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A+ Schools Seeks Volunteers To Assess Freshman Pittsburgh Public School Board

Education advocacy group A+ Schools is seeking members for its volunteer review board tasked with overseeing new board members representing Pittsburgh Public Schools.

With three new members sworn in, the Pittsburgh Public School Board has only two members who have served for more than two years. The other four were elected in 2013.

A+ Executive Director Carey Harris said volunteers are city residents prepped by the organization's staffers about current state and national policy.

"We walk through what are the indicators of good governance and how to recognize them when you see them," she said.

The volunteer review board awarded Pittsburgh's school board two consecutive D+ ratings in its most recent annual assessments. Deficiencies include role clarity, which refers to whether school board members are addressing their agenda items efficiently. 

“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from our volunteers that the board is not as strong on its policy making role, so we’re going to be specifically focused on three big areas,” she said, citing financial health, transparency and how board members measure student outcomes.

Harris said a school board that meets its performance benchmarks benefit students' collective school experience.

“Ultimately, we want to make sure kids are graduating. And they’re graduating ready for college and careers, that they’ve got at least a 2.5 GPA, they’re on track, they’re attending school regularly and that they’re meeting the state standards on the Keystone Exams,” she said.

Harris said about 150 volunteers have served in the group’s six-year history. Interested residents must commit to their role for at least six months and agree to attend at least one school board meeting a month. Applications are available online.