‘By the Book’ PGH K-12 Bulletins: County announces new head of Department of Children Initiatives

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. 5/25/21: Allegheny County names first director of Department of Children Initiatives
A new Allegheny County director is tasked with better preparing children for success, especially in communities in which preschool and after-school programs have long fallen short.

Crayons beside child coloring.

‘The strongest lifeline’: Districts struggle to find Allegheny County’s homeless students as COVID increased distance and needs

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These days, Christina Russell and her daughter, Mareica Anderson, are busy unpacking their new home. It’s a brighter time for the duo, who faced housing insecurity living in Pittsburgh during the fall months of 2020 amid the COVID pandemic. “We had to go from a house to a shelter to a shelter to another shelter, you know what I mean, until we found our place where she was comfortable,” said Russell, 41. When school began in the fall, Russell did everything she could to keep her daughter engaged and feeling a sense of normalcy despite changing living environments. “Well, I didn't really let it affect her,” Russell said.

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.

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.

Pittsburgh school board rejects Imani Christian Academy’s bid to become a charter school

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board voted unanimously on Feb. 27 to deny a charter that would have transformed Imani Christian School in East Hills into the secular Imani Academy charter school.

The vote at the board’s legislative meeting follows a report earlier this month by the district’s charter review committee that found Imani’s charter application did not include all of the information required under Pennsylvania’s Charter School Law.