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Education

Education Task Force Makes Recommendations on Public Safety, Community Schools and Funding

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Deanna Garcia
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90.5 WESA

A task force charged with examining and recommending changes for Pittsburgh Public Schools has released its report after a year of work. It focuses on five areas: public safety, out-of-school-time programming, community schools, school funding and marking the city’s schools.

A year ago, Mayor Bill Peduto said city and school officials were fighting about those issues. This report puts them on the same page.

“It’s a blueprint where the school board and Pittsburgh City Council can put resources behind a common goal, and we understand the lobbying needed in Harrisburg is on one single piece of paper,” said Peduto.

Pittsburgh School’s Superintendent Linda Lane said she is most looking forward to discussions on safety and community schools. That is a model in which community services are integrated into the school environment.

“It may be health services, it may be dental, it may be social services. Often it means having a way for families to support the work of the school social worker to connect families to agencies within the city they might need to be able to access,” said Lane.

Models vary by district, but Lane said it could be mobile vans that offer services at schools, or having set offices in schools. She said models are being talked about now, but there is no firm timeline in place. Lane also said marketing going forward will be key. That’s a sentiment echoed by a student member of the task force.

“To see the kind of reporting done on our schools really doesn’t justify what is going on inside of them, because there is much work going on and there’s so many positive stories, they’re just not being told to their full greatness,” said Stephen O’Brion, Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy student.

O’Brion said spreading the word about positive work of the schools will help attract and retain students.

School Board Director Terry Kennedy said working through the group’s recommendations and city and school officials working together will be critical for the city’s future.

“Without our children we don’t need schools and without our schools we don’t have a city, so we really want everybody,” said Kennedy. “That’s one of the reasons this task force is so important, because there is that tie-in, we can’t just be in separate silos.”

Now that the report has been released, the mayor and superintendent will meet regularly, and working groups will likely be formed to tackle each issue.