LORRAINE BURTON-EBERHARDT (Contributed)
After 12 years representing District 9 on the Pittsburgh Public School District Board of Directors, Floyd “Skip” McCrea will be stepping down. Running for the seat in the upcoming May 21 primary election are Lorraine Burton-Eberhardt, Carolyn Klug, and Dave Schuilenburg.
While the district represents schools in both the West End and the North Side, all three candidates come from the North Side. But that’s not where the similarities end.
At a candidate forum hosted by A+ Schools, all three candidates expressed opposition to out of school suspensions and other methods the district uses to discipline students.
“I’ve heard there are some schools where there is a detention class but there’s not even an adult in the room,” Schuilenburg said.
All three candidates said the district’s resources could be better handled. Burton-Eberhardt said she would do a time study to see where the district’s money was going. Schuilenburg said he would redistribute assets based on the individual needs of communities and schools
“We need to make sure funds are being used in schools and not on consultants,” Schuilenburg said.
When asked how they would attract students to the district, Klug said it was important to make the district’s schools as attractive or more attractive then charter schools.
CAROLYN KLUG (Photos by J.L. Martello)
“Magnets were the precursor to charter schools,” Klug said. “I think we need to revisit our magnets.”
The candidates also chimed in on the growing debate surrounding “teacher effectiveness.” Klug said the key to improving teachers is to work with them to determine what works in the classroom.
“The district needs to move back to professional development that reflects best practices,” Klug said.
Schuilenburg said the district should reward teachers who meet goals set out at the state level. Burton-Eberhardt said she would review teacher-hiring practices and review the union contract to make it easier to discharge a teacher.
Despite her background of serving 31 years in the district in positions ranging from teacher to principal, Burton-Eberhardt did not default to taking the sides of teachers and school administrators.
“I think the board members need to be more visible in the community, but I also think the schools need to do their part. Parents want to be involved but a lot of the time they’re not invited” Burton-Eberhardt said. “I’ve worked in all levels of the district so I know the ins and outs of the district.”
Klug also has more than 30 years of experience as an educator. She has also volunteered her time with the Girl Scouts of Western PA: Girls with Special Needs Committee and the Pittsburgh Symphony Educators Committee.
“I want to make sure all children have equal access to resources in the district and to make sure we get more resources for our district,” Klug said.
Unlike his two opponents, Schuilenburg isn’t a retired educator. He works as a 9-1-1 officer and trainer and is a founding member of the PA Freedom of Information Coalition.