Pittsburgh school board elects Shealey as next president

| Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 6:38 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board on Monday night elected Sharene Shealey, a graduate of the district with three daughters in city schools, as its president.

Shealey, 40, of North Point Breeze is an air quality manager for GenOn Energy Inc. in Canonsburg. She was elected to the board in 2009 and represents District 1, which includes Homewood, East Hills and parts of East Liberty and Shadyside.

“In my core, I know that every kid can have an education that not only prepared them for college, but success in life,” said Shealey, praising her education at three now-closed schools: Friendship, Rogers CAPA and Peabody High School.

Shealey becomes the second black woman to lead the board since it switched from an appointed to elected body.

She has a bachelor's degree from Howard University in Washington and a master's from Carnegie Mellon University, both in chemical engineering.

The board elevated Shealey from first vice president by a 6-3 vote. Board members Theresa Colaizzi, Jean Fink, Sherry Hazuda, William Isler and Floyd “Skip” McCrea supported her. Mark Brentley, Sr., Regina Holley and Thomas Sumpter voted for Holley.

Hazuda nominated Shealey to replace her as president.

“She's a Pittsburgh Public Schools graduate, obviously very intelligent. She's decisive. She has all the good qualities we need now,” Hazuda said.

Shealey expressed a desire to heal division within the board.

“We all have the same goals, but there are many opinions on how to get there,” she said, declining to elaborate on how she would bring the board together.

One of her first challenges is how to address the district's financial troubles. The board is scheduled to vote on Dec. 19 on an operating budget of $521.8 million for 2013. But if nothing else changes, the district expects to be $16.6 million in the red by 2017 because of declining enrollment, less state and federal support, the popularity of charter schools and mushrooming pension costs.

Shealey expressed confidence in the district's ability to overcome the challenges.

“I know the district can be an integral part in the growth of the city,” she said.

The board elected Sumpter as first vice president and Isler as second vice president.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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