Sarah Schneider


Sarah Schneider covers education for 90.5 WESA. That means looking at how people learn in Western Pennsylvania. Her reporting examines how local and national decisions impact access to education and policy. She loves being in classrooms talking to students and teachers.

She is also a local fill-in host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Previously, Sarah was a reporting fellow at WESA for two years by way of an Americorps affiliated program, Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience (PULSE). She has interned with newspapers in Illinois, Idaho and Pennsylvania. 

Story ideas are always welcome at

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh voted Thursday to take the next step in converting the Hunt Armory in Shadyside into an indoor ice rink.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools is turning to more progressive methods of discipline, after finding that cut and dry methods, like Zero Tolerance, led to too many suspensions.

Back in the ‘90s, many schools started using those methods as a way to motivate kids to behave.

They put police officers in schools, along with metal detectors. They issued harsh punishments to prevent bigger offenses. 

It became a way of doing things, but opponents say rather than getting students to behave, it was just pushing them out of school. Now administrators shy away from those methods.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Alfred E. Hunt Armory takes up an entire city block of Shadyside. Its original purpose was to house military weapons. It was later a training facility and a community center. It was the venue for Led Zeppelin’s first Pittsburgh show and touted presidential candidates and evangelist Billy Graham.

The more than a century old historic landmark was last used by the 28th infantry of the National Guard until 2013.  

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

The United Way of Allegheny County wants to ensure local children grow up to be successful in adulthood. That’s why they’ve created a new action plan.

The plan, called "United for Children," aims to support the social and emotional needs of the region’s children with a five-step plan, which includes:

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

  Nearly 40 people told the Port Authority Board of Trustees Friday that cuts in service over the years has cut them off from getting where they want to be.

In the past few years the port authority has had to decrease service which it blames on inadequate state funding. Residents in Penn Hills want an extension of the 79 route, Garfield residents want weekend service through the neighborhood and students and staff at the Community College of Allegheny County want a route taking them closer to the north campus.

Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

  The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council is launching a website they hope will be the go-to source to find all arts and cultural events in the city.

Arts organizations can post gallery openings, theater and dance performances and other cultural events to the new site – Artsburgh. Users can scroll through the calendar or create a profile to distinguish what types of events are most important to them.

Jacob Bøtter / Flickr

There are more job openings in Pittsburgh than there are people with the matching skill sets, according to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

Three technologists worked with city departments for almost a year to reform the way the city buys goods and services like fire trucks and office supplies – a process known as procurement.

Laura Meixell, analytics and strategy manager for the city's open data program, said there used to be a page buried in the city’s website where businesses could find contract openings.

The requests weren't categorized, and vendors would have to check back if there was a new post, she said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Drivers can now reach for their smartphones to pay for city parking rather than coins or credit cards.

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority launched a mobile payment option Thursday. Users download the Go Mobile PGH app on their smartphone and register their license plate and credit card numbers. Drivers enter the zone number found on a sign located at the nearest kiosk and how long they want to park there. Then the countdown on their phone begins.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The National Aviary on the North Side has received another five years of accreditation from the National Association of Zoos & Aquariums for its high standards of care and conservation of wildlife.

The aviary has been accredited from the organization for the last 30 years. The process took about a year and included a review of fiscal management, animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education and safety.

Asylum Projects

Defendants ordered to receive treatment before they can stand trial are waiting up to a year to be admitted at one of the two state hospitals. 

A class-action lawsuit against the commonwealth from the American Civil Liberties Union's Pennsylvania office alleges that wait time is unconstitutional.

Torrance State Hospital near Pittsburgh and Norristown State Hospital near Philadelphia are perpetually full, often requiring defendants deemed unfit to stand trial sit in jail until vacancies arise.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

  Dozens of health care workers and advocates testified Thursday before the city’s Wage Committee urging it to increase pay for service workers at area hospitals.

The committee was formed by City Council as part of the A City For All initiative to, “protect, preserve and expand affordability and livability for low and moderate income residents in the city of Pittsburgh, to establish a Wage Committee that investigates the wages paid to service workers.”

Pat Pilon / Flickr

  Public utility companies cannot charge customers a fee to receive a paper utility bill in the mail, the Public Utility Commission decided Thursday.

The five-member commission unanimously approved a motion concluding the expense of providing a paper bill to customers is included in operating expenses of the utility and charging a fee is not consistent with commission regulations, long-standing precedent or established practices of Pennsylvania Public Utilities.

Lennart Tange / Flickr

A 20-member task force of health and research professionals released a report last week on Lyme and related tick-borne diseases to help guide the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the General Assembly's strategy in addressing the growing issue. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

The city’s financial oversight board has authorized the release of the remaining $5.8 million in 2014 gaming funds it has been withholding – with a few stipulations.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

In an urban forest, trees don’t just provide aesthetics, they prevent river overflow and filter pollution.

