PPS Board Candidates On The District’s Biggest Issues, From The Achievement Gap To Charters

May 8, 2017

The May 16 primary, in addition to shaping the mayoral race, will be an opportunity for Pittsburghers to cast their votes for members of the Pittsburgh Public Schools board. 

Two races are uncontested and only one has no incumbent as Thomas Sumpter, who represents district three, is not running for re-election.

90.5 WESA's Sarah Schneider had the candidates fill out questionnaires to find out where they fall on various issues, such as the achievement gap, guns in schools and learning outcomes. Advocacy group A Plus Schools also sent candidates a questionnaire. You can read candidates' answers on issues including budgeting and property taxes here. A Plus is hosting a candidate forum May 8 at 6 p.m. at the Kaufman Center in the Hill District.

You can also enter your address on the PPS website to find your School Board district

District 1: Homewood, East Hills, North Point Breeze, Parts of Point Breeze – Park Place, Regent Square, Friendship, Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, Friendship, Larimer, parts of East Liberty, parts of Shadyside.

Sylvia Wilson - District 1 incumbent, unopposed 

Credit Provided Photo

Wilson attended Peabody High School,  which is now the Barack Obama Academy of International Studies 6-12. She received a bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a retired Pittsburgh Public Schools elementary school teacher and has worked on committees for the district to develop effective discipline methods, recruit minorities, the strategic plan task force, the city wide school desegregation task force and the textbook selection committee. She said she wants to continue her work with the district to, “provide the educational opportunities that Pittsburgh children deserve.” 

What education-related issues most affect the district you are running to represent?

The children in District 1 are Pittsburgh Public Schools’ children. What affects them is experienced by students across the Pittsburgh School District.  That’s why the school board must work on behalf of all students. There has to be equity in educational opportunities, in comprehensive schools, not just offered in magnet schools.  Providing students with the knowledge of the myriad of work options beyond high school is necessary for them to dream and to aspire to more than what they may see day to day, in their communities.    

What are your ideas for reducing the district’s achievement gap?

Basically, I would say the answer is the same as what I shared for question No. 5.  However, a recent review of data shows that any racial learning/academic achievement difference is not based on socio-economic factors.  This is now a new focus to determine why and how this can be resolved moving forward.

How should teachers be held accountable for improving learning outcomes?

To have a safe learning and work environment in which children can learn and teachers can teach, actually has proven to be a factor of better learning outcomes. When there is consistency in rituals and routines (in school procedures) everyone knows that the goal is to succeed. Working together as a team brings this environment to reality. 

Do you support funding a community school plan?

Yes, with finances to be shared with the various school partners.

How should charter schools be funded?

Charter schools should be funded separately. They also should be held accountable to the public in the same ways as “regular” public schools as they are using public money. 

The school board is responsible for approving TIF and LERTA tax breaks. How will you base your decisions to approve or deny these tax breaks in the city?

Decisions are based on future tax dollars that will come to fund schools; on job opportunities for local workers who then spend their dollars which contributes to the local economy.

The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers wants the district to reconsider what weapons school police officers carry. Do you support equipping school police with guns?

That is an issue that has only been briefly discussed informally with the board. There has not been a formal request for consideration.  

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet has been at the helm of the district for nearly nine months. How would you rate his tenure? What type of relationship should the school board have with the superintendent?

It is the board’s responsibility to evaluate the superintendent. He he has done much to learn the district, to evaluate district systems and will soon present the strategic plan. The school board must work closely with the superintendent on behalf of the students. 

How can the district attract families who have left neighborhood schools for private or charter schools back to the district?

The Pittsburgh Promise, our Early Childhood Programs, the many CTE programs are among attractions to our district, more has to be done to make these many options better known. 

District 3: Garfield, Crawford-Roberts, Terrace Village, Middle Hill, Upper Hill District, Sugartop, parts of Stanton Heights, Parts of Oakland, East Liberty, Bedford Dwellings, parts of Bloomfield.

Sala Udin - District 3

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Udin attended Central Catholic and Schenley High School. He was not an educator but has been an education policy advocate dating back to 1968 when he helped form Blacks for Quality Education, which was heavily involved in the desegregation of the Pittsburgh Public Schools. As a Pittsburgh City Councilman, he was involved in a campaign to replace appointed school boards with elected boards. In 2002, he established the Hill District Education Council which he continues to lead. He said he wants to be a board director to, “Use my vast historical experiences to reverse a culture of mediocrity and to engage all sectors, i.e. political, corporate, foundations, innovation/technology, community organizations and parents in a consolidated effort to create a great school district in Pittsburgh.” 

