Category Archives: General Info

Pasquerilla Named Bethel Park Superintendent

The Joe Pasquerilla era will soon end at Northgate. The fourth year superintendent was named the next superintendent of the Bethel Park School District at a special board meeting last night.

The coming months will be very important to and very busy for Northgate as the district will look to identify an interim candidate as they begin their search for their next superintendent.

2015 NHS Board Reorganization and Meeting Dates

Below are the 2015 committee assignments and meeting dates. Please note that as of this posting this information is correct to the best of my knowledge however, it is possible that this information could change at some point in the future and if so, it may not get updated on this blog.

Meeting Dates:
(note that the Athletic Committee meeting time is different from last year)


Committee Assignments:


Looking for Your Input

Attention parents,

The Northgate School District administration and school board would like your feedback. There is a parent survey posted on the school district website. The link to the survey is about half way down the page. There is as least one question pertaining to the possibility of refactoring the elementary schools so that one building is responsible for the earlier elementary grades and the other building is responsible for the later elementary grades. Please consider taking the survey and giving us your opnions.

Grants for 2014-2015

From time to time the subject of grants comes up and people want to know for which grants Northgate applies. In the June committee meeting, the board approved the submission of the following grants:

  • Title I
  • Title IIA
  • Title III
  • Accountability Block Grant
  • IDEA
  • Keystones to Opportunity Grant
  • Select Teacher Grants
  • Pre-K
  • Safe Schools
  • Make Shop Grant

Northgate School District: May Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything and so I thought now was a good time to take a few minutes and give an update on what I think are the important issues facing the school district.


The final budget is due in June. It’s been three years since taxes were increased and it looks like there will be a tax increase this year. While noone wants to increase taxes, it appears to be a necessary evil at this time. If taxes were not increased, then according to the 2014-04-28-General Fund Budget Presentation presented at the budget forum a few weeks ago, the General Fund would be almost wiped out by the end of next school year. That may not be completely accurate as the budget is generally conservative and our expenses will most likely be less than what gets budgeted, but it is still a cause for concern. There are many factors that influence the budget, but the biggest problems continue to be increasing pension costs and insufficient state funding. If the current proposed final budget passes as it stands now, taxes will increase a little over 1 mil. To put it into perspective, if your house is valued at $100,000, your property taxes are likely to increase a little over $100.

Class Size

I feel that class size is an issue, particularly in the elementary schools. Many of us kindergarten parents successfully lobbied for a fifth kindergarten class last year, citing safety and educational concerns with class sizes in the high 20’s. For the 2014-2015 school year, the school board has made the decision to go back to four kindergarten classes, and keep first grade at four classes. This means that next year first grade will see a dramatic increase in class sizes. As of last week, there are 108 students going into first grade, 55 at Bellevue and 53 at Avalon, meaning one can expect class sizes of 28 and 27 at Bellevue and 27 and 26 at Avalon. As I understand it, first grade typically grows in number from the previous year’s kindergarten, so those numbers may grow slightly. I feel that these class sizes are significantly too high, and that first grade should not have some of the largest class sizes in the district. Unfortunately with the budget looking the way it does, I don’t see the board approving adding an additional teacher (unless the parents voice there concerns stronger and louder than last time…and even so it would be tough).

Elementary School Musical Chairs

At the beginning of last year, there were several kindergarten students who lived in Bellevue but were told they needed to attend Avalon (due to class size). Weeks into the school year, those same students where moved back to Bellevue when a kindergarten class was added. Recently, some of the same students were notified that they must attend Avalon next year. Shuffling students back and forth between elementary schools isn’t good for anyone and I feel horrible when I hear parents talk about how this affects their kids. One solution to this problem is to adequately staff the schools so that class sizes aren’t maxed out, but that is not going to be the case for next year’s first grade class. I feel that if we are going to continue to face these challenges for the foreseeable future, then we need to start looking at moving away from two separate elementary schools, and splitting our two elementary buildings where one is for K-2 students and the other is 3-6. This isn’t something that is possible for the 2014-2015 school year, but I think we need to look at getting the ball rolling to make it happen for 2015-2016. There will be challenges with regards to implementation, but I feel the benefits far outweigh costs. I’m not going into details at the moment because there aren’t any. This is an idea that has been tossed around from time to time, and I think it is something we need to move on.

May 2014 Primary Election

The biggest issues we face (in my opinion) all stem from our budget. Pension costs and lack of state funding are hurting Northgate just as they are hurting every other district in Pennsylvania. At the Stand Up For Education event that I attended, the state legislators (that showed up) acknowledged these issues but all agreed that nothing would happen in the near future to help remedy them. We need people in office that care about education and have a good understanding of the issues. Being an election year, we have an opportunity to put someone in office that will fight to solve issues that are threatening to destroy our schools. To put it bluntly, if you care about education then VOTE FOR TOM MICHALOW for state representative. Not only is he a teacher in the district but he has actively served his community and he has a deep understanding of the issues affecting our schools.

Board Breakdown

Below is a list of Northgate School Board members, their email addresses, and the committees to which they belong. I was told it has been past practice to have new board members sit on the Finance committee for 6 months before moving to their actual committee. Therefore, Finance members Bryan Johnston and Amy Joy Robinson will switch with Student Affairs members Jennifer McWilliams and Lisa Saylor half way through the year. This list does not include ad-hoc committees that may be formed throughout the year on an as-needed basis, for purposes such as contract negotiations or superintendent review.

Mr. Daniel O’Keefe
Committees: PSBA Liason, Legislative

Dr. Timothy Makatura
Vice President
Committees: Building and Grounds, Finance, Food Service, Personnel, Transportation

Mr. Gary Paladin
Committees: Finance, Beattie, Communications, Intergovernmental

Mrs. Brigitte Jackson
Committees: Building and Grounds, Athletic, Chamber of Commerce Rep, Intergovernmental

Mr. Bryan Johnston
Committees: Finance, Food Service, Transportation, Technology

Mrs. Jennifer McWilliams
Committees: Student Affairs, Athletic, Personnel, Transportation

Mrs. Amy Joy Robinson
Committees: Finance, Athletic, Communications, Technology

Mrs. Lisa Saylor
Committees: Student Affairs, Beattie, Fine Arts, Communications

Dr. Shannon Smithey
Committees: Student Affairs, Food Service, Personnel