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Meeting On 'Educational Emergency' In Pittsburgh Public Schools Hits Snag After Cancellations

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - In February, Pittsburgh City Council introduced a resolution to declare an "educational emergency."

In the last six months, public hearings were held, and discussions took place on what steps the city can take to help the school district.

On Wednesday, the discussion was to continue with the Board of Education, Superintendent Anthony Hamlet and the teachers union president, but the BOE and superintendent canceled. The meeting went on with just the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.

"Is there a crisis? Absolutely. The first thing we need to do is admit it, talk about it and work together to make things better," said Nina Esposito-Visgitis, president of the PFT.

Councilman Daniel Lavelle is one of the leaders behind this partnership. He saw how his own children struggled during the pandemic and wants to find solutions to catch kids up.

"We know some of the issues happen before kids get to school, some issues happen after leaving the school and there are gaps in the summer, all these types of issues," Lavelle said.

Not all problems have one solution. Some suggestions brought up by the union include implementing and investing in more community school models. This concept will turn a school into the center point of a neighborhood with help for the kids and adults.

"In your opinion, what is holding the district back from really being able to ramp up those community schools' model?" Lavelle said

"Money, we need to be able to afford," Esposito-Visgitis said.

Other ideas hit a halt due to the money question, too. The idea of year-round school to catch up on learning isn't doable since the majority of PPS buildings don't have air conditioning.

A district spokesperson told KDKA the board and the superintendent will be in attendance at the next meeting.

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