TRADITION has a strong hold on Pittsburgh and it's hard to run away from that cultural fact, even when it makes sense to break from the past. That was the challenge for the Pittsburgh Public Schools board when it voted Wednesday by the barest margin, 5-4, to put the former Schenley High School in Oakland up for sale. The building, constructed in 1916 and closed in 2008, has many happy memories for those who studied or taught there, but it also has major problems, including asbestos, and the estimate for repairs is $76.2 million, which admittedly is a controversial figure. In a district that is consolidating, not growing, selling the building for several million dollars makes more sense, hard as it is to accept.
PITTBURGH'S landmark buildings and topography will unfold before the runners in the Great Race this morning, but another way to see them is to go to the movies. Two new movies set in Pittsburgh have just opened in theaters. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is directed by Stephen Chbosky, an Upper St. Clair native who put his 1999 novel on the screen. It's about the growing pains of teenagers in the Pittsburgh of the early 1990s. "Won't Back Down" is about a fictional public school in the Hill District where the education is poor, causing two parents to try to take over the school. The union teachers are the villains in this tale, which was filmed in various schools in the Pittsburgh region.