Sarah Schneider

Reporter

Sarah Schneider covers all things education in the Pittsburgh region - from early childhood initiatives to following changes in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system to after school and adult education. An Illinois native, Sarah came to WESA as a PULSE (Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience Fellow) fellow. She worked for two years on community initiatives and the Life of Learning Series before becoming a staff reporter. 

Previously Sarah interned at newspapers in Pittsburgh, Idaho and Illinois. When not reporting and hosting you can find her walking dogs at an animal shelter, crocheting and taking any unique class she can. 

Education-related story ideas are always welcome at sschneider@wesa.fm.

United Way organizations serving Allegheny, Westmoreland, Fayette and Armstrong counties have combined efforts as the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Bob Nelkin, formerly the director of the Allegheny branch and now President and CEO of the larger operation, said the change was rapid after discussions of combining branch strengths began in June.

As designated up-and-coming neighborhoods, Homewood and Sharpsburg have been added to the Allegheny Conference’s Strengthening Communities Partnership program.

The program pools private sector resources to invest in local community growth and also leverages state tax credits as incentive.

A Pittsburgh federal grand jury has indicted a man living in Venezuela on charges of filing fraudulent tax returns using stolen identities from hundreds of UPMC employees.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Western Pennsylvania, David Hickton, said Friday he believes the indictment will frustrate the hacking conspiracy group. Yoandy Perez Llanes, 31, has been charged with 21 counts of money laundering, conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Supporters of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants say the plan will protect the environment and eventually save energy consumers money. Opponents say the harsh mandates would increase utility bills and shut down power producers.

The EPA announced the plan last summer to cut nationwide carbon pollution by 30 percent by 2030. The agency says power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions which must be limited as arsenic and mercury emissions are at power-plants.

Often times patients have to revisit the hospital after being discharged as part of scheduled care, but sometimes readmissions are caused by a failure of the system.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council – or PHC4 – recently released a report looking at preventable readmission rates statewide for patients with four conditions that often lead to hospitalization.

State Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) wants to encourage private investment in waterfront property by pushing for his proposed senate bill that would establish a Waterfront Development Tax Credit.

The senator said Pennsylvania’s greatest resources are the many lakes, rivers and creeks that hold a place in state and national history as well as provide recreational opportunities. However, areas along these resources need substantial investment to redevelop because of obstacles such as contamination and abandoned industrial sites.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File

Gov. Tom Wolf argued last week that taxing Pennsylvania’s booming natural gas industry could help compensate for an anticipated $1 billion structural budget deficit in 2016.

His budget includes a state severance tax of 5 percent on extractions based on the value of gas at the well head and a charge of 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet extracted. The commonwealth produced 3.23 trillion cubic feet in 2013.

Mayor Bill Peduto has appointed Grant Ervin as the city’s Chief Resilience Officer, a position funded through a Rockefeller Foundation grant.

His first task: developing a plan to enable the city to survive, adapt and grow no matter the challenge it will face.

Ervin has served as the city’s Sustainability Manager since 2014. He will now transition into working with stakeholders across the city to determine the key threats facing the city, then work to draft a resilience strategy with the help of the other 99 Chief Resilience Officers in the world.

Service and technical workers at Allegheny General Hospital voted Wednesday to unionize with more than 80 percent of the 1,200 workers voting in approval.

The employees, including radiology and lab technicians, nursing assistants, secretaries and food service workers joined the state’s largest health care union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Area representatives are supporting a bill that would waive background check fees for paid and volunteer firefighters and emergency response personnel.  

When an out-of-state customer at County Councilman John Palmiere's Brentwood barbershop commented on the beauty of Allegheny County being covered in litter, he decided to go for a drive.

Palmiere said he quickly realized she was right.

“You see it all the time, and you don’t see it," he said. "So I just took a ride around one evening after she said that and she’s right. The place is just … we have so much debris and litter.”

Fourteen hours after the polls closed and voters decided Bellevue would no longer be ‘dry,’ the first liquor license application was submitted in more than 80 years.

Specialty Group, a liquor license broker and lender for restaurants and bars, submitted the application on behalf of Grille 565 on Lincoln Avenue. Ned Sokoloff, the company’s president and CEO, said the Liquor Control Board received the application by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

City Controller Michael Lamb will serve as Pittsburgh’s fiscal watchdog another four years after Tuesday's 2-1 defeat over primary challenger and City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak.

Lamb, 52, will run unopposed in November for his third consecutive term, effectively ensuring a win. The Mt. Washington resident said his biggest priority for the next term is to provide an objective view of the city.

The Pittsburgh Presbytery on Thursday narrowly voted to ratify the church’s national constitution to allow pastors to conduct and churches to host same-sex marriages.

The measure proposed last fall by the church’s General Assembly received enough approval from the 171 presbyteries throughout the country to ratify the constitution in March, but not all had voted before the May 15 deadline. Clergy and lay representatives voted 122-110 in favor with three abstaining.

The Pennsylvania House unanimously approved legislation to allow students receiving welfare benefits to enroll in an academic support program for up to two years while completing an associate's or technical education.

Under House Bill 934, eligible students pursuing occupations deemed high priority by the state – maintenance and repair workers, nursing aides, sales representatives and others – can count class and study hours toward the required number of work hours needed to obtain monthly Temporary Cash Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) assistance.