What education-related issues most affect the district you are running to represent?

Race and socio-economic achievement gaps.

What are your ideas for reducing the district’s achievement gap?

A School Board-led campaign to raise expectations and that demands excellence at all levels, from the board, all the way down the system to the students themselves. No excuses – just excellence.

How should teachers be held accountable for improving learning outcomes?

First, teachers require adequate professional development support and the removal of administrative obstacles. Secondly, teachers must be evaluated comprehensively, which includes test results, classroom observation and student input.

Do you support funding a community school plan?

Yes, I do support funding community schools.

How should charter schools be funded?

PPS and charter schools must find a way to collaborate on alternative funding streams that do not further drain the resources of the primary PPS budget.

The school board is responsible for approving TIF and LERTA tax breaks. How will you base your decisions to approve or deny these tax breaks in the city?

The board should be open to proposals from the city for TIF and LERTA financed development projects, but the projects must be brought to the board early in the planning process and the board must make independent decisions regarding their support.

The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers wants the district to reconsider what weapons school police officers carry. Do you support equipping school police with guns?

I am very sensitive to the concern of teachers, families and students regarding safety. Everyone wants to be safe going to school, in school and returning home from school. There are many ways the stakeholders can find to improve security. However, I am not in support of arming school personnel with guns.

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet has been at the helm of the district for nearly nine months. How would you rate his tenure? What type of relationship should the school board have with the superintendent?

Dr. Hamlet seems to be off to a very good start. He has traveled to many of the schools and attends many meetings with parents, staff and students. He has initiated a Strategic Planning process, unveiled the week of April 26. He contracted with the Council on Great City Schools to come to Pittsburgh to conduct a thorough assessment of the operations of the PPS. Their report resulted in 125 measurable recommendations, which Dr. Hamlet has committed to their implementation. That’s an impressive start, but it is too early to give him a “grade.”

His relationship to the board must be based on professionalism and his contract. There must be clear lines that separate the board as policy makers and the Superintendent, as the person responsible for implementing the policy.

How can the district attract families who have left neighborhood schools for private or charter schools back to the district?

The only thing that will return departed families is a competitive school district that provides educational quality that is second to none – and free. Only excellence in teaching and excellence in learning will produce 21st Century high quality education.

James Myers - District 3

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Myers is a graduate of Pittsburgh Public School’s Schenley High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Carlow University in 2012. He also attended Morehead State University and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. He was a teaching assistant and basketball coach at the Urban League of Pittsburgh, a charter school that is now the Urban Academy. Previously he was the education and outreach coordinator for the Pittsburgh Green Innovators, teaching green practices to University Prep students in the Hill District. He also worked as a program coordinator with the Schenley Heights Community Development Program leading enrichment for students facing academic challenges as the school transitioned into the former Reizenstein Middle School building. He said he wants to be a board member to, “Restore pride and resilience in our communities; cultivate a community where investing in education is our top priority; increase access to quality resources for our students, teachers, and communities; and create programs that are pipelines to careers, trades, and professions.”

What education-related issues most affect the district you are running to represent?

Low academic performance, high suspension rates, students fail the third grade and then are pushed through only to fail the fifth grade, disparities between African Americans students achieving low marks while Caucasian students achieve good marks but they sit in the same class. Teachers do not reflect student population in the communities they serve. Issues with cultural competency and learning materials are outdated.

What are your ideas for reducing the district’s achievement gap?

Every one of our schools put a parent resource center. Begin to set high standards, be equipped to meet those standards. Literacy and math coaches at the kindergarten, first, and second grade. Resilience starts at the primary level.  Curriculum has to reflect the culture of the community, there's a group titled Genius Plaza that we should look at bringing their model to Pittsburgh Public Schools.   

How should teachers be held accountable for improving learning outcomes?

I quote Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, in saying "Standardized testing is at cross purposes with many of the most important purposes of public education. It doesn't measure big-picture learning, critical thinking, perseverance, problem solving, creativity or curiosity, yet those are the qualities great teachers bring out in a student." I believe teachers should be held accountable on how students are learning in the classroom, achieving good marks, developing life skills and maintaining self-discipline that models the behavior of a law abiding citizen who is a productive member of today's society. 

Do you support funding a community school plan?

Yes, I support funding a community schools plan. I believe they can be a great asset to Pittsburgh Public Schools. 

How should charter schools be funded?

I think charter schools should be funded with various streams where they raise their own funds to show they have some skin in the game and dedicated to their mission. Also, they receive money from the district but not their sole source of funding. 

The school board is responsible for approving TIF and LERTA tax breaks. How will you base your decisions to approve or deny these tax breaks in the city?

I will base my decision on approving or denying these tax breaks depending on which communities of the city in which the tax breaks will be given.  

The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers wants the district to reconsider what weapons school police officers carry. Do you support equipping school police with guns?

No, I do not support equipping school police officers with guns. 

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet has been at the helm of the district for nearly nine months. How would you rate his tenure? What type of relationship should the school board have with the superintendent?

Currently, I think the short time frame is premature to rate his tenure. The school board should have an open line of communication with the superintendent and work together to improve the quality of education for all students in terms of education equity.

How can the district attract families who have left neighborhood schools for private or charter schools back to the district?

The district can attract families back to the district by ensuring that students are academically prepared to attend college and also educating them on other options such as trades (i.e. plumbing, carpentry, welding, etc.) The district will attract families back to the district when people realize the quality of education has improved and you have success stories as examples. Showing a heavy focus on education at the primary level will build a strong foundation for students because if you are able to read, write and count it sets a solid base for continuous learning. First you have to learn to read. Then you have to read to learn. The district will attract families back to the district once people believe that you can receive a quality education inside the public school system that will prepare you to be successful in life and a law abiding citizen. 

District 5: Southside, Lincoln Place, Greenfield, South Oakland, Central Oakland, Hays, Summerset at Frick Park, Hazelwood, Swisselm Park, parts of Squirrel Hill, Glen Hazel, New Homestead.

Terry Kennedy - District 5, incumbent

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Kennedy, a Carnegie Mellon University Grad, has been a mentor for Schenley High School magnet program students, a member of the Parent Teacher Organization for Minadeo Elementary School, Colfax K-8 and CAPA middle school. She was a member of the Allderdice High School and CAPA 6-12 Parent Teacher Associations. She has been a member of district-wide initiatives including the Excellence For All Committee, the Local Task Force On The Right To Education and the committee charged with reviewing the parent involvement guide. She said she wants to continue her work she has started including, “Improving achievement, improving educational opportunities, increasing equity across the district, decreasing achievement gaps, being fiscally responsible and transparency.” 

What education-related issues most affect the district you are running to represent?

Equity in resources, adequate budget for school needs and recognition of successes by our students and schools.

What are your ideas for reducing the district’s achievement gap?

Provide a culturally responsive curriculum, provide equitable resources, provide more staffing, and most importantly, reduce high-stakes testing. Additionally, encourage students of color to apply for the gifted program and offer more higher-level classes in lower performing schools.

How should teachers be held accountable for improving learning outcomes?

They should be held accountable only for the content they teach and the students in their classes.

Do you support funding a community school plan?

I support community schools but not without sustainable funding. My vote on the policy was a “reluctant no” due to the lack of funding to support implementing the policy. As important as Community Schools is to the vision of the district, we need to make sure they are adequately funded to ensure their success and sustainability.

How should charter schools be funded?

Charter schools should be funded based on actual expenses for teaching their students, not based on the expenditures of the sending districts. The current funding formula results in districts paying different amounts of money to the same charter school. The cost to educate students in a specific charter school and in the same classroom is the same, regardless of the amount of money received from the different school districts. The charter school funding formula needs to be updated to decrease the financial burden on the school districts that pay their expenses. The current formula places a financial strain on the districts, and further limits opportunities in the district.

The school board is responsible for approving TIF and LERTA tax breaks. How will you base your decisions to approve or deny these tax breaks in the city?

As a board member, I need to follow our board policy. If an applicant meets the criteria defined in policy 705.1, the abatement should be approved.

The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers wants the district to reconsider what weapons school police officers carry. Do you support equipping school police with guns?

The union’s formal request to the board is to modify policy 335 by removing “The Board does not authorize its school police officers to carry firearms.” from the policy. I support investigating the pros and cons of the request in order to have all of the facts. Please note removing this line from the policy is not the same as saying all school police officers will be armed. Any decision to modify the policy to permit officers to carry firearms must be accompanied by detailed administrative regulations. The cost of implementing this change along with a funding source must also be understood before any recommendation to move forward can occur. Until all facts are known, no decision or recommendation can be made to the full board. I will also support the will of the constituents in my board district.

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet has been at the helm of the district for nearly nine months. How would you rate his tenure? What type of relationship should the school board have with the superintendent?

The school board and the superintendent should be a team of ten working towards the best interests of all students in the district. Dr. Hamlet has shown true leadership and has responded well to situations as they have occurred.

How can the district attract families who have left neighborhood schools for private or charter schools back to the district?

The district first needs to understand the reasons the majority of these families have selected other options for their children’s education. Areas of concerns that can be addressed should be addressed, provided there is funding to support the change. Our school district will become more attractive if we offer more related arts classes and extracurricular activities. Families care about effective school leaders and class sizes. Students want more course options when they select courses for the next school year.

Ghadah Makoshi - District 5

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Makoshi attended the Eugene, Oregon public school system. She earned a bachelor’s degree from KSU, a master’s degree from Capella University and a master’s from Portland State University. She taught Kindergarten before returning to graduate school. She has been a member of the Minadeo Parent Teacher Organization and chaired the Box Tops and Family Fun Night. She said she wants to be a board member to help make change, especially after she said she had to take care of her medically fragile son during the school day because there were no nurses available. “As a result, we were forced to leave Minadeo to attend a school that did have a full-time nurse. After speaking with students and parents in the district, I found that my situation was not unique, and that students all over the district were suffering as a result of the austerity measures that forced cuts on our schools and eliminated full time nurses.”

What education-related issues most affect the district you are running to represent?

Closing the achievement gap, expanding arts and CTE programs, and improving education for students with disabilities. 

What are your ideas for reducing the district’s achievement gap?

The most valuable investments we can make in our community is in quality early childhood education (ECE). Research has shown that for every dollar spent on ECE, $17 is saved on other social services. Children from middle and upper-class families hear, on average, 30 million more total words than those living in poverty by the time they are three years old. This difference becomes what we later perceive as the “achievement gap.” When children, particularly those from families living in poverty, have access to high quality early childhood education through the expansion of Pre-K, they are exposed to more language and social interactions, which can help in narrowing the achievement gap. In addition, we need to implement strategies that have been proven successful. We need more paraprofessionals, social workers, more activity throughout the day, and smaller class sizes, to ensure teachers are able to work individually with students, as needed.

How should teachers be held accountable for improving learning outcomes?

Not only do current standardized tests, like the PSSAs, not accurately measure the abilities of minority children, English language learners and students with disabilities, but these tests are inaccessible to teachers and to parents. When teachers are excluded from viewing the tests they are administering, how can they possibly learn from or be evaluated on these tests? There should always be accountability, but I think there are better ways of assessing teachers, and if they do not already exist, better ways to assess what our students are learning to ensure they are meeting and potentially exceeding national standards. Penalizing teachers when students do poorly on standardized tests does not improve the quality of the teaching, make teachers “work harder”, or students do better. We need to consider what needs are being unmet. What resources are schools or teachers lacking to help these students better succeed? When schools do poorly they need more help, more support, more resources, not less. Accountability cannot be code for scapegoating. We all have a responsibility to ensure our students succeed, but laying the blame solely on teachers is ineffective and detrimental to student learning.

Do you support funding a community school plan?

I absolutely support funding a community schools plan. Currently, the school board is not doing enough to lobby the state for additional funding, and to solicit or request funds from corporations in our city, as well as families/alumni, who have traditionally invested millions in higher education programs at CMU and the University of Pittsburgh. Additionally, with the implementation of ESSA there will be greater flexibility in Title I and Tile IV funds that will allow schools to pay for a community school coordinator to provide more support, outreach and engagement with parents, students and community organizations.

How should charter schools be funded?

Pennsylvania’s charter school law passed in 1997, and still has a funding formula that is out of date, and negatively affects the finances of the district (and, more often, surrounding districts) where they reside. Prior to 2011-12, school districts were reimbursed by the state for a portion of the amount sent to charter schools, until former Governor Corbett cut the $220 million reimbursement from the budget. As it stands now, Pennsylvania needs to be better at regulating the funding formula for charters so that charters, especially cyber charters, are not being paid more than they spend. In the meantime, the state should reinstate that Charter Reimbursement line, which would allow our school districts to reinvest in our public schools and provide them with the funds needed to guarantee every child receives a high quality education.

The school board is responsible for approving TIF and LERTA tax breaks. How will you base your decisions to approve or deny these tax breaks in the city?

I don’t think we should give developers tax breaks (TIFs or LERTAs) on projects that would occur without those breaks. And IF we do approve a tax break it should be with a negotiation that includes affordable housing, local jobs, and union employees. We cannot afford to take more money away from our students and schools, we need greater investment, not disinvestment in our children.

The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers wants the district to reconsider what weapons school police officers carry. Do you support equipping school police with guns?

Absolutely not. There is no evidence that police in schools increases student safety. However, when they are present, teachers and principals rely on them to handle routine disciplinary measures, which promotes anxiety and distrust among students. The Department of Justice found that, even when controlling for poverty level, schools with armed officers have nearly five times the rate of arrests for disorderly conduct. In a report created by the Secret Service and US Department of Education, experts stated that schools would do better by addressing the root causes of violence: bullying, a lack of a respectful environment, and neglecting despair and depression in students (Creating, 2004).

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet has been at the helm of the district for nearly nine months. How would you rate his tenure? What type of relationship should the school board have with the superintendent?

Based on Dr. Hamlet’s 90-day plan and his involvement in soliciting input and feedback from the entire community, I think that he is on the right path to creating positive strategic change at PPS. He has been open and transparent every step of the way and has included the community on strategic planning by going through a feedback and community forum process to learn what needed to change and building a 90-day plan around that. He also moved the Special Education Director up to his executive cabinet, making that position a key part of the decision making process and not simply an afterthought. While the superintendent reports to the School Board, and the relationship should be collaborative, it is still the responsibility of the School Board to ensure Dr. Hamlet is meeting the goals set.

How can the district attract families who have left neighborhood schools for private or charter schools back to the district?

Parents need to have trust in the school district/school board that they have the best interests of the parents and students in mind. This does not happen by closing schools, levelling classes, cutting language classes or moving art to a cart, or giving corporation’s tax breaks. What we need is to invest in education so that we can have before and after school programs, more resources that meet our teachers and students’ needs, transportation that is safe and reliable, better assessment models, more activity throughout the day, smaller class sizes, full time nurses and librarians, and to bring back arts, music, and CTE programs to more, if not all, schools in the district.

District 7: Allentown, Arlington, Bon Air, Carrick, East Brookline, St. Clair, Knoxville, Mt. Oliver, Overbrook, Southside Flats, Southside Slopes.

Cynthia Falls - District 7, incumbent

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Falls graduated from the Community College of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania State University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She taught health Careers Explorations in Pittsburgh Public high schools and participated in the Parent Student Community Council for four community schools as a liaison between schools. She retired from PPS in 2010. She said she wants to continue as a board director because, “Improving our education system and working toward providing the best opportunities for our students and encouraging parental/community involvement is work I hope to continue.” 

What education-related issues most affect the district you are running to represent?

District 7 needs Administrative support and professional development to ensure the most effective teaching methods delivered to our students. In addition, our students need more mentoring, job shadowing and internships to enhance their learning experience.  

What are your ideas for reducing the district’s achievement gap?

Research supports and emphasizes early childhood learning. We must assure that all students can proficiently read by the third grade. 

How should teachers be held accountable for improving learning outcomes?

I think the current teachers evaluation is efficient.  Continual monitoring of student progress is essential.

Do you support funding a community school plan?

Yes, I do support funding of community schools, however, I believe we have much work to do to make this a reality.  There are many details that need to be worked out but I think we should start smart but move forward with this endeavor.

How should charter schools be funded?

Charter schools are public schools.  However, the funding system is not fair. It depletes the public schools of money to educate ALL students, where Charter schools have a tendency to not accept special students or students that require any services or attention above the norm.

The school board is responsible for approving TIF and LERTA tax breaks. How will you base your decisions to approve or deny these tax breaks in the city?

It takes two other levels to approve these tax breaks before it comes before the PPS School Board.  I rely on all the information provided to me and the advice of the “experts” in the appropriate areas.

