ShareThis Page
News

Council supports school system study

| Wednesday, July 31, 2002, 12:00 p.m.

Pittsburgh City Council members on Tuesday backed Mayor Tom Murphy's plan to have a commission examine the city's public school system.

Council President Gene Ricciardi called for a commission that is not "elitist," but "reflective of the community," including teachers, students, parents, administrators and taxpayers.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools have been in the spotlight because of academic problems, high taxes and a rift in the school board. The commission is charged with studying the district's operations and to make recommendations for improvement, specifically in financial management, academic achievement and governance.

Council's vision parallels Murphy's intent for the commission to be "drawn from every part of this community."

Murphy announced the commission formation July 23, naming as co-chairmen David Matter, president and chief operating officer of Oxford Development Co., and William Trueheart, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation. He will announce as many as 35 additional members by Aug. 14.

Council's resolution sought to specifically include taxpayers who may not have children in the city's schools but have an interest because of high school taxes they pay.

Ricciardi said high school taxes are causing people to move out of the city and into communities with better school systems.

"It really burns me up that people are moving out of the city," Councilman Bob O'Connor said. "Imagine if we had the best public school system: people would flock here."

Murphy formed the commission after the school district lost nearly $3.8 million in support from The Pittsburgh Foundation and two other philanthropies — the Heinz Endowments and the Grable Foundation — because of divisions between the school board's two factions and between its majority faction and Superintendent John Thompson.

O'Connor said parents, teachers, students, taxpayers and council members are fed up with the board's quarreling and inaction.

"Where it goes from here is entirely up to the school board," O'Connor said. "If the nine of them start working together, we win. Not we, our kids."

In a separate attempt to mend the situation, O'Connor and Councilman Alan Hertzberg called on the council last month to pass a resolution asking the state Legislature to expand the board from nine to 13 members, with four new members appointed by a 12-member commission.

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.

click me