Sunday, October 18, 2015

Two things to think about with Pittsburgh's next Superintendent of Schools

The first thing we need from a new superintendent is an approach that supports school and community sports. I'll devote a different post to that topic. Here is another set of insights that we should put high on the list.

I think that the new superintendent needs to understand buildings, building schools, and building school culture as applied to the buildings that they reside within.

I hate to write this as I am generally a "software" kind-a guy who stresses the PROGRAMS and not worried about the the "hardware" and the bricks and mortar. The buildings take a back seat to the teachers, the school culture, the education and the dynamic learning that can and should happen. But golly, in Pittsburgh, we got issues with old buildings and bad decisions within the buildings and huge capital overhead that is not helping to retain our sense of pride and scholarship that should be happening.

I get to go to a lot of school buildings as we travel around with sports programs. Our city facilities are weak. Sure, CAPA is sweet. But, as I see CAPA, I hate that it is grades 6-12 rather than just 9-12.

Westinghouse & Carrick got nice upgrades not too long ago, but have you seen what has been done at many suburban districts? BP, Lebo, Penn Hills, Baldwin, West Allegheny, USC, etc. And the schools we have visited elsewhere beyond W.Pa are sensational.

In terms of taxpayer interest, the school and capital questions should loom large for a superintendent search process. Managing a building project and construction teams is way beyond the comfort zone of what's in place now. And, PPS can't even get a penny on the dollar for its existing and non-utilized facilities.

PPS made some serious, generational mistakes with Schenley, with South Vo Tech and many other building and grounds assets.

I think the new superintendent should be able to point to their professional history and say that these X-Y-Z schools were rehabed, re-build, opened, and construction was managed flawlessly for the course of these multi-year efforts. And, I want to get construction firm testimonials with lots of documentation and critical review on those mega projects.

Above rant began at the Facebook group:

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