Northgate School District Budget Consideration by Mark Robinson

After thorough consideration of the facts and economic/sociological realities, Liberty in Bellevue member Mark Robinson offers this objective ¬†explanation for how the Northgate School District has come to the point necessitating difficult choices. The boroughs of Bellevue and Avalon are positioned to be something far greater than they’ve been in recent decades but it will require the combined will and effort of all those who love these communities. We invite you to reflect on Mr. Robinson’s work and become part of the solution which could make the North Boroughs one of Pittsburgh’s destination communities.

If the presentation does not work correctly you can find it by clicking here (Northgate Budget Direction PDF File).


9 Responses to “Northgate School District Budget Consideration by Mark Robinson”

  1. I’m certain that much of this is true. Your research into the numbers is very helpful. The issue I’m having is that the decision was handled very poorly with no alternative ideas to speak of. So, now I don’t trust them to have considered any solutions that didn’t involve such drastic cuts. Plus, do you really feel that the cuts combined with inadequate tax increases to only just maintain the current situation is even remotely an effective way to move forward? The Board and Superintendent need to find ways to improve curriculum and test scores, not just merely survive with the district hanging by a thread. And please, someone remind me how merging with a district like Avonworth would be so horrific.

    • I agree with Mike that the handling of the school board’s difficult decision was not such that I would make the best “PR Rep” for them, as suggested in the presentation. A decision, however “necessary,” that will cripple the community, was dropped into the community’s awareness and then passed right before their eyes at a meeting where said community’s members were basically scoffed at, disregarded, and just barely tolerated by that school board.

      Even with the same end result-those same cuts made gradually might have made a big difference. The time to adjust to the losses would have been great to garner support and boost morale- maybe even allow for a little growth. Rather- the unceremonious announcement and following communication shut down led to an angry community of people desperate for answers, spreading hearsay and panic and sealing the districts reputation as a failing one, as presented to potential community members. ( There aren’t going to be many people moving into the area if they have students in their households- because Northgate schools are now reputed to be failing.)

      I would be interested in knowing how the cuts at the elementary level will be justified, as the enrollment levels have not dropped at all. The numbers have remained steady, unlike the junior/ senior highschool. Can they still claim it isn’t bugetary? How?

      It’s sad. It’s sad that an area with such high school taxes would be an area with such poor schools. this doesn’t speak well for the school board we’re being called to show support for, either…did this problem just develop? It is my understanding that these budget problems have been increasing annually, the enrollment has been on a steady decline…why make emergency cuts right this minute to solve a problem that’s been looming? Some of these board members have been seated for 16+ years. are they just now noticing? What is it about their decision that begs respect?

      This is all not to say that the members of this district’s community should roll over and die- I just felt the need to speak against the rah rah tone of being encouraged to spread the “good word” of Northgate’s School Board, and to show any support for the way that this problem was handled. if ANYONE needs to learn some PR skills, it wold be those who just pulled the rug out of the community and then covered their ears and turned their backs to those they knocked down.

      I think community involvement is a great idea- make the best of living here, if you have to. Likely you will not be able to sell your home, so it wouldn’t help anything to just complain and wallow in disappointment. This is an adorable area with a lot of potential, but without a thriving school district and opportunity for the success of the next generation, it is not going to attract real estate buyers. That is simply a fact. Maybe the community should aspire to be an affordable bedroom community that could entice commuters for their early working years- or the years after their kids have finished school.

      Basically, its a bummer that we have to deal with; money doesn’t grow on trees- but the problem was in the way that the Superintendent and school board handled the whole thing. They could have been careful, they could have presented facts, they could have fielded questions, they could have managed the panic that ensued. Rather, they rolled their eyes, they ignored all questions and inquiries, and they sent this thing to the streets where it was picked up by the media, They are DIRECTLY responsible for the reputation and negative attention that they just earned.

      I think presenting what facts you could find was insightful, Mr. Robinson, but unless you are someone who is a school board member, and who was involved in the decision- I hope you’ll forgive any reluctance to just accept these facts and support the board based on your assessment. Numbers should be provided and sad truths should be addressed by those involved if they are to garner any kind of support or understanding.

  2. I don’t see how the school board can be blamed or criticized for anything. The school board is simply reacting to the changing demographics of the community and are making required adjustments. We are dismayed that the adjustments will only help the school district remain afloat but what can be done with only so many resources? Maybe the school board did not present the case to everyone’s satisfaction but it is difficult to meet that expectation when emotion and a general misunderstanding of how public entities function prevail.

  3. WELL why was the school board ignoring this problem until NOW? why did they think that dropping the news and ignoring the reaction would be wise? Who WOULDN’T expect a dramatic reaction to such a “solution”?! I think they were ill prepared, they cause undue stress and panic- they cut off ALL COMMUNICATION with the community. they kept whatever cards they may have close to their vest, and refused to educate the public about the whys and the whats. While they may have been helpless to find another solution that would please everyone and fix the problem- they handled this one about as badly as they possibly could have- and for that? yeah. They’re to blame. Bad job, guys.

  4. Believe me, I am not a friend of the school board. I personally believe some of the school board members are not qualified to be on the school board. What school boards need as members are people qualified to manage public entities, not educators. Education should be left to the superintendent staff and principals and down to the teachers. It is not a function of the school board to educate the public. If you need to know what is going on in the district go to board meetings and ask questions. The board members have neither the time nor the inclination to explain every decision or circumstance to a public that has little understanding of the processes. They are not to blame for the termination of personnel. They are simply the bearers of bad news. Have you entertained the idea that the board may have spent months examining all possible remedies and when they realized there were none other than terminating people they then made their announcement? What could possibly be accomplished by hinting of massive cuts prior to the cuts becoming an absolute reality?

  5. I feel like you’re being intentionally obtuse, Bill. Did you just tell me to go to school board meetings and ask questions if I wanted answers? Thank you for that laugh.
    Have you SEEN how the last couple of meetings went ? With all the answers that were provided to those present? Who are you kidding?
    I don’t even consider this to be a decision- inasmuch as they had little choice but to finally make some changes- they’ve let the problem escalate to a fever pitch, and it was really now or never- rather than handle this issue over time- allow for small increments of adjustment starting when enrollment began to decline, making adjustments to appropriate areas, rather than just chopping blindly across the board at the last minute.
    I actually DO think they have some responsibility to provide a background and at least brief explanation of things to the community. This isn’t just a little thing, Bill- this is the future of the community. This is a huge reason that people will not consider home ownership in the community. Who wants to pay high school taxes for a district like Northgate?! I can see if the school board didn’t feel obligated to explain or educate on when the newsletter will be produced- but I absolutely disagree with you that they don’t owe the community some information on this. It would give them credibility and provide comfort to the community they support.

    So, yeah- while I accept that possibly their hands were tied at this late point in the game, they provided the absolute least they could possibly provide to the community on this (I guess we should be glad they even told us about the cuts at the meeting?) We should applaud them on reaching the new Northgate Standard of Bare Minimum! They’re preparing us for what’s to come. Bravo. I guess you’re a fan of this level of excellence- I can’t see why you’d be standing in it’s defense- unless you just enjoy being contrary.

  6. why don’t they advertise when the school board meetings are? i would like very to attend one thank you sheeba

  7. Sheeba,
    LiB has put together a few members to cover the school board meetings and other school district news. You can view the 1/14 school board meeting video here:

    We are working on getting the 1/21 school board meeting video onto the LiB site.
    As Bryan mentioned, they post the schedule on the school website. We hope to see you at a meeting in the future, and we look forward to your input and involvement in the community!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: