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Woodland Hills gathers data on school closings

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Karen Zapf
Friday, October 13, 2006

A member of the Woodland Hills School Board said Thursday he understands the rationale for taking a look at closing three schools in the district by 2009.
Still, board member Fred Kuhn said he wants to look at all options before deciding whether to close Shaffer Primary in Churchill, Rankin Intermediate in Rankin and East Junior High School in Turtle Creek.

“They’re on the table for discussion,” Kuhn said. “But they may all be taken off the table. It (the study) is in the beginning stages. I want to get more information.”

Kuhn said Shaffer, Rankin and East Junior High have declining enrollment.

District enrollment has dropped 3.2 percent over the last four years and total enrollment is projected to be at 5,100 in 2009, Kuhn said. About a decade ago, the district had about 6,000 students.
The reasons for the declining enrollment, Kuhn said, include lower birth rates, people moving because of tax rates, and other educational options, such as private schools and Propel East in Turtle Creek, a tuition-free, independent public school.

The district needs a long-term financial plan in part because the teachers’ contract expires in June. The tax rate in the Woodland Hills School District is 23.9 mills.

Deborah Pike, Shaffer Primary Parent Teacher Organization president, said she wants more information from the district about the proposal.

Pike, of Churchill, said enrollment declined from 365 several years ago to 320 this year. Shaffer houses pupils in kindergarten through third grade. It’s a “decent-sized school,” she said. “It’s not like our halls are empty.”

Pike said it would be challenging to move the students at Shaffer to the other district schools because parking is limited at Edgewood Primary, and Wilkins Primary might not have space for more children.

Karen Zapf can be reached at or (412) 380-8522.

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