Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Community Group Evaluates Board of Education

The Pittsburgh Public School Board received an overall ‘B’ report card from A+ Schools Board Watch. The program uses volunteers who have observed public school board meetings for the past year to issue grades in areas such as transparency, role clarity, conduct, focus and mission.

The Board Watch began two years ago and this year issued Pittsburgh Public Schools their best overall grade yet.

A+ Schools Executive Director Carey Harris says the most recognizable result of the school boards growth is the increased public turnout for meetings.

“We’ve seen that we’ve probably pulled out over 300 people coming to school board meetings over the last two years that otherwise wouldn’t have been there so more people in the public and the community are paying attention to the school board governance and realize how important it is for outcomes of the children and the district as a whole,” Harris says.

She said she was excited for the improvement in the school boards organization and transparency but believes the group could do a better job recognizing role clarity.

"It's really about serving their role as policy makers; setting and monitoring policies that improve the district's outcomes. They always are responding to packets with 60 to 70 agenda items that are basically transactional, and we'd like them to spend less time doing that and more time on the big picture for the district."

The school board received its first A- in Transparency, a C+ in Role Clarity, a B- in focus and mission, a B in conduct, and a B- in competency. The overall grade rose from a B- in 2009 to a B in 2010.

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