One thing that sets the incumbent District 8 school board candidate apart from the other incumbents is his belief that the school board is moving in the wrong direction. Mark A. Brentley Sr. is seeking a fourth term on the board and, after facing three challenges in the primary, is running as both a Democrat and a Republican.
"I do believe we are moving too fast. I do believe that we as a district and as a board and as an administration have not worked hard enough to truly get parental involvement," said Brentley.
And parental involvement is the cornerstone of his candidacy. He said making sure parents are involved is key in an effective education system. He touted the program he started, Pittsburgh Public Schools Take a Father to School Day, which he credits with getting more parents into the schools.
His opponent, Rosemary Moriarty, is running as an independent. She said that parental involvement is key, but that it's not the only key.
"I believe that you have to develop programs that are consistently across the school year, instead of just one time a year," she said.
But in the direction of the school board, Moriarty and Brentley are on the same page. Moriarty said that in the past, decisions regarding everything from finances to school closures have been made too quickly. If elected, she said she'd try to slow things down.
"We need an independent study of the schools that we're thinking about closing and seeing what we can provide to students to draw them back into the city schools. And when we have them, making sure they have what they need so that when they come out of school they will be productive citizens," said Moriarty.
Brentley said that the previous school closure plan, as well as the current one, are simply not well thought out, and added that the current budget situation is self-inflicted.
"We can go all the way back to 2008 when our chief financial officer warned us that we are meeting a tough future if we don't do a couple of things. He warned us, and the administration decided not to do it, and here we are paying heavily with the possibility of another round of layoffs and another group of closures," he said.
Moriarty agreed and said that if elected she would seek an independent review on proposed school closures.
"And see what we can provide for students that will draw them back into the city schools. And also when we have them, to make sure they are getting what they need so that when they come out of school they can be productive citizens," she said.
Brentley is a city laborer. Moriarty is a retired school principal. District 8 includes Downtown, the Hill District, Mt. Washington, Allentown, Southside Flats, Bluff, the North Side, Beltzhoover and Knoxville.