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A panel charged with redrawing the boundaries for the nine board seats for the Pittsburgh Public Schools district will get public input this evening. The reapportionment commission appointed by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, City Council and Mt. Oliver will use 2010 U.S. Census information to determine what if any changes will be made.
Co-chair Wayne Gerhold, an attorney, said the commission, charged with providing racial balance, draws the lines based on the city's population, which is 28% African American, not student enrollment, which is 60% African American.
"You have a very high percentage of white and other students who do not go to Pittsburgh public schools," Gerhold said.
Of the nine positions, there are currently four African American school board members, three from areas that have a black majority and one from a district with a majority white population. Although the percentage of African Americans is the same, Gerhold said the population has shifted within the city due to many public housing authority closures in the last decade. Nevertheless, Gerhold doesn’t expect a great change will be necessary based on the new census data.
"That's what I have to look at in terms of the numbers, as well as the other members of the commission," Gerhold said. "My preference would be not to do a major overhaul, but to tweak the boundaries so we can still maintain three African American majority districts."
Public comment is invited at the commission's Tuesday evening meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the John P. Robin Civic Building at 200 Ross Street downtown.
The commission has until late November to complete its work, but Gerhold hopes they will finish by early November so changes can be easily incorporated into ballots for the May primary election.