Thursday, July 30, 2009

Falling Population Fuels Construction Debate In Mt. Lebanon

Newlyweds David and Marie Reese moved from Shadyside to Mt. Lebanon 39 years ago, lured by the pre-eminence of the school district's facilities and educational offerings.

Today, population loss is threatening that status. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of people living in Mt. Lebanon fell by 2,591 to 30,381. Its high school is projected to lose 239 students between 2006 and 2013.

"A number of people are leaving Mt. Lebanon or not moving into Mt. Lebanon because they see what townships like Upper St. Clair, Peters, Bethel Park are doing in terms of amenities and facilities for their communities," said Reese, 65, the father of two Mt. Lebanon High School graduates.

Link: www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_635682.html

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5 Comments:

Blogger dave said...

This article completely sums up what is so frustrating to me about the high school project. First and for the record, I am a huge sports fan. My kids are and will remain active in the many sports available in Lebo. With any luck, one or more will eventually compete at the high school level. But can we please stop tying every discussion about the new school to a discussion about the athletic facilities? If all we needed was another gym, a bigger pool, new locker rooms and some stadium improvements, we could cut the anticipated spend by 70%, do those things and get on with our lives. However, it's not only about those things. It's about the education and improving the quality of that education. If the advocates for a new school really want to sway their opponents and the fence sitters, talk less about gyms and more about education.

Second, the USC/Peters/Lebo comparison is completely lost on me. Yes, I understand that we compete in many respects. However, I refuse to believe that we are behind in the race or poised to fall behind. Quite frankly, I don't even want to be in the race. Its apples to oranges. USC has about 14,000 fewer residents, Peters about 15,000 fewer. Our school district handles about 1,000 more students than USC and Peters and that's a difference equal to more than half of our current high school enrollment. With significantly more residents and students, we have different issues and different obstacles. That's a fact that we can't change overnight or perhaps even in our lifetime. Need proof, just compare the budget figures for each community. The differences are amazing. Peters and USC - in my humble opinion - lack the character, history and sense of community that are so richly abundant in Lebo. And frankly, people have been choosing Mt. Lebanon for the quality of its education for decades and that has nothing to do with the age or condition of the facilities. Clearly, if someone wanted to focus on the those latter factors, we would have been losing the education race for a long time simply because our buildings are so much older. However, history tells us otherwise. As for home values, Mt. Lebanon's residential sales values have increased by 12.5% in the last five years. Truth is, if you want to put your kids on buses, sit on Rt. 19 for hours on end, use the Mall as your central business district, drive your kids everywhere and pay $800/yr to belong to the Community Recreation Center, I suppose USC is for you. I'm not stopping you, but can we please stop making the high school project about keeping up with the Joneses. I want what's best for us.

And lastly, is it possible that when analyzing issues in our community we can seek commentary from someone else? I think the local beat writers have Mr. Lewis on speed dial. Let me say up front that I respect and admire the tenacity and commitment of Mr. Lewis and Mrs Bongiorno. Every community needs watchdogs like these two, and we are lucky to have them. However, personal observations lead me to believe that they do not speak for a large majority of the residents in this community, and they tend to be overly negative. Nevertheless, they tend to get all of the ink because they are the ones who speak up. And like it or not, those who get the ink are perceived to be "in the know" and are perceived to speak for all of us. In this case, I don't think that's true, and I also think that those whose opinions differ from theirs need to speak louder.

July 30, 2009 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Rich W said...

A lot of folks also move to USC because homes have two-car garages AND decent sized kitchens. Try finding both of those in a Mt. Lebo home.

Likewise, folks want to leave USC because all it is is a school district. No jobs. No social center (unless you count school board meetings). No diversity.

Choose your poison.

July 30, 2009 10:51 AM  
Anonymous John Ewing said...

If we see 382 more people leave Mt. Lebanon we will drop from a second-class to a third-class school district under the School Code.

July 30, 2009 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand WPIAL Cutoff for Quad A football ranking is 540 male student enrollment in grades 9, 10 & 11. Could Lebo drop to AAA?
D. Spahr

July 30, 2009 4:50 PM  
Anonymous john Ewing said...

Dirk Taylor, the District’s engineer clearly states in his Report that the high school was designed for double the enrollment we have there now, yet the space in the new/renovated is almost equal to the space for the higher enrollment.

He further states we chopped up large open areas like we want to include in the school now and used them for other purposes; undoubtedly those spaces were needed for the declining enrollment.

How good can the Facilities Committee be if they plan almost as much space for 1900 students as we did for 3800 students?

Mr. Taylor’s Report says the design of the high school is so bad it adds about $20,000,000 to the cost of his alternate design that improves the sports facilities by adding a quality weight room/exercise equipment room to the design at a lesser cost. The fine arts design would improve too.
Mr. Taylor’s Report is a two-page letter and an 11-page letter attached to a swimming pool redesign. The Report is a credit to a Mt. Lebanon education and I congratulate Mr. Taylor on a job well done and on his success in life.

Mr. Madison said he would post it on the Blog. If you would like your own copy send me an email @ jhewing01@aol.com

August 01, 2009 1:36 PM  

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