The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers wants the district to reconsider what weapons school police officers carry. Do you support equipping school police with guns?

This entire matter has not been brought to the table.  This issue will require the input of all stakeholders.  There are pros and cons regarding this request to reconsider school police with guns.

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet has been at the helm of the district for nearly nine months. How would you rate his tenure? What type of relationship should the school board have with the superintendent?

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet has been on target with reaching to all stakeholders.  His Look, Listen and Learn forums were successful.  The forums on student code of conduct gave an opportunity for people to share their thoughts and opinions.  I believe Dr. Hamlet is positioned where he should be for his first nine months.  Dr. Hamlet is working with the Board and keeping lines of open communication.  We support many administrative initiatives and try to support Dr. Hamlet with policies.

How can the district attract families who have left neighborhood schools for private or charter schools back to the district?

We have so many opportunities to offer our students, staff, parents, community, District and City. Especially with the CTE programs will not be long before many of these families return back to PPS.

Conrad Burns - District 7 

Burns was recently accepted to Law School and said, “I have chosen to attend beginning in September. So, I will not be able to further pursue a seat on the school board.” Burns said he is not participating in any interviews or candidate forums. His name will appear on the ballot as the date to withdraw has passed. 

District 9: Sheraden, Windgap, Brighton Heights, Perry Hilltop, Oakwood, Ridgemont, Crafton Heights, Chartiers City, parts of Northside, Westwood, Fairywood, Elliot, Espien, Marshall-Shadeland-East Carnegie, West End, Summer Hill.

Carolyn Klug - District 9, incumbent 

Klug attended Baldwin High School, Chatham College and later Chatham University. She holds teaching certificates in early childhood and elementary education and taught in the Pittsburgh Public Schools for nearly 20 years as a kindergarten and third grade teacher. She said she wants to continue to serve district 9 because, “I would like to support the work that the new administration is starting. We are very student focused at this time and I think we are going in the right direction for students. There is a lot of work to be done. I want to be a part of that work.” 

What education-related issues most affect the district you are running to represent?

Keeping schools open is important to families. Parents want to see a clear path for their children.   The district must also ensure that CTE, AP and other programs are offered all across the district not just in pockets.  All children need access to be successful.

What are your ideas for reducing the district’s achievement gap?

Our children need access to all programs.  There should not be classes available to some and not to others.  I also think that Community Schools will help children become successful.  Meeting needs of families and the community will enable our children to do their best in school.   

How should teachers be held accountable for improving learning outcomes?

Teachers should be given credit for the progress that students make.  Teachers and the administration must work together to support one another in order for children to make progress.  Teachers must be held accountable but I don’t think that High Stakes Testing is the only measure of teaching or of student learning.

Do you support funding a community school plan?

Yes, I think that funding community schools is important.  However, I think that funding can come in many forms and from various resources.  Working together with providers should bring about the best resources for children.

How should charter schools be funded?

I don’t know the best answer to that question but I know that Public Education should be adequately funded for our children.  I’m more than willing to sit down with legislators to discuss the equitable funding.  We need to keep all children and families in mind when working on this issue.

The school board is responsible for approving TIF and LERTA tax breaks. How will you base your decisions to approve or deny these tax breaks in the city?

My votes are based on how such breaks help or hurt the children of Pittsburgh.  Listening to those involved and those effected by the development is essential to making such a decision.

The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers wants the district to reconsider what weapons school police officers carry. Do you support equipping school police with guns?

Currently, I am opposed to such a change.  I will listen to all sides but have not been convinced that it is a necessary step to take.

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet has been at the helm of the district for nearly nine months. How would you rate his tenure? What type of relationship should the school board have with the superintendent?

I believe that Dr. Hamlet and his staff are working diligently to provide a quality education to the children of Pittsburgh.  The board and administration should have a strong working relationship to accomplish his goals. We must let him accomplish the goals that we hired him to do.

How can the district attract families who have left neighborhood schools for private or charter schools back to the district?

We are currently working towards that goal.  Equitably providing class offerings and materials as well are starting Community Schools will allow families to see that we are serious about making sure that our children are successful adults.  We need to be welcoming to families and to get the word out about what the children of Pittsburgh Public Schools are doing.

Veronica Edwards - District 9

Edwards did not respond to multiple requests for comment from 90.5 WESA.  

The candidates' questions were copy edited for clarity.