Government
7:28 am
Tue November 1, 2011

Budget Issues Dominate Race for Pittsburgh Public Schools Board District 6

The race for the District 6 seat on the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education pits the incumbent against a teacher with 16 years' experience in the classroom. Current board president, Sherry Hazuda, won the Democratic nomination. She was first elected to the board in 2007, and elected president in December. She said she wants to finish the job she's started.

"We have accomplished a lot in the last four years since I've been on the board, but there's a lot more that we need to do. This is a really challenging time for us, but I think we're heading in the right direction, and I would just like to see through all of the things we've started," she said.

Her opponent is Lisa Jones, a chemistry teacher from Pittsburgh's Carrick High School. She is running as a Republican. She said, in her view, the board is moving the district in the wrong direction.

"With the financial mess created by the current board and all the changes that they're making by closing schools, consolidating schools, furloughing teachers, selling school property now," she said.

She said those actions haven't been thought through.

Budget Issues

The board is faced with cutting a $38.2 million deficit projected for 2012. One thing both of the candidates seem to agree on is that the budget will be the main priority going forward. Hazuda said, if re-elected, she'd have two main priorities.

"One is fiscal sustainability. We aren't where we need to be. We still have a huge budget gap, and we have to make sure our cutbacks are thoughtful cutbacks so we do educate our children. The second thing right before us is school closures, which is tied into sustainability. We have to make sure we do that right," said Hazuda.

Jones said the first thing she'd do if elected is call for an independent financial audit and school policy audit.

"To see where the money has gone, what is left, to get an idea of the finances, then from there make decisions on where we can make cuts that won't impact the classroom," said Jones.

Jones holds a Master's of Education from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master's in Engineering from West Virginia University.

Hazuda holds a Master's of Divinity from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

The West End, Mt. Washington, Duquesne Heights, Brookline, Banksville, Beechwood, East Carnegie, and Oakwood comprise District 6.