PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Big changes are being proposed for the Woodland Hills School District.

“Woodland Hills was the result of forced consolidation,” said Superintendent Alan Johnson. “We want this to be a new consolidation, but not a forced one. It’s one we choose to make.”

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The superintendent is referring to the 1981 federal court ordered desegregation that formed the district.

This plan though is based on educational priorities, he says; but is also shaped by a student body that declined from 6,000 in the year 2000 to about 3,800 now. And those choices will be challenging.

Three elementary schools close.

Dickson in Swissvale, Shaffer in Churchill and Fairless in North Braddock. The Fairless building would house early learning and the administrative offices.

Class structure would change, too.

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K-3 would be housed at elementary buildings. The current junior high would become a 4-6 building, and the senior high would include grades 7-12.

“Yes, that is an important concern,” says Johnson. “The high school building actually lends itself to us being able to set up and completely segregate seventh grade so that we would be able to control the movement of those students.”

Earlier in the year, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman was concerned new assignment patterns might mean re-segregation. The district says that won’t happen.

“They’re not going to request that our children walk to school and they’re not going to create a hyper-concentrated pocket of poverty among students like they originally floated,” says Fetterman. “But we certainly want to keep close tabs on this.”

Fetterman says the Propel School model is something Woodland Hills should strive to emulate.

The plan will be subject to a number of public hearings and the administration hopes the board will approve the plan in January, and that a new plan will be in place for the next school year.

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