Nearly 1,450 new residents moved Downtown since 2010, according to a report released through the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership on Thursday.

Based on 2010 census data, the 4th annual State of Downtown report shows more people are opting to live, work and play in and around the Golden Triangle. Residential and office occupancy rates are both up, with higher attendance to cultural events and more options for dining and retail.

The report found 12,604 residents lived in the area in 2014, up 261 since the year prior.

Bike Pittsburgh / Flikr

Bike commuters will take to the streets en masse Friday for the city's 14th Bike to Work Day.

Pop-up commuter cafés will be located throughout the city for cyclists to have coffee and meet other cyclists while grabbing swag bags stuffed with prizes and coupons.

Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike Pittsburgh, a bike and pedestrian advocacy group, said the event is an easy way for beginners to get started.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Before she brought the students into the main area of Willy Tee’s Barbershop in Homewood to listen to a story, Cynthia Battle asked parents and police officers what their favorite childhood book was.

Battle, a community outreach specialist for the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), said she loved "The Pancake Man."

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Applying for college seemed like the next logical step for Senque Little-Poole. The Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy senior said his educational experience has been a push to get a better grade, a better Grade Point Average and to get accepted into a good college.

Regular vocabulary and comprehension programming will be available to Homewood children and families through a $1.5 million two-year grant from PNC’s Grow Up Great initiative.

The six partners in the initiative – Carnegie Science Center, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy – tested the program this past fall at various Homewood locations. The Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children has worked in Homewood for several years providing opportunities for early education and development. PAEYC’s Early Learning Hub in Homewood was one of the pilot locations for Buzzwords.

Nearly $900,000 in grant funding has been pledged to implement Pittsburgh Public School’s plan to transition a Bloomfield elementary school into a partial STEAM magnet.

The school board voted to develop Woolslair PreK-5, the district’s smallest school with 110 students, into a partial science, technology, engineering, arts and math – or STEAM – magnet school in September after initial plans to close the school. The plan also includes developing curriculum at three other STEAM magnets, Lincoln prek-5, Schiller 6-8 and Perry High School. The board will vote to accept the grants at the April 22 legislative meeting.

Area educators gathered Monday to discuss best practices in promoting student achievement in public education at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s first Learning Together conference.

The day-long conference featured 50 round-table discussions and sessions showcasing what regional educators do to increase achievement in schools.

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit is one of 29 units in Pennsylvania. It provides specialized education services to the 42 suburban Allegheny county school districts.

In an attempt to draw attention to local businesses, Sustainable Pittsburgh coordinates days for “mobs” of consumers to be intentional with purchases and support stores committed to green practice and sustainability.

Sahar Arbab, a Green Cities Sustainability Corps fellow with Sustainable Pittsburgh, organized the most recent “Cash Mob” this past November in Ambridge. Fifteen businesses were involved in the day-long shopping spree. The organization is offering an opportunity for communities to apply to host a cash mob in June. 

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack is in Washington, D.C. Friday attending his first meeting as co-chair of the Military Affairs Committee of the National Lieutenant Governor’s Association.

Stack was asked to accept the appointment last month by NLGA chair Nancy Wyman, the lieutenant governor of Connecticut. Not only is this Stack’s first appearance as co-chair, but also his first meeting since being sworn in January.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

It’s a conversation heard around countless dinner tables or on the way home. What did you do at school today? The answer most often is nothing or "I don’t know" or "I played."

That one-sided conversation is common in early education students. Parents can try to talk to teachers during the shuffle of picking up their child, but that’s usually only slightly more productive.

Gateway to the Arts

Early childhood learners outperform their peers when they are taught with an arts-integrated background, according to an independent study of a model used in 11 Pittsburgh area schools.

Forty-three percent of Pittsburgh public high school students were chronically absent during the 2013-14 academic year.

More than 250 education stakeholders are expected to attend today’s School Attendance Matters Conference hosted by the United Way of Allegheny County and several other sponsors to discuss ways to change the trend.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Parents, educators, students and political representatives met for two hours Saturday to discuss reducing suspensions in school and create a climate that doesn’t push students out of school.  

The Education Law Center of Pittsburgh and Great Public Schools led a workshop-style conversation at the Kingsley Center in East Liberty titled, “educate don’t incarcerate,” a nod to the notion that disciplining students by pushing them out of school creates a pipeline to future incarceration.

Mark Abramowitz / Opera Theater of Pittsburgh

In an attempt to both re-brand what opera can offer and what it can teach, the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh is developing an opera it has dubbed an, Eco-Opera.

“This whole notion that opera, sometimes is branded as an elitist art form, and very often the subject matter, and the medium, look back into old European works and there’s a strong sense of visiting a sort of musical theatrical museum when you go to the opera. That’s not the way we want it to be,” said the company’s artistic and general director, Jonathan Eaton.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A high school history teacher at Ellis School in Shadyside is showing his 11th grade students the evolution of racial attitudes in America by exploring how common items have had different meanings for black and white people.

Students speak in the first person and personify one item a week including a typewriter, bus ticket, acoustic guitar, police baton and a flapper dress.

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