Ed Donovan, president of the Wilkinsburg school board, will happily tell anyone that the district is on the come-up.
“Four years ago we were running a negative $3.5 million balance. This year, we are ending the year with a $2-2.5 million surplus,” he said. “That’s a huge shift; we’re spending our money more wisely. We ended a lot of contracts with outside consultants with firms and services that weren’t contributing anything to our schools. We just hired an incredible superintendent (Linda Iverson) who’s just awesome. We searched and searched…She is the person to improve our schools.”
So with the May 16 primary elections fast approaching, Donovan obviously wants to stay on the board and continue, according to him, the upward shift.
A total of eight candidates are running for four open seats that hold a four-year term. One of those candidates, Ashley Comans, is running for the lone two-year term seat.
The incumbents are Donovan, LaTonya G. Washington, Debra Raubenstrauch and Ellen Kitzerow. Those vying for a first-time board seat are Comans, Charmaine Currin, Kathleen J. Wilson and Marcia L. Jones.
Leigh Corrigan-Owens, a current school board member, is not seeking reelection.
Current school board members whose seats are not up for reelection are Klara Brown (board vice-president), Joshua Miller, Kathy Firestine and Michael Johnson. Johnson is also running for Mayor of Wilkinsburg.
The Wilkinsburg school district for years has been a hotbed for controversy. A study released in June 2012 by the Commonwealth Foundation in Harrisburg labeled the Wilkinsburg school district the most violent in Pennsylvania, with a rate of 47.23 incidents per 100 students. In 2013-14, Wilkinsburg High School had the lowest School Performance Profile in Pennsylvania. And in 2016-17, students in grades 7-12 in the district began attending school at nearby Pittsburgh Westinghouse, as the board voted to close Wilkinsburg High School. Wilkinsburg currently has two elementary schools in its district, Kelly and Turner.