Councilman: Not enough black voters for three seats on Pittsburgh school board
Black voters in Pittsburgh could lose their hold on three school board seats in Pittsburgh Public Schools because of population shifts the past decade.
City Councilman Ricky Burgess warned the School District Reapportionment Commission at its meeting Tuesday night that there are not enough black voters to have three traditionally black seats on the school board. He suggested two predominantly black seats.
Burgess is one of two black councilmen in the city, and its districts are being redrawn, too.
The School District Reapportionment Commission called the meeting in the John P. Robin Civic Building, Downtown, to discuss the possible impact of the 2010 census on the boundaries of the nine school board districts.
Under state law, the commission must redraw district boundaries every 10 years. The goal is to make the districts about the same size in population, compact and contiguous and to promote racial balance.
“The majority of students that are actually in Pittsburgh Public Schools are of African-American descent,” said board member Regina Holley in urging the commission to try to keep three traditionally black seats on the board. She is black and represents District 2, where most of the residents are white.
Since 1985, black board members have represented Districts 1, 3 and 8. Sharene Shealey represents District 1; Thomas Sumpter, District 3; and Mark Brentley Sr., District 8.
Shealey did not attend the meeting but said previously that she favored keeping the three traditionally black seats.
“It would change the racial balance of the board,” she said, if the number of traditionally black seats was reduced to two.
Between 2000 and 2010, the proportion of black residents has declined from 56 percent to 49 percent in District 1, from 60 percent to 51 percent in District 3 and from 59 percent to 55 percent in District 8, according to unofficial figures from Burgess' office. None of the districts has a majority of black residents old enough to vote.
“I just don't like the assumption because you're of a certain race, you're going to vote this way,” Sumpter said, citing Holley's election.
At the start of the meeting, the commission voted unanimously to count residents who identified themselves as being partly black, as being black for the purposes of redrawing the new borders. In 2010, voters could identify themselves as being one or a combination of six races, an option that was not available in 2000.
Commission co-chairman Wayne Gerhold said the panel plans on finishing the new map by the end of November.
Shealey, Sumpter, Theresa Colaizzi, Jean Fink and Floyd “Skip” McCrea are up for re-election next year.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McCullers’, McLendon’s prowess in clogging trenches crucial to Steelers defense
- Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
- Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
- Reds solve Cole, stave off Pirates’ 9th-inning rally
- After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
- Rainy summer delays paving projects in New Kensington
- Former South Park coach Loughran optimistic about Fox Chapel’s prospects
- O’Neil jumps right in to AD duties at Kiski Area
- Porter’s passion for discus places him among nation’s best throwers
- Winfield Community Park restroom project stalls over high contractor bids
- Penguins not alone in top-heavy approach to salary cap