Government
7:00 am
Thu November 3, 2011

Budget Versus Academic Standards in School Board District 2 Election

The candidates for Pittsburgh Public Schools Board District 2 differ on their main priority. For incumbent Dara Ware Allen, who won the Republican nomination, the budget is a top priority. She said that trimming the budget will entail closing some schools.

"And looking at administration, already some cuts have come forward, painful, there will be more in that area that will still be coming. A third area is the capital budget and capital projects, suspending those," said Allen.

Opponent Regina B. Holley, who won the Democratic nomination, sees things a little differently.

"I know that there is a major budget crunch, but I want to make sure that the budget does not translate into having sub-standard educational opportunities for our students," said Holley.

Holley is a former principal for Lincoln Elementary School. She holds a doctorate of curriculum and supervision from the University of Pittsburgh, and is a Title I evaluator for the State Department of Education. She coordinates several chapters of Future Teachers of America. She said that if school closures have to be part of a future plan, they need to be better planned. She pointed to previous closures, that she said have been less than helpful for the district.

"One of them was Schenley, and now we're selling that building for $2 million when we spent $18 million putting in new facilities within that school. I really have a hard time understanding why some of these things were done, and so does the public," she said.

Allen said that in addition to needed cuts, the board will likely have to look into other funding sources, such as community partnerships.

"The district understands and recognizes that this is an area for growth. We're going to have to be much more thoughtful and creative with after-school providers who compliment what is going on at the high school level," she said.

Allen has served on the school board since 2009. She has a doctorate in workforce education and development from Penn State. She is executive director of Youthworks, an organization focused on youth employment.

District 2 includes Morningside, the Strip District, Bloomfield, Highland Park, Polish Hill, and Stanton Heights.