Above: Oliver High School (left) and Perry High School (right) were toured this week by the NSLC.
This week, representatives from the Northside Leadership Conference’s education committee toured Oliver and Perry high schools to evaluate each facility and draw up an objective report on the condition of the two buildings.
Pittsburgh Public Schools announced in September that it planned to close Oliver High School and send Oliver students to Perry’s building. This month, the school board announced that it is also considering closing Perry and sending Perry’s students to Oliver’s building instead – sparking a debate throughout the Northside regarding the two schools.
"There’s bound to be a wide variety of opinions on the subject," said NSLC Executive Director Mark Fatla, who noted that the NSLC has taken no position on closing Oliver or Perry, but advocates for one comprehensive and successful Northside high school.
The report from committee representatives, Mark Fatla and Mark Masterson, noted that Perry’s building was freshly refurbished over the summer and had all new lavatories, flooring, ceilings, paint and improved lighting.
They reported that Oliver’s building shows heavy wear and a lack of reinvestment and that two thirds of the classrooms were seemingly empty.
“[Oliver] Building is HUGE. Even with combined Perry-Oliver enrollment, building will likely have excess space,” the report said. “Existing CTE spaces are excellent and spacious – Culinary, Cosmetology, JROTC – but enrollment numbers are low (20-40 students per semester).”
They rated Perry’s classroom spaces “excellent” and noted that they included 21 labs that could be transformed into classrooms and space for Oliver’s JROTC and culinary programs, though the cosmetology program would probably remain in Oliver’s building.
The report stated that both schools had HVAC infrastructures that were in good repair, though Perry’s is brand new.
Perry’s ancillary spaces, which include the auditorium, gym, pool, band room and cafeteria to be in “excellent” condition and well-utilized, but they noted the kitchen of Perry’s cafeteria was a bit small.
Oliver’s auditorium is larger, but lacks wings or backstage needed for theater productions. The pool was described as equal to Perry’s, but is currently closed and awaiting repairs.
The report stated that Perry and Oliver’s grounds were fairly similar, with roughly the same amount of parking. Oliver’s athletic fields are in “excellent” condition and adjacent to the school, whereas Perry’s are “inconveniently located some distance from the building,” the report said.
Oliver has an on-site day care with a capacity for eight infants and four toddlers that is funded by a federal grant, whereas Perry has a private daycare across the street.