Pittsburgh Public Schools

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA


The Wilkinsburg School District has seen a high turnover in leadership in the last several years. It’s on the state’s watch list for low academic performance which, combined with declining enrollment, led to the closure of its middle and high school in May. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Students in Pittsburgh’s hilltop neighborhoods will go back to school in a fully renovated building next week.

The 78,000-square-foot property that housed the former Philip Murray Elementary in Mount Oliver is now home to the newly-upgraded Arlington Elementary.

In the school’s old location, a half-mile away from the new one, its students were housed in two buildings that had fallen into disrepair, Arlington K-8 Principal Holly Ballard said.

Humphrey's and Partners Urban Architecture

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board plans to lessen the tax burden for a New-York based developer to build a high rise apartment building in Oakland.

The developer, Park 7, plans to turn several properties on Centre Avenue from North Craig to North Dithridge into a 17-story mixed use development with 14 floors of residential space.

Tom Hurley / 90.5 WESA

The 2016-17 school year is set to begin for Pittsburgh Public Schools next week after a tumultuous summer capped by the controversial hiring of new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, who fielded questions for weeks over whether he plagiarized and misrepresented portions of the resume he used to earn the district's top job. The board voted to retain him in June.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools’ new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, now a month into the job, said student and teacher input will be essential to the district's strategic plan going forward. 

In an update to the school board Tuesday, he called the first phase of his 90-day transition plan, “a listening tour.”

“We must focus on teacher input and best practices when we consider introducing more research-based, proven models that drive student outcomes,” Hamlet said. “But, you must do this by a bottom-up approach with our best teachers taking a leadership role in the conversation.”

Elaine Thompson / AP

Pittsburgh Public school administrators began training for the district’s new transgender nondiscrimination policy which goes into effect this school year.

Vanessa Davis, executive director of THRIVE, said the policy, which will allow transgender and gender expansive students, those who identify outside of gender categories, to use pronouns, names and bathrooms they identify with, is a large undertaking. Any change stemming from the policy won’t come overnight, she said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Preschooler Marleny Roasario sat cross-legged on a multi-colored carpet Wednesday, scrunching her face at a blue and purple snaggle-toothed troll. 

Performing artist Amber Ramsey Fantini laughed, bobbing her puppets at the class. "Turn around," she told the girl. "Show your teacher and all the other kids."

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board approved two contracts with separate consulting groups to help new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet and district staff develop a strategic plan for the next five years.

Ronald Joseph, chief operations officer for the district, said it’s standard practice for a new leader to have an unbiased third-party look at the needs of the organization. He called both contracts – totaling $274,000 – economical solutions for an in-depth analysis and forming a strategic plan.

alamobasement / Flickr

Pittsburgh Public Schools board members will decide Wednesday if the district will move forward with a plan to provide social services to students and the communities it serves.

It would follow the community schools model which provides students with equitable access to programs and services like medical care, psychological services, access to a food bank, English as a second language training or work education programs, all in a familiar building: a public school. 

Governor Wolf Administration / Flickr

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board will vote later this month on a policy that would allow nurses and school police to administer the drug naloxone, also known as Narcan, in the event someone on school grounds overdoses from opioids.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet started his first official day as Pittsburgh Public Schools' newest leader by apologizing for the "unintended distraction" caused by allegations of misrepresentation and plagiarism riddling his resume.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board unanimously approved a policy Wednesday night that will allow transgender and gender expansive students, those who identify outside of gender categories, to use pronouns, names and bathrooms they identify with in the coming school year.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

More than half of the 85 registered speakers in an almost four-hour meeting Monday vented to Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education members about new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet.

Oregon Dept. of Transportation / Flickr

Water used for drinking and preparing food at Pittsburgh Public Schools is now being tested for lead.

The Allegheny County Health Department will work with Pittsburgh Public Schools and local water authorities to pinpoint and shut-off dangerous outlets throughout the 70 district facilities. All testing will take place this summer.

