A+ Schools has given the Pittsburgh Public School Board a grade of B- for November, December, and January. The grade is compiled as a result of volunteer observations of school board meetings. A+ Schools Executive Director Carey Harris said that grade is the same as the grade the board received on its August report card. The reason is a lack of focus on its main mission, or what Harris called "role clarity."
"The board's job is to set policies, manage policies, evaluate polices, not to manage the day-to-day operations of the district," she said.
But, Harris said, the board only spent about half of their time doing that, and the other half focusing on more administrative tasks. Some of the recommendations from volunteers, who went to meetings and took surveys which resulted in the grade, include:
- Limiting the amount of time given to a discussion
- Limit the time that any given board member can comment on an item
- Avoid interrupting procedures with unrelated topics
- Focus less on details and micromanaging
- Manage time effectively
- Prioritize focusing on student achievement, rather than community
Some areas of improvement include focus and mission which rose from a C to a B since August. Overall, Harris said the board is moving in the right direction, and added a B minus is not a bad grade.
"That said, as a parent, when a kid brings home a B minus, you'd love to see it better, and I know this board would love to see a better grade as well," she said. "It's a decent grade, and we encourage the board for the progress it's making, and we encourage them to keep plugging away and trying for that A."