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Pittsburgh Public Schools board approves 5-year contract with new superintendent

Wayne Walters’ promotion caps a decades-long career with PPS that began in 1991, with a teaching position at King Elementary School on the North Side.
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Wayne Walters’ promotion caps a decades-long career with PPS that began in 1991, with a teaching position at King Elementary School on the North Side.

Pittsburgh Public Schools board members unanimously approved longtime district administrator Wayne Walters Wednesday as the district's next superintendent.

Walters's contract runs through July 2027, which would be his 36th year with the district, his sole employer.

He’s inheriting issues that have plagued Pennsylvania’s second-largest school district, including declining enrollment, poor staff morale, a wide achievement gap between Black and white students, and discipline issues that disproportionately impact students of color and students with disabilities.

Starting Aug. 1, Walters will be paid $260,000 annually with a 3 percent increase in the second year and a 4 percent increase in the following three years. He will be provided a district security vehicle, and a designated school police officer will drive Walters.

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School district solicitor Ira Weiss called the contract “fair” and similar to previous contracts with district superintendents.

Walters has been in place as interim superintendent since October 2021, when former superintendent Anthony Hamlet stepped down. Hamlet accepted improper travel reimbursements, a violation of the state’s ethics law. Walters’ contract states he will be reimbursed for mileage for out-of-district travel and “district-related expenses with receipts.”

According to a district press release, the contract also addresses “issues that have arisen in the district over the past several years.” The contract prohibits relationships with for-profit educational technology companies and ensures that honorariums paid to Walters follow the state’s ethics commission rules.

During an event last week when board president Sala Udin announced the board’s intention to hire Walters, Udin noted that there would be a full swearing-in ceremony at a later time per state law.

“The board has complete confidence in Dr. Walters,” Udin said in a release. “The reputation he has earned among teachers, administrators, students, and parents alike over his three decades in the district speaks volumes.”

Udin said that he sees Walters’ appointment as a “reset period” for the district and an opportunity for “recommitment to public education in Pittsburgh.”

District keeps changed start times

The board also approved keeping school day start- and end-time schedules that started last year.

Board member Pam Harbin voted against the schedule, while board member Kevin Carter abstained from the vote.

The schedule was adjusted in 2021 because of transportation issues. The district was short on drivers and modified start and end times so drivers could make multiple staggered trips.

High schoolers start school earlier, and elementary school students start later, which contradicts developmental recommendations.

While Walters said the district is not in the same position it was in last year and expects to be able to transport all of its students when the school year begins, the schedules have remained the same.

Harbin said Wednesday that she was pleased that Walters said he would reconsider the schedule for next year.