Pittsburgh Public board again delays student return to in-school learning, calls on district to survey needs

Pittsburgh Public students won’t return to brick-and-mortar school buildings until April 6 at the earliest, following a decision by the school board Wednesday evening and a two-day, 127-speaker public hearing in the days leading up to the decision. 

The board approved a resolution in a 7-2 vote, following amendments, to keep students at home in remote learning through the beginning of the school year’s fourth quarter. Board members Sala Udin and Devon Taliaferro voted against the amended resolution, signaling a desire to bring students and teachers back sooner than April. Board members Pam Harbin and Terry Kennedy presented an amended version of the original resolution at Wednesday’s meeting, which had more than 1,000 stream viewers, with additions to address transportation challenges and growing student needs. Among the changes to the resolution:

The district is expected to conduct a current survey of student needs for support, transportation availability, staffing levels and building health and safety protocols. A parent/guardian survey will be circulated on or before Feb.

‘By the Book’ PGH K-12 Bulletins: Board considering another delay to Pittsburgh students returning to school

Welcome to "By The Book: PGH K-12 Bulletins," which provides updates on emerging and ever changing news in the Pittsburgh K-12 education landscape. With more than 40 school districts across Allegheny County, the Bulletins will update you on the region's latest education news, including close coverage of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, other Allegheny County school districts, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and other important agencies, which serve thousands of Pittsburgh families. Please check back frequently and email tylisa@publicsource.org with questions, tips or Bulletin ideas. Follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #PGHed for news updates on Pittsburgh education. 1/20/21: Another in-person instruction delay on the table for PPS
It may be April before Pittsburgh Public students see the inside of school buildings again.

Five ways COVID-19 will continue to change Pittsburgh college life this spring

With COVID-19 cases rising following the holidays and an expected lengthy vaccine rollout, Pittsburgh-area colleges and universities are bracing for another difficult semester. How things will look for students and faculty this spring will be informed by lessons from the fall. “The whole thing has been a real challenge for everybody, but I believe that the response from the students and the faculty and the administration has really made the best of this particular time,” said Susan O’Rourke, faculty senate chair at Carlow University. Colleges are readjusting schedules to start the spring semester later, expanding COVID-19 testing, asking for student input on the fall semester and creating connections with classmates and professors — both online and in-person. Meanwhile, they face challenges like tighter budgets and deflated enrollment. 

The University of Pittsburgh, for instance, has been monitoring case metrics and advice from health officials in deciding when to bring thousands of students back to campus.

Pittsburgh Public passes 2021 budget without a tax increase. Here are 3 key takeaways.

With the weight of an unprecedented year on their shoulders amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Pittsburgh Public Schools board decided against a proposed property tax increase and adopted a $673.84 million school budget for 2021 on Wednesday. The district will keep its millage rate at 9.95 in the upcoming year. However, with that vote, the budget deficit is expected to grow by about $4 million, Chief Financial Officer Ronald Joseph said at the meeting. In remarks to the board at the top of the budget discussion, Superintendent Anthony Hamlet asked the group to consider the tax increase to 10.21 mills and said that it was just one strategy of a multi-pronged approach by the administration to address a $34.8 million deficit — now increased by $4 million without the tax increase. The plan includes reducing expenditures. 

Much was at stake in the 2021 budget.

Some University of Pittsburgh's students, faculty and alumni are upset that it accepted $4.2 million in funding from the Charles Koch Foundation for a new center to study politics, markets and technology.

Higher-ed reporting gets a boost in Pittsburgh as part of partnership between PublicSource and Open Campus

Pittsburgh’s nonprofit newsroom PublicSource and the national Open Campus network are partnering to ensure a watchful eye remains on higher education in Southwestern Pennsylvania when it matters the most. The coronavirus pandemic is derailing students’ education plans, imperiling their health, safety and employment prospects. The uncertainties created by the pandemic have also put pressure on higher-ed institutions, from how students and employees return to campus to how colleges and universities respond to their fluctuating finances. At the same time, the region will be looking to its colleges to help it recover. As new challenges arise, PublicSource and Open Campus recognize the Pittsburgh region needs a dedicated higher-ed reporter.

SUBMITTED Bayne library

From wizards to mentoring, Allegheny County’s public libraries are vital, sometimes noisy spaces

Established in 1994, the Allegheny County Library Association has 46 member libraries over 70 locations, including 19 branches in Pittsburgh. The organization brought the county’s independent libraries together with the city to help them stay relevant. Today, many of them are vibrant learning spaces for adults and children alike. To highlight the changing and varied roles libraries play for residents, PublicSource explored how four libraries serve their unique communities.