Since the early 2000’s, tens of millions of North American ash trees have been killed from a non-native insect, the emerald ash borer, that arrived via shipping pallets in Michigan. The eastern Asia beetle has killed thousands of Pennsylvania trees and nearly 50 in Pittsburgh’s Riverview Park.  

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

Pittsburgh officials are cutting out the middle man in its employee health care coverage, opting instead to pay for claims directly instead of contracting external insurance carriers.

The city was self-insured until 2007. Sam Ashbaugh, the city’s director of the office of management and budget, said switching back comes with some risk, so Pittsburgh will purchase stop-loss coverage for high-cost claims.

It's like taking insurance out on yourself, he said.

Russell Tucker / Flickr

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit hosted 10 educators from Northern Ireland on Monday to discuss best practices for special education.

Administrators with the AIU, a service provider for 42 Allegheny County school districts, met with principals, speech therapists and teachers from the Belfast area. The educators have been hosts to students in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Study Abroad in Ireland program.

Senator Bob Casey

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) is calling for a legislative fix to prevent monthly premium cost increases for Medicare beneficiaries.

The Medicare Trustees Report predicts 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries will see a more than 50 percent increase to their monthly premium in 2016, from $104 to $159 for the part of their plan that covers lab tests, surgeries, doctor visits and medical supplies. 

David Brossard / Flickr

An effort launched by the Green Building Alliance in 2012 to lower the environmental impact of buildings in Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland has been recognized by the International Downtown Association for revitalizing a business district.  

The 2030 District effort to cut energy consumption, water use and transportation emissions in half by 2030 is one of just four programs nationwide to receive the award this year.

Luis Villa del Campo / Flickr

It’s an evolving debate in healthcare academia; is it a conflict of interest to have a health care instructor also serve in a leadership role at a for-profit healthcare institution?

In a follow up study to one that looked at the overlap of those in leadership roles for pharmaceutical companies and those employed by academic centers, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have now focused on those in leadership roles with publicly traded healthcare companies who are also employed by non-profit academic institutions.

The analysis found that one in 10 American for-profit health care company board positions are held by an individual with an academic affiliation.

Jeffery Smith / Flickr

The volume and complexity of health research can make it difficult for legislators to keep up.

Larry Stern, a retired health care executive, says with the growing number of interest and advocacy groups, it’s difficult to determine positions of those groups based on evidence from those based on belief.

Point Park University

Point Park University and the United Steelworkers union announced Wednesday they have reached a tentative agreement on a contract representing more than 300 part-time instructors.

Simon Dyjas / Karma Agency

The symptoms are subtle and common -- abdominal bloating, a feeling of fullness and the urge to urinate more frequently than normal.

todo / flickr

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is asking residents to help develop a plan to cut carbon pollution in the state.

The EPA finalized the Clean Power Plan on Aug. 3. It’s the first set of national standards to limit carbon emissions from power plants, the largest source of emissions in the U.S.

The plan sets to reduce 2005 emission levels nationally by 32 percent by 2030.

Each state will have to write an implementation plan with. The first listening session in Allegheny County is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 21 on Carnegie Mellon University’s campus.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

The Midwife Center in the Strip District expects 470 babies will be born at the center this year, almost double the births five years ago.

Executive Director Christine Haas said this increase is reflected nationally as women want more options and a holistic approach to pregnancy.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

One school of thought in adapting to a new generation of learners is to take students out of traditional classrooms where desks point toward an instructor.

To do that, educators create a maker space where students can explore and question content.

Libraries use maker spaces, the Carnegie Science Center has a new digital fabrication lab, and Mayor Bill Peduto held a roundtable discussion on the importance of them. Entrepreneurs use them to collaborate and have access to materials they otherwise couldn’t afford on their own.

A University of Pittsburgh study found that obese women are twice as likely to have a stillborn baby as women with healthier body mass indices.

Lisa Bodnar, associate professor of epidemiology, said many studies have shown the increase risk of stillbirth among women who begin a pregnancy while obese, but she wanted to understand why that happened and what could prevent it.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

Standing on a new dek hockey rink under the Bloomfield Bridge in front of a line of Pittsburgh police officers, Mayor Bill Peduto dedicated the field to the late officer Paul Sciullo II.

Sciullo was one of three officers shot and killed in a 2009 Stanton Heights ambush. That year the baseball field under the bridge was named after the officer.

courtesy A+ Schools

Rigorous course offerings and positive reinforcement for hard work creates a more healthy, successful school environment, according to Amy Scott, director of research and data analysis for A+ Schools.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools advocacy group released a report this week detailing its findings of what leads to a positive school climate. Scott said the group has trained volunteers to interview school staff members who remain anonymous since 2009. The interview data is compiled and a report released yearly.