Colfax v. Minadeo--opinions please! (Pittsburgh: apartment, renting, how much)
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Hi, I'm about to move to Pittsburgh and will be renting in the Squirrel Hill area for a year, then buying, probably in the same area. Most of our options feed to Colfax or Minadeo. If you have experience with either of these schools, positive or negative, I want to hear!! My kids are 5 (entering K) and 8 (entering 3d grade).
They're both good schools. You can't really go wrong with either: they both have active parent communities, good teachers, and good principals. Both are diverse. Both are safe and have relatively few discipline problems. Both have art and music.
Our daughter just finished kindergarten at Minadeo. Fine traditional K-5 elementary school. I think the highest test scores in the city. Lots of kids go into the gifted program after testing in 2nd grade. This has been a highly regarded school for years and should continue be for the short to medium term future. (Long term? Who knows what the future holds for any big-city public school system in this country?) Kids used to go from Minadeo to Reizenstein, a large and apparently problematic middle school; but Reizenstein was closed last summer and now Minadeo feeds to Sterrett, a magnet middle school (6-8) with a good reputation. Minadeo is the only feeder to Sterrret; all the other kids there are in the magnet program.
We have friends with kids at Colfax and we looked at Colfax also. K-8 and probably a few more discipline problems than Minadeo as a result (but this is only anecdotal and thus taken with a grain of salt). Dynamic principal who got Spanish instruction in the school a few years ago, thus bringing many parents in the feeder pattern who were looking at the foreign-language magnets back to the school. (Not immersion, but better than nothing until 6th grade. Minadeo did not have any foreign language until now but is most likely going to have some Spanish next year also--check with the principal there to be sure.)
Colfax became an "accelerated learning academy" last year. This is a plus or a minus depending on your family's needs/preferences. It means a longer school day and a shorter summer vacation. Some parents are pleased with the extra instruction time; others are displeased that the kids (especially the littler ones) have a long day; I have also heard some complaints that the new curriculum doesn't do much for the brighter kids.
Colfax also has a pool so the kids have swimming from 3rd grade up as part of PE.
Both schools are popular and--as a result of the downsizing of the district last summer--are both packed to the gills. This has a downside--crowd control in the hallways is an issue at both schools--but also an upside--more money in the schools' budgets. Both schools had a challenge last year in incorporating large groups of older students who had been at other (less well performing) schools in previous years. Presumably that becomes less of an issue one year later. (This might have been a little bigger problem at Colfax because apparently some 7th and 8th graders resented "going back" to what they perceived as an elementary school when Reizenstein closed.)
Both schools feed to Allderdice H.S. which has a good reputation and is arguably one of the best non-magnet, non-exam urban public high schools in the country.
So how to choose? Honestly, I would choose a house/apartment anywhere in Squirrel Hill and not worry which feeder pattern I were in. But if you feel strongly about K-8 in one school or about Spanish (even if Minadeo gets the Spanish teacher, it will probably be 1 period a week at Minadeo vs. 2-3 periods at Colfax) or you feel your kid(s) really need the longer school day or you think swimming is really important, head for Colfax. If you like the idea of K-5 and then a separate middle school and your main criteria is test scores and/or you want the extra week of summer vacation, head for Minadeo.
My son started at Minadeo this yr too, he is now going into 3rd grade. I didn't know Colfax had a pool!
I have met some partents who have kids that go to Colfax and they seem happy with it. We chose Mineado because the longer day at Colfax seemed like a lot for our son to adjust to. Mineado also automatically feeds into Sterritt (Sp?) Middle School which has a great reputation.
Was just browsing the forum & though I'd give feedback on the choice we made to anyone who may find this thread.
Our kids spent one year at Minadeo; it was an unmitigated NIGHTMARE for my 3d grader, and only a slightly better, but not great, experience for my kindergartner.
