Wednesday, September 8, 2010

PPS Board Earns a B-

The non-profit A+ Schools has released its latest report card on the Pittsburgh Public School Board. Executive Director Carey Harris says about 20 volunteers observed and took notes at meetings in May, June and July 2010. She says the board is graded on five indicators of good governance and says they're on the right track, noting improvements in focus on mission, conduct and competency--where board members come to the meetings prepared and use good information to inform their decisions. But she says they've gone down in the "role clarity" category. Harris says "this is a policy making board, so we would expect they would be setting the direction of the district in planning for the future...and what our volunteers have told us is that they don't see much policy making. They see the board sort of responding to a packed agenda full of transactions, but not much policy making." Harris says they've made specific recommendations to the board for improving role clarity, including referencing policy when creating the agenda, maintaining a list of policy issues to be revisited and updated and setting a piece of their board meeting agenda aside to discuss policy issues. Harris says the board should be thinking about policy around certain issues -- for example, "minority and women business enterprise hiring, or student reassignment. They could think about their goal and set some parameters about how they're going to achieve it. And decide how they're going monitor whether or not it's happening." More information on the report card can be found at

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