Top Stories ’11-’12: PPS Superintendent Dr.Linda Lane balances tough choices of today with optimism for the future

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Top Stories ’11-’12: PPS Superintendent Dr.Linda Lane balances tough choices of today with optimism for the future

Sarah Parker

Sarah Parker

Sarah Parker

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Pittsburgh Public Schools has been plagued by school closings, budget cuts, and a loss of students in recent years. For PPS Superintendent Dr.Linda Lane, it hasn’t been any easy time period, and yet, even though the district is suffering, it is comforting to know that there are still people out there who are looking out for the best interests of students, like Dr.Lane. Simply put, she is always looking at ways in which students can achieve more while also being on the cutting edge of technology

During an interview, Dr.Lane made note of new strategies, and said the district is looking to develop a way for us to be active readers in areas that might suit more students. For instance, many students have cell phones, iPods. iPads, tablets, or Kindles and Dr. Lane is looking at how PPS can mold this new technology in a way that will get students more interested in reading. “I think books are going to be replaced someday,” she noted.

Another way she’s looking to enhance the achievement of students is in a new program that’s underway called Empowering Effective Teachers (EET). EET was set up to support teachers’ professional development. “How can we support each other? We all want to improve,” she said.

Dr.Lane sees a classroom situation in which teachers are skilled in the latest techniques of how to instruct all types of learners, and students benefit greatly from the experience.. Pittsburgh has been recognized for its phenomenal teacher evaluation program (RISE) that was produced from EET. This new system is thanks to the willingness of  the school district and the teacher union to work together, something which is out of the ordinary in most districts. To Dr.Lane, the idea is all about producing world class students who are ready to go further.

In the area of financial troubles, Dr. Lane explained that the budget cuts are the result of a smaller number of students coming to PPS and a smaller ratio of money now coming from the state. Just this week, Governor Corbett announced that PPS will receive the same amount of funding next year as it has this year. But that’s not a positive to be happy about. “The problem is that with inflation, our costs keep rising,” she said. “ We still need to find money for the bills.”

 

Unfortunately, finding more money often has to come in the form of staff cuts and school closings. In particular, the closing of Langley is usually pinned on Dr. Lane but she said, “I hate closing down a school” but it cannot be prevented at this point. With more kids going to cyber school, charter schools, and private school, less and less students are actually showing up to PPS and” the district can’t afford any unnecessary spending with less funding from the state.” PPS faces more competition than ever and that competition has made for schools with smaller populations, something the district cannot afford in tough financial times.

On a more hopeful note, The Superintendent also made mention of building a curriculum across subject areas that will provide students with what they need for college and careers. This new curriculum, which is supposed to go into effect around 2014, focuses more on nonfiction reading, for example. In the area of reading specifically, preparing for SAT’s and real-world reading will be more of the goal.”The curriculum will focus on what we learn and how we learn it,” she said

. Dr. Lane is trying hard to do what’s best for Pittsburgh students even in difficult times. One hopes that her vision help make a brighter future for all of us.

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