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Volunteers Needed to Interview Pittsburgh Public School District Principals

The education watchdog group A+ Schools is looking for volunteers who will help the organization conduct interviews with Pittsburgh Public School District principals this February.

It will be the fourth year of the "School Works" interviews for A+ Schools, which organizes the data it gathers into a report each spring. Past years have seen the group hold talks with teachers and guidance counselors as well as principals.

A+ Schools Executive Director Carey Harris said elementary and K-8 school principals will be included in the interviews for the first time this year. She said the topics of discussion generally fall under three main categories: budgeting, equal opportunities for students, and the district's Empowering Effective Teachers program.

"The most important [topic] is how well schools are dealing with smaller budgets," said Harris. "They have smaller budgets this year. That really impacted every school in the district, and so we wanted to be able to have volunteers talk to elementary and K-8 principals about how they're grappling with budgets, in addition to how high school and middle school principals are doing."

Harris said past interviews with faculty have indicated that both teachers and principals approve of the Empowering Effective Teachers program. The initiative rewards high-performing teachers and fires ineffective ones, while also providing courses for educators to improve their work.

A+ Schools is looking for a total of 200 volunteers to interview principals in groups of three. Volunteers must take part in a few hours of training, offered at various times beginning January 16. To sign up, visit the group's website or call (412) 697-1298.