Pittsburgh Public Schools Wants to be More Competitive, Fiscally Responsible

Oct 23, 2012

In a wide-ranging discussion of education Tuesday, Pittsburgh City Council members heard about the Pittsburgh Public School District's goal of being more financially frugal and more competitive with its private counterparts.

PPS Executive Director of Strategic Priorities Cate Reed said the district's administration needs a five-year plan that would help the district be more thrifty with waning allocations from the state government.

"We need to embark on that vision, envisioning what a 21st Century educational delivery model looks like in an urban school system," said Reed.

Reed said the public school district must revise its course offerings to change PPS into an option some parents would "at least consider" over Pittsburgh's private school choices.

City Councilman Patrick Dowd, a former school board member, said he's hoping for PPS superintendent Linda Lane to stay at her post for a long time, after the previous five-year term of former superintendent Mark Roosevelt.

"We need to have leadership that's going to be sustained for a long period of time," said Dowd. "We were looking for somebody for a generation of kids that would be able to make the kinds of changes and that would be held accountable for those changes."

While the post agenda meeting simply constituted a general discussion on education in Pittsburgh, Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said she's considering the creation of a city education committee to work on specific problems in public schools. She said former mayor Tom Murphy created the education panel that is now known as A+ Schools, but said her proposal would be different.

"I don't want it to be something similar to that, because I want it to be something that I feel is going to be effective in the end, that we don't need funding to do it, that we're working out of [City Council] and we're getting real results," said Kail-Smith.

The Councilwoman said another option to increase city officials' influence in Pittsburgh Public Schools is to have Council and the mayor appoint some school board members, a practice that she said is done in other major cities. Currently, all nine school board members are elected by the public.