PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) -- The Pittsburgh Public School District has approved a cross-district partnership with the Wilkinsburg School District that will send middle and high school students to Westinghouse Academy next school year.
The Wilkinsburg School Board unanimously approved the plan on Tuesday night, and the Pittsburgh Public School Board voted Wednesday evening.
The debate among board members lasted for about an hour and a half. Then, the vote passed 7 to 2.
In a press release, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane said, "We want to thank both School Boards for their decision to support a cross-district partnership that serves both districts well and provides a better educational program for Wilkinsburg's seventh through twelfth grade students. Tonight's vote provides the approval for both districts to work collaboratively to execute a thoughtful and deliberate transition plan that will allow multiple opportunities for board, family and community input."
Though he voted for the plan, school board member Mark Brentley was the loudest critic.
He said, "We're supposed to make things even more transparent, but it's not transparent."
Dr. Regina Holly, also on the board, said, "We are opening up our doors to embrace somebody else's child. So, I'm happy to see that."
Wilkinsburg is making the move because low enrollment has made it difficult to offer a wide variety of classes and extracurricular activities, and because the middle/high school built in 1910 was last expanded in 1940 and needs repairs.
Instead, Wilkinsburg wants to send the students to Pittsburgh Westinghouse Academy, which expects only 435 Pittsburgh students to be enrolled there in grades six through 12 next fall.
Wilkinsburg would pay Pittsburgh $8,000 per student next year and $9,600 to educate each student every year thereafter.
After the vote Wednesday night, Pittsburgh School Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane told KDKA-TV's Ralph Iannotti, "Our effort was to make sure this was tax neutral for Pittsburgh. This is not Pittsburgh subsidizing Wilkinsburg students. Wilkinsburg is paying for their own transportation and tuition."
Wilkinsburg elementary school-age students will remain in the Wilkinsburg School District.
Some parents remain unhappy about about the move though.
At the Wilkinsburg School Board meeting Tuesday, one man asked, "What security arrangements have been made? We've had trouble between Homewood students and Wilkinsburg students in the past."
But Board President Ed Donovan says they will address student safety during the transition.
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