Even though there is no federal or state law requiring drinking water to be tested for lead, Pittsburgh Public Schools Chief Operations Officer Ronald Joseph said district officials want to take a proactive approach.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Advocacy groups representing Pittsburgh Public Schools are calling for a new superintendent search following weeks of controversy surrounding the Board of Education's first choice, Anthony Hamlet. 

The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, the Hill District Education Council, the Black Political Empowerment Project and A+ Schools issued a joint statement on Tuesday:

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools board members said they met with new superintendent Anthony Hamlet, a former Florida educator, on Monday to discuss inconsistencies in his resume and accusations of plagiarism.

90.5 WESA

Linda Lane has been a force in Pittsburgh Public Schools since she became superintendent in 2010. At the end of June, she’ll be stepping down and stopped by Essential Pittsburgh to talk about her experience in the role and what she's learned.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board is expected to review claims that new Pittsburgh Superintendent Anthony Hamlet plagiarized a phrase in his resume and a statement to the press when his appointment was announced, spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

  Anthony Hamlet admitted he fudged one detail in the five-page resume he used to score Pittsburgh Public Schools top job last month

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

State education officials wired Wilkinsburg School District $3 million in emergency funding last week to aid in middle and high school students transitioning to Pittsburgh Public Schools this fall.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

  Pittsburgh Public Schools' new pick for superintendent defended his resume to his hometown newspaper on Friday after press suggested he made "misstatements of exaggerations" about his accomplishments leading Palm Beach County schools.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

  Interim Wilkinsburg High School Principal Shawn Johnston’s voice reverberated through the intercom into bare, empty hallways on the second to last day of school. Packing boxes had arrived in the office.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Wilkinsburg and Westinghouse sixth, seventh and eighth graders got an early taste of the schools' impending merger at a field day in North Park on Tuesday.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Though more than 60 percent of the students in Pittsburgh Public Schools are people of color, district officials said eighty-five percent of its teachers are white and primarily women.

Carrick High School junior Trevon Stanton said throughout his education, he’s rarely had a teacher who looks like him. That’s why he’s considering becoming a teacher one day.

First off, it starts with me," Stanton said. "If no one’s going to be the change then I will.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A Florida educator and former NFL defensive end will likely be the next to helm Pittsburgh Public Schools. Board members unanimously approved the appointment Wednesday.

Anthony Hamlet works with principals and instructional specialists on school improvement in Palm Beach County, Fla., where he currently serves as director of school accountability and transformation. Hamlet was appointed a five year term for July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2021 with a starting salary of $221,000 a year at the board's Special Legislative Meeting.

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

 

Pittsburgh Public Schools have extended the district's contracts with its teachers union through June 30, 2017.

The previous contract expired last year on June 30, and the sides have been negotiating ever since.

The contract covers about 3,000 teachers, aides and clerical workers.

The school board and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers announced the tentative deal Monday. Terms weren't immediately disclosed.

The teachers will vote on the deal May 16, and the school board must still schedule a vote.

 

xMizLitx / Flickr

For attorney Aimee Zundel, Pittsburgh Public Schools' student policies need to serve the needs of all students.

"Particularly our at-risk populations and students that are more susceptible to not feeling safe within the school for example,” Zundel said. 

Zundel is working with the district, and its policy committee, to craft a plan to outline specific rights for transgender students. 

google Maps

The former Gladstone Middle School building in Hazelwood has sat vacant for 15 years.  

Now it soon could have a new owner and new life.

The Hazelwood Initiative, a neighborhood development group, has signed papers to purchase the building from Pittsburgh Public Schools for $250,000.

The school board in November awarded the Initiative the option to buy the building, and since then the two sides have been finalizing the language of the agreement.

Bill Hildabrand

Staff turnover rates are a consistent problem when recruiting teacher talent. How do you prepare future teachers studying education for the challenges and rigors of urban schooling? 90.5 WESA’s Kevin Gavin posed the question to Bill Hildabrand, seventh grade teacher at Chartiers Valley Middle School, and Lacey Hohl, second grade teacher at Faison Elementary School.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

In Pennsylvania, fourth graders from middle and upper class families are more than twice as likely as their peers from low income families to score advanced or proficient on standardized reading tests, mirroring the nationwide trend. 

Pages