Pittsburgh Public School District

More than 230 air emission sources and 350 natural gas drilling sites are located within one mile of a school in southwestern Pennsylvania, according to Women for a Healthy Environment.

Charter schools in the commonwealth have grown rapidly. Over a five year period beginning in 2006, enrollment in the state increased by 54 percent, and according to the most recent data, 6 percent of Pennsylvania students now attend a charter school.

But a study by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at Penn State has found that charter schools are more racially segregated than their public school counterparts. 

Eric E Castro / flickr

Public school watchdog group A+ Schools wanted to know what principals in the Pittsburgh Public Schools were doing to help support students, so they asked them.

Carey Harris, A+ Schools Executive Director, said they found that many of the schools – even those with a large number of low-income students – are getting “great results.”

PhotosNormandie / Flickr

Seventy years ago this month, Pittsburgh native George Pietropola battled frostbite in the Ardennes Forest during World War II. Just after the war ended, then-Staff Sgt. Pietropola was presented with a Bronze Star for his heroism under fire from February 9th to February 24th. 

"It looked more like a slaughter to me. It was terrible. That was one of the worst things I’d ever seen – that ever happened, all the time I was in the war." - George Pietropola

Flickr user joseph a

Pittsburgh’s City Task Force for Public Education has achieved its primary goal of preventing any school closures for the 2014-15 school year, but City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said there’s still more work for the group to do.

That’s why she is sponsoring legislation to turn the temporary task force into a permanent commission.

The Pittsburgh Public School District has claimed $3 million of $63 million being handed out Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice aimed and increasing school safety efforts nationwide. The grants come through the National Institute of Justice’s Comprehensive School Safety Initiative.

A voicemail threat left on a West Liberty Elementary school number has prompted the Pittsburgh Public School District to evacuate West Liberty, South Brook 6-8 and Pioneer.

The voicemail apparently threatens that a sniper would be at the school today. The message was found shortly before school started. Police are investigating the threat.

Thanks to a federal program, all 25,000 students in the Pittsburgh Public School district will be offered free breakfast and lunch for the next four school years.

The district was recently approved to take part in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility Provision contained in the National School Lunch and Breakfast program.

“Students who are healthy and adequately nourished can learn and learn better,” said Curtistine Walker, director of Pittsburgh Public School District Food Services.

Despite its lengthy waiting list, the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park (ECS) was recently denied permission to expand by the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) Board of Directors.

ECS is a K-8 school created in 2008 to provide alternative education with a focus on the environment. According to ECS Director of Innovation and Development Nikole Sheaffer, the school has a yearly waiting list of 400 to 500 students, and sought to expand to serve that demand.

Educators, administrators and parents from across the country are gathering in Cincinnati for the next three days to discover how to best coordinate support services for students and parents beyond the classroom.

About 30 Pittsburghers, including Board of Education members Carolyn Klug and Sylvia Wilson, the city’s chief education officer Curtiss Porter, teachers and representatives of Great Public Schools Pittsburgh are attending the Coalition for Community Schools' annual forum to “learn how they help the children succeed” according to Klug.

Every year, the city of Pittsburgh collects about $10 million in taxes that many members of the Pittsburgh Public School Board feel is rightfully the district’s. 

Now, Pittsburgh Mayor-elect Bill Peduto says he might be willing to send the cash back to the district, but only if the city’s nonprofit sector steps up with a few dollars of its own.

“It has never come up for discussion,” Peduto said, “but that has to happen in conjunction with a long-term commitment from the major nonprofits, because we don’t have enough money to just open up our budget and give anybody money.”

Minority and special-needs students are more likely to be disciplined by being suspended or expelled from schools. That’s according to a study by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania: Beyond Zero Tolerance: Discipline and Policing in Pennsylvania Public Schools.

The study’s author, ACLU’s Harold Jordan, aggregated data from the commonwealth’s 500 public school districts on out-of-school suspensions, expulsions and removal by police.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

After Election Day, the Pittsburgh Public School Board will experience its largest turnover since 1999. Four members, including the longest-serving, decided not to seek re-election and will be done after the group’s final November meeting.

Jean Fink has been on the school board since 1976 – with a one-term break in there somewhere. The District 7 member says her reason for not seeking reelection is simple.

“I’m tired” said Fink. “I just turned 69 a couple of weeks ago and it’s just wearing on me all the running around.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Lost in the conversations surrounding education are often the voice of those being educated — the students.

By introducing the Pittsburgh Student Bill of Rights, a group of high school students is trying to make their voice heard and change what they perceive as the notion that they are “just kids.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Since the inception of the Pittsburgh Promise, 4,101 students have received college scholarships, and that number will go up to more than 4,600 when scholarships for the class of 2013 are factored in.

With 707 recipients graduated from college, program leaders say the Pittsburgh Promise is having a positive impact on students and the district. The 2013 Report to the Community shows some areas of change, including two demographic shifts.

This school year, students at Pittsburgh Public Schools will not be the only ones rigorously evaluated.

Teachers will be evaluated using a new system unlike any other in the state.

Act 82 was signed last summer requiring school districts across the state to use a system where principal observation only consists of half of teacher evaluations, with the other half coming from student outcomes, including assessment tests.

PPS applied, and was granted, permission to use a different teacher evaluation system for the 2013-14 school year.

Sotheby's

For the Pittsburgh public school district, the value of art can not be over stated. Earlier this week a rare painting called "Interior, Light from the Window" by Henri Le Sidaner, donated to the district by a group called Friends of Art, was sold in auction for more than $750,000. The money will benefit the financially strapped Pittsburgh Public Schools.

For nearly a century, Friends of Art has donated more than 300 works of art to the district. Most were created by local artists and like the Sidaner painting, many are displayed in school offices and other buildings throughout the district.

Guest Louise Lippincott, head of the department of fine arts at the Carnegie Museum of Art, has followed the history of the Sidaner painting

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Happily announcing a trio of major gifts from locally-based corporations, Pittsburgh Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril said Monday that the city's scholarship fund now expects to raise $90 million more by 2015, three years earlier than expected.