick and mortar cyber program that provides face to face professional educational support services.  Additionally, programs to educate students with social, emotional or behavioral health concerns will be available.

     

    Are the classrooms going to be overcrowded in any of the levels?

    Overcrowding is not what is best for our students, therefore everything possible will be considered and done to maintain classroom sizes consistent with what is considered an optimal learning environment.  




    What programs will be offered at the Education Center?

    Credit Recovery, SA Cyber Program, programs for students experiencing social , emotional, academic or behavioral challenges

     

    Will there be a limit to the number of students who can enroll in the cyber program?

    Enrollment will vary based upon course offerings and student needs.

     

    Are teachers being furloughed or other jobs lost?  Custodian? Secretaries, Paras? Health Aide?

    The next step in this process is staffing, which depends on enrollments, building, and operational needs.  We will be working to ensure that our students receive a quality education that keeps in mind optimal learning environments.  

     

    Does this save money?

    Although the reason for this realignment was not based solely on financial implications, there is an opportunity for savings for the district through bringing students back into our learning environments.  This savings will result in monies being reinvested in our students, which is a very good thing.

     

    Can someone please explain the need for a building if kids are on a cyber program?

    While it could be argued that providing a building is not required for cyber school, it has proven to be more beneficial for the student choosing this method of learning.  This model gives the student the addition of a face to face opportunity to work with an educator and not just through a chat head icon. Building these types of relationships often bring students back to the mainstream flow of the educational setting, increasing their educational learning and the opportunities we can offer as a district for all students because educational costs are minimized and therefore spread out among all students.

     

    What is the cyber program and how will it work?

    We will be using the Seneca Valley Academy of Choice, which is currently used by over 60 other school districts in Western PA.  The teacher of record in most cases will be our staff member, unless a student is taking a course that we don’t have a teacher certified in that particular area.   

     

    What about students using the cyber program that are younger students?

    The Seneca Valley Academy of Choice is a K-12 cyber program that will be available to families.  

     

    Will cyber students be expected to stay all day?  Will they be transported?

    Cyber students will have options, with the biggest one being an actual brick and mortar building for them to receive assistance with their coursework and an actual teacher to work with them.  This can happen on an as-needed basis through a schedule that works best for both the student and the educator.

     

    Why weren't there meetings ahead of time to include the public's opinions before a decision was made?

    Public meetings are required for the closing of buildings.  Realigning schools, does not require the same process. As the educational leaders in the district we developed the existing realignment plan after thorough examination of data and student specific needs.  It is now time to celebrate these changes with all the stakeholders and continue to grow our programs.

     

    What can the public do now?

    Join the parent advisory council.  Stay connected with updates on the District’s website.  Email us questions or concerns you may still have. Share positive feedback, if you wish.  Help to encourage your child(ren) about the positives.

     

    Will there still be a night school?

    No.  Not necessary.  Those services will now be offered at the Education Center by our staff, at no additional costs.

     

    My child has an IEP/ 504 plan.  How will that be implemented?

    These are legal documents.   They will continue to be implemented as they always have.  In fact, by strengthening the educational services we provide, students needs will continue to be met with high levels of implementation.  This restructuring ensures those high levels can continue.

     

    ECC was the only top performing school, why change that?

    ECC assessment ratings are actually based off of third grade data.  The State does not complete a formal assessment in grades K-2. Yes our third grade scores are holding their own, although we have seen a noticeable drop.  Having the grade levels together will assist greatly in providing staffing resources. It allows for better curricular flow and professional development among the staff for streamlining needs and accelerating learning.  (For instance, WIN groups and scheduling changes. Also, according to the new Future Ready PA Index, our attendance is actually in the red.)

     

    Will staff and students have to share learning spaces at exactly the same time?

    No. Classrooms will be shared by staff but not at the same time.  We are in a rare situation where most secondary teaching classrooms are not used during the teacher’s prep or lunch and even during some other times of the day.  Teachers may share a learning space but not where two classes are learning two different courses in the same space at the same time.

     

    Doesn’t the K-5 building mirror the former look of our community schools, as far as K-5 students being together?

    Yes, our community schools were K-6 buildings.  Students were walking or riding buses together.

     

    This year many students were a month into school and still did not have schedules.  Is that going to be the case again this year?

    It is the plan that the middle/high school will begin scheduling prior to the end of March.  It is our intention that all students will receive their schedule in a timely manner and without the need for revision.  However, due to the fact that students and parents often do want to make changes after they receive their schedule, we will still provide days over the summer for that purpose.  

     

    Will our school district ever offer “digital days” like EF on snow days?

    The “digital days” was a pilot program which was offered by the state a few years ago.   The only way we could move to a program such as that is if we had a 1:1 system in place for our district in grades K-12.  

     

    Are we going to get more funding by doing this?

    Funding is based on students enrolled within our district.  It is our hope to increase enrollment through increased academic success, course and program offerings, supports for our students, and innovative educational practices.  It is our belief that this realignment will make all of these things a reality.

     

    I have heard that if school districts realign it is a last step attempt of saving themselves before they are taken over, is this why SA is doing this?

    There has been no discussion of being “taken over”.  This is what is best for our kids.

     

    Why fix a problem we don't have?

    Correction, we do have concerns, both academic and financial.  We are acknowledging the need for an improved educational system and that includes better usage of space, resources and personnel to meet our student needs.  

     

    Are you doing this to save jobs?

    That is not the motivation for doing this but this will be more fiscally responsible for the district and will allow for monies to be spent where it is needed most...providing services directly to students.

     

    Why did the District wait so long to tell us this was going to happen?

    We are not any different than other school districts who have done this.   Developing a vision for a school district needs to happen in phases.

     

    Is there another way to get the information if we can't attend the meeting?

    Yes, a link will be available on the district’s website, as well as the powerpoint and this FAQ document will be found there.  We will continue to update this space as we continue planning. Lastly, a dedicated email address for asking questions will also be provided as we move forward.