THREE MORE YEARS—The Pittsburgh School Board extended Superintendent Linda Lane’s contract for three more years.
Last week Pittsburgh Public Schools unveiled a new district website, changing the way parents, teachers, and students access information. But some things in the district won’t be changing in the near future. On March 20, the Board of Education voted to extend PPS Superintendent Linda Lane’s contract for three more years.
“As we continue to evolve into a district of first choice for families, I am privileged to have been leading the Pittsburgh Public Schools in such a time of change,” said Lane in a press release. “I am honored to continue to serve the students and families of Pittsburgh, a place I now call home.”
The board’s 7-1-1 vote will leave Lane in charge of the district until June 2016. According to the release, Lane decided to keep her salary at $200,000, but by 2016, if she chooses to accept yearly increases, her salary could increase to a maximum of $265,000.
“I’m glad the board decided to extend it,” said District 1 Rep. Sharene Shealey, the board’s president. “She has really led us in moving forward with ensuring all our students are getting the same quality education. The equity plan is really key to that and it’s the first time we’ve had that. She’s worked really well with the advocates for African-American students on what the district should be doing with the equity plan.”
While Shealey touted the district’s Equity: Getting to All Plan, designed to increase student achievement among African-Americans, District 2 Rep. Regina Holley, who abstained from voting said the plan doesn’t go far enough. But despite her apprehensions over Lane, Holley said failures in the district are also due to the board not working as a team.
“Even though I did abstain, I will be working with (Lane) to improve achievement,” Holley said. “I’m not going to sit back and not participate; I’m definitely going to do everything I can and I will support her.”
Holley was critical of decreasing student achievement over the past year, but she was also focused on teachers and personnel. She said hiring and firing of teachers in the district isn’t always equitable and has requested evaluation measures for administrative staff in the district’s central office.
“Because of the way we’re moving forward in the district I had requested that we have an accountability system for all personnel, not just school based personnel, because the school based personnel don’t have a lot of control over what happens,” Holley said. “I believe the superintendent is a good person, she wants the best for the children, but I think everyone needs to be held to the same standard.”
Others praised Lane’s efforts to reduce district expenditures in hopes of averting fiscal crisis in 2015. According to District 4 Rep. Bill Isler, the board’s second vice president, the budget for the last fiscal year produced a surplus.
“I’m absolutely delighted. I think Dr. Lane has really tackled the issues the district faces,” Isler said. “Achievement is very paramount to her and with the whole fiscal situation I think her ability to reduce cost is a testament to her ability.”
District 8 Rep. Mark Brentley who was the lone no vote said he would’ve liked the board to extend Lane’s contract for six months and then let the board reconsider extending the contract next January. He reasoned that four board members are not running for reelection this year. A change in four board members could lead to a drastically different board with different views on the direction of the district.