Following suit with the Pittsburgh City Council election, two non-endorsed candidates for the Pittsburgh Public School District Board of Directors came out victorious in the primary election on May 17.
In the weeks following the election, District 8 Representative Mark Brentley has celebrated yet another victory in his long tenure on the school board. However, Regina Holley, the democratic winner of the election is preparing for the possibility of facing incumbent District 2 Representative Dara Ware Allen who received the republican nomination.
“Even though I cross-filed, I am weighing my options about whether I’m going to run. An extended campaign period is something that would have an impact on my family so I’d have to carefully weigh it,” said Allen who will announce her decision later this month. “I’m still very committed to the Pittsburgh Public Schools.”
Holley received 50 percent of the vote to Allen’s 40 percent with the third candidate Celina Bassant receiving only eight percent. Despite the possibility of a battle in the November election, Holley, a former PPS principal, is already considering how she will fill the District 2 seat.
“We have a lot of initiatives going on and we need to look at them more closely. We need to look at curriculum issues in terms of serving all students. We need to take a firm look at delivering instruction. I would hope the district would look at all children. If it’s not working, why do we keep doing it,” Holley said. “I think the role of the board is to ensure the policies and procedures are in place to improve achievement. They get paid for this. I expect them to do this work and if they can’t then we should find someone who can.”
Holley said she intends to represent all children, not only those in her district. This will include playing a key role in school reconfigurations in the East End, especially Westinghouse High School, which is not in her district.
“I want to look at what they’re doing in the east end. Westinghouse. I’ll be working with alumni and other interested groups to make sure things are running smoothly in the first few days. Even though we might not agree with it, it’s here and we have to deal with it,” Holley said. “I plan to represent the entire Pittsburgh community. I plan to put children first and that’s how I’ll be able to work with the board. I hope the budget cuts do not impact the classroom because the children are already not doing well academically. “
Meanwhile, Brentley can breathe easy in the face of naysayers who believed this would be the year the contentious representative would be ejected from the board. He beat out endorsed challenger Deloris Lewis, receiving 50 percent of the vote to her 20 percent. His other two challengers Arita Gilliam Rue and Lisa Freeman received 14 percent and 12 percent respectively.
“I won’t be doing too much differently if anything. I think I’ve been pretty mild in my opposition. Because of the conditions facing our children, I will turn the notches up even more. I will raise my voice even louder,” Brentley said. “My involvement will be to continue to advocate for equity. I’m talking about resources, equity, how we do business. We need to find a plan to even the playing field. I’m holding Dr. Lane accountable the same way I held Mark Roosevelt and that’s I want things to be equitable for all.”
Like Holley, Brentley thinks the board needs to take a closer look at the policies and procedures being mandated by district administrators in order to determine if they are working.
“The time is over for experimenting with these children,” Brentley said. “There are retired educators who can put these schools together. You’ve never had anyone to critically analyze what’s happened over the past five years, what’s worked and what hasn’t. We’re paying money for out of town consultants.”