Where do I begin? Well, with the principal, who is completely out of touch with the school, and sets a tone of rudeness and complete disrespect to teachers and kids (visit some morning during the PA announcements and you'll get a taste of it), which leads to a toxic & punitive atmosphere throughout the school. Teachers yelling at kids in the hall (example: on the SECOND DAY of school, when I was waiting outside the classroom while my Kindergartner was evaluated by her new teacher, I witnessed the other Kindergarten teacher humiliating a first grade boy in front of the rest of his classmates by yelling at him and ordering him to spend time in her room as punishment because "you don't know how to act like a first grader so you have to come back and sit in the kindergarten room!"); teachers spending 80-90% of the day on discipline; the vice-principal badgering and berating children at the top of her lungs in her office (I actually witnessed a little girl walk out of the office in the middle of the VP's rant and walk out the door of the school, with the VP following behind, ineffectually screeching "you can't just walk away from me like that, where do you think you're going? etc" and my thought was that the girl was having a perfectly reasonable response to the adult's onslaught of insults and hectoring--I would've walked away too!); the constant use of rewards to incentivize good behavior which punished kids who were struggling to meet expectations (ie a "one strike and you don't get the reward" policy)--I could go on and on and on. Not only are the kids subjected to unremitting verbal abuse from the teachers and staff, they also (unsurprisingly) dish it out to each other. My third grader came home asking questions about the meaning of sexual language that should not have been coming from the mouth of an 8-year old, and with stories of bullying and abuse on the playground that were disturbing.
Three other families I know pulled their kids from the school; we decided to move out of the district after the experience. I don't know what the situation is at Colfax, but if you are moving to Pittsburgh, don't listen to "old timers" tell you about the quality of Minadeo; it used to be a fine school, apparently, but it's gone way downhill and until it gets different leadership and a real change in philosophy it's a place to avoid.
... Not only are the kids subjected to unremitting verbal abuse from the teachers and staff, they also (unsurprisingly) dish it out to each other. My third grader came home asking questions about the meaning of sexual language that should not have been coming from the mouth of an 8-year old, and with stories of bullying and abuse on the playground that were disturbing.
Three other families I know pulled their kids from the school; we decided to move out of the district after the experience. I don't know what the situation is at Colfax,
For what it is worth, we are on our second year at Colfax, and we have not had any issues with verbal abuse from teachers/staff or bullying/abuse on the playground.
The issues we have had with Colfax have been instructional rather than behavioral (our son needed to be better challenged in some areas). We had a series of meetings with the principal and our son's teacher where they worked to make changes to better meet our son's needs. This has helped, and there was no yelling involved...
For what it's worth--I posted above a year and a half ago-drwka's experience with the school does not match what I have seen (or heard) in and around the halls of Minadeo over the last few years--after near-daily visits for 2.5 years. Nor does it tally with the reports I have had from my daughter or from other parents.
I am not saying that drkwa is not accurately reporting his or her impressions and I am sorry that this family had a bad experience at Minadeo. (I feel especially badly if my positive post helped sway them to come to Minadeo.) (But perhaps some of it is exaggerated: "unremitting verbal abuse"?) I'm sorry that your third grader heard inappropriate sexual language--I assume you mean from other students--but I can imagine that this could take place in any school anywhere in this day and age (unfortunately).
If your child was being bullied, that's another matter, and should certainly be raised with the teacher and the principal. What you don't mention, drkwa, however, is whether you did bring these concerns to the attention of the principal or to the very active Parent-Staff-Community Committee. Did you attend meetings of the PSCC to raise these concerns? One of Minadeo's strengths is a very active parent community and--contrary to drkwa's experience--I have found the principal to pretty responsive to the concerns raised at the parent meetings (the PSCC and the PTO).
For example, the incentive policy for good behavior has been extensively discussed at those PSCC meetings. And it's not exactly "one-strike and you're out"--the reward field trips are for students with no "needs improvement" on the "effort" grade part of the quarterly report cards. To go from "satisfactory" to "needs improvement" requires several "strikes" as far as I understand the policy. And last year the number of students missing the reward trips dropped considerably from each marking period to the next.
I will agree that the vice principal was unnecessarily abrasive, but I will note that she has retired.
PS I'm curious to know where you moved. Is the grass really greener in _____?
Never mind about the PS. I see you answer my question on another thread.
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