Pittsburgh Public Schools

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. 

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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. 

Over the last 40 years, family income has overtaken race as the best predictor of student achievement. Among Pittsburgh Public Schools, the general trend holds true. Schools serving more low-income students have lower test scores. But in part two of our three-part Life of Learning series, we report on one public school that has found a strategy for improving student achievement across the board.

Sunnyside Elementary School special education teacher Jennifer Barger said she never realized how powerful data could be, until her students started tracking their own.

The good news: over the last 40 years, the achievement gap between black and white students has narrowed substantially.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About 50 of the 550 students at University Preparatory School in the Hill District are learning the skills of effective leaders.

Teachers at the school selected students they felt were listened to by their peers. Now they're aiming to have those students lead the way toward a more positive school climate.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

One visiting "Cabaret" performer spent Thursday prepping not for the night's performance but teaching local theater students the finer steps to a dance career.

Musical theater and drama students at CAPA, Pittsburgh’s creative and performing arts magnet school, spent the afternoon learning some of the show’s choreography from Aisling Halpin, who plays “Frenchie” in the production.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

  The Pittsburgh Board of Education has posted the application for the district’s next superintendent, officials announced Friday.

The board held seven community forums in January inviting public input for the district’s next leader after current superintendent Linda Lane chose to let her contract expire in June after five years as superintendent.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

More than 200 Pittsburgh Promise scholars and alumni gathered downtown Wednesday to meet with prospective employers for the annual Career Launch.

Eligible to four-year graduates of Pittsburgh Public high schools, the Pittsburgh Promise pledges to cover a sizeable portion of college tuition for students who maintain high attendance and a grade point average of 2.5.

Pittsburgh Public School’s national search for a new superintendent will be a multi-month, transparent process full of community input, Board President Regina Holley said Monday.

The process will begin in January with seven forums held from 6 to 9 p.m. at schools around the city. Childcare will be provided, and all events will be streamed at pittsupsearch.com. There will also be a dedicated email, voicemail and Twitter feed for public input, she said.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

When students Bishal Rai, Arpun Khadka and Gabriel Sahij walk into Concord Elementary School in Carrick, a welcome sign greets them in English, Spanish and Nepali. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools is turning to more progressive methods of discipline, after finding that cut and dry methods, like Zero Tolerance, led to too many suspensions.

Back in the ‘90s, many schools started using those methods as a way to motivate kids to behave.

They put police officers in schools, along with metal detectors. They issued harsh punishments to prevent bigger offenses. 

It became a way of doing things, but opponents say rather than getting students to behave, it was just pushing them out of school. Now administrators shy away from those methods.

Cali4beach / Flickr

Education advocacy group A+ Schools is seeking members for its volunteer review board tasked with overseeing new board members representing Pittsburgh Public Schools.

With three new members sworn in, the Pittsburgh Public School Board has only two members who have served for more than two years. The other four were elected in 2013.

A+ Executive Director Carey Harris said volunteers are city residents prepped by the organization's staffers about current state and national policy.

Pittsburgh Public Schools

Moira Kaleida and Lynda Wrenn might both be new to the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Directors, but they’re not new to the district. 

A+ Schools

A+ Schools' annual analysis of Pittsburgh Public Schools noted again a troubling academic disparity between the district's black and white students.

“The gap is in the 30s,” said Carey Harris, the Pittsburgh-based advocacy group's executive director. “That’s got to be a focus, and I think probably the No. 1 concern leading up to that (will) be attendance and suspensions.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Westinghouse High School officials announced Thursday a new Emergency Response Technology program promising career training for students interested in public safety. 

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

People use Kickstarter to fund everything from tuition payments to weddings. But now, it's being used for creative education programs in Pittsburgh-area schools.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program is solvent until at least 2028, according to its seventh annual report to the community released Tuesday. Guests to the presentation at the Hill House were greeted by kindergarten students from Phillips and Weil elementary schools, donning shirts that read “I am the class of 2028” and giving out enthusiastic handshakes.

Office of Jake Wheatley

A project at Pittsburgh’s Brashear High School to place small “libraries” throughout the community is picking up steam with local lawmakers.

The project, launched last year by parent Debra Smallwood and a career and technical engineering class, builds and decorates wooden boxes to be installed at local organizations. Host facilities agree to stock the boxes with books and place them in a public location so that passersby can borrow the books or add to the collections.

90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane has announced she will let her contract expire in June 2016 and will not seek an extension. Lane first served as deputy superintendent and spent the last five years in her current role.

University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development

  Twenty Pittsburgh Public Schools welcomed hordes of excited and apprehensive kindergartners on Thursday with Freddy the Frog, a green frog mascot representing the district's readiness program.

“We make a big celebration for the kindergarten children coming in for the first time and for their parents,” said Carole Barone-Martin, Pittsburgh Public's executive director of early childhood education.

Five of the nine Pennsylvania schools that will receive federal School Improvement Grants are in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system, the state Department of Education announced Tuesday.

On one hand, it’s great news, because it means $7.3 million in additional funding is coming to PPS over the next five years. On the other hand, it means five of the lowest-achieving schools in the state that have not made substantial progress on state assessments are located in Pittsburgh.

courtesy A+ Schools

Rigorous course offerings and positive reinforcement for hard work creates a more healthy, successful school environment, according to Amy Scott, director of research and data analysis for A+ Schools.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools advocacy group released a report this week detailing its findings of what leads to a positive school climate. Scott said the group has trained volunteers to interview school staff members who remain anonymous since 2009. The interview data is compiled and a report released yearly.

Chromos Cares Improving The Vision Of Pittsburgh Children

Aug 20, 2015
Matheus Almeida / flickr

The American Foundation for Vision Awareness estimates up to 25 percent of school-age children have vision problems that impair their academic performance. To combat this, Lawrenceville-based Chromos Eyewear is partnering with Pittsburgh Public Schools to provide students with proper eye care. Joining us for an in-depth look at the Chromos Cares program are Chromos Eyewear founder Daniel Childs and PPS assistant superintendent Dara Ware Allen.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

In two years, Pittsburgh’s Woolslair Elementary has gone from the verge of closure to one of the cornerstones of the district’s new STEAM initiative. Woolslair will become a partial magnet school focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

More than 100 Pittsburgh students toured the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory in South Park on Friday to talk to experts about science, technology, engineering and math careers.

The lab was one of four in the country selected to host the event as part of President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which challenges cities to focus on programming for at-risk youth.

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