Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ravenstahl Means Business

I think that's the message...

"Downtown is becoming the neighborhood that was the dream of Bob O'Connor," said Peter Sukernek, general manager and vice president of Howard Hanna Commercial, a unit of the region's largest real estate company. "He wanted to see Downtown be another city neighborhood, not just another Downtown that everybody leaves at night, and Mayor Ravenstahl has carried that on." (Trib, Boren & Spatter)

One could also reference the new tax-break legislation that is fighting its way through Council.

By way of comparison, last night Peduto for Pittsburgh put out a web blast on historic preservation to go with recent ones on sustainable buildings and drawn-out, methodical master planning.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

285 School Layoff Notices Go Out Early

"Knowledge is power," or so they say. Well, power to the people...

About 3 percent of the notices went to teachers with 10 or more years of service, including some in career and technology education fields. About 3 percent went to those with one year or less of service.

The largest number of notices went to elementary-certified teachers in kindergarten through sixth grade: 83, or 29 percent, of the notices. Among them are teachers who have a little more than seven years of service. (P-G, Eleanor Chute)

Do we have a plan for managing this unique adversity to our youngest people, aside from castigating Governor Tom Corbett? Will these layoffs amount to very much in the future of the present generation's children? How will those affected weather the storm? Are there any moves we can make to soften these blows? Or to unify our communities around demonstrating that restoring taxpayer funding to urban primary education is worthwhile and appropriate? Did Superintendent Linda Lane and PFT president Nina Esposito-Visgitis bond in Cincinatti? Is either the labor community or the foundation community in Pittsburgh happy fighting with each other?

Public Housing and Public-Private Constables for Public Safety

As long as we're waiting...

"If it's borne out that there was overbilling, that's clearly something that has to be addressed and addressed quickly," said Mr. Lamb, whose office oversees the authority. (P-G, Rich Lord)

The accounting-for-our-chainsaws angle is of course very important, but are we not also dealing with a fundamental Separate but Equal issue? Is that embedded in some way within the possible legal snafu?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend Schools Roundup

A little busy preparing to garland passionless mounds -- and perhaps attending a couple barbecues -- to put out the piece on teacher furloughs and Value-Added Measures you may have been lead to believe would be appearing today. Check back Tuesday, when more people traffic the blog anyway and this heat may have finally lifted.

Meanwhile, as a reminder / preview of still other issues facing Our School District, here are some links culled from the main online public schools forum hereabouts, PURE Reform.

A $500,000 contract for what is now a favored consultant, Success Schools, to help run King, Faison and Milliones.

School desegregation, which according to a New York Times article is "one tool that has been shown to work."

7:11 AM start times for many school students debated, in light of some research showing young people aren't at their best before the sun is higher in the sky.

Also within a fresh comment here from "PPS Parent": "I'd love to see you do a story on the # of administrative employees in our decreasing student population district." Easier said than done, but will try. The District says all of the RISE, VAM and other evaluative efforts thus far are furnished via targeted grant money: $90 million worth, for six years of it. Hard to believe there are not other costs being picked up by taxpayers, but will try to get a handle on the trajectory of general administrative overhead.

Finally, I'm continuing to hear conflicting accounts about whether these highfallutin' evaluations are being used to determine merit pay in the current contract. A+ Schools says yes, the PFT recently corrected that with an unequivocal "No," but the District insists yes, it's being used for what they call "Rewards and Recognition" -- $1.3 millions' worth they claim has already been disbursed to teachers based on RISE and VAM. Again, grant money, but it's in the contract. A contract forged between another Superintendent and another union president.

Happy Decoration Day!