For the first time 12 years, incumbent Floyd "Skip" McCrea isn't running for the District 9 seat on the Pittsburgh Public Schools board, leaving the field open to three newcomers.
The candidates are Lorraine Burton Eberhardt, 57, of Summer Hill; Carolyn Klug, 54, of Brighton Heights; and Dave Schuilenburg, 39, of Summer Hill.
All are running on the Democratic ballot in the May 21 primary. Ms. Klug also is running on the Republican ballot.
Using new boundaries drawn after the 2010 census, District 9 is on both sides of the Ohio River and includes all or parts of Fairywood, Windgap, Chartiers City, Esplen, Sheraden, Crafton Heights, Elliott, West End, Westwood, Oakwood, Ridgemont, Brighton Heights, Perry North and Summer Hill.
Ms. Eberhardt was a teacher and administrator in Pittsburgh Public Schools for more than 30 years, retiring as a principal in 2007 after going on sick leave as the school year began at Pittsburgh Woolslair K-5.
She is a member of the city Commission on Human Relations and on the board of the Northside Oldtimers Association, a community organization that provides activities.
Ms. Eberhardt, whose child graduated from Schenley, has three grandchildren in district schools.
Ms. Klug has worked as an instructional and residential aide at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children; an intake caseworker for then Children and Youth Services; a teacher in