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Decision on Schenley High School postponed

Wednesday, January 30, 2008
By Joe Smydo,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The city school board’s vote on the closing of the Pittsburgh Schenley High School building will be put off until spring so officials can continue to study the feasibility of renovating the building.

A vote on the building’s fate was widely expected at the board’s Feb. 27 legislative meeting.

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt last night said he didn’t want to give Schenley supporters false hope, but wants more time to study “every option” for saving the building.

“We believe we should spend a couple of extra months doing that,” he told board members at a workshop on high school improvement.

School board member Heather Arnet thanked Mr. Roosevelt for considering pleas to spare the historic Oakland building.

Kathy Fine, a Schenley supporter, called the announcement a “very positive move” and a nod to community members who have been brainstorming for ways to raise money and reduce renovation costs.

Mr. Roosevelt unleashed a firestorm last fall when he proposed closing the building at the end of the school year, saying the district couldn’t afford $64 million to address asbestos and other maintenance problems.

He has proposed moving Schenley’s current 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders to the Reizenstein building in Shadyside next school year and allowing them to remain together until graduation. Students who would have entered Schenley as freshmen next school year would be absorbed by other schools.

The district held a public hearing on the proposal Nov. 27 so the board could vote Feb. 27. State law requires that a hearing be held at least three months before the vote to close a school.

Mr. Roosevelt said he never committed to a Feb. 27 vote on the building’s future, though people have had that impression. He said he will ask the board to vote next month on moving students out of the Schenley building for the next school year.

Whether the building is closed or renovated, he said, students won’t be able to attend class there in 2008-09.

He said the board must vote promptly on reassigning the students so Reizenstein or another building can be readied for them.

Joe Smydo can be reached at or 412-263-1548.
First published on January 30, 2008 at 12:00 am

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