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Study: Vulnerable schools have unstable staffing

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By Bill Zlatos
Thursday, June 13, 2013, 11:45 p.m.

Staffing is more unstable at the most vulnerable schools in the Pittsburgh Public district, according to a study released Thursday by watchdog group A+ Schools.

“There are things we're encouraged by and things that are disconcerting,” said Carey Harris, executive director of A+ Schools. “We're concerned about how you run a good school when you have a lot of staff turnover every year.”

The A+ Schools group defines the most vulnerable schools as those with the greatest share of low-income students, the biggest racial achievement gap and low overall achievement.

The study, based on a survey of 49 principals from city schools and 14 from suburban schools, found that 20 percent of full-time teachers across the city district were new to their building in the 2012-2013 school year, with the most vulnerable schools more likely to have a greater percentage of new teachers and long-term substitute teachers than other schools.

District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh did not return a call for comment.

The report did find that high school students have greater access to advanced, career and technical education classes. Most Pittsburgh schools offered as much or more art and music last year and more frequently than did some suburban schools serving students in K-8.

However, nearly one in three schools did not have all required textbooks by the start of the school year, and some middle and high schools do not allow students to bring books home for fear that they will not return them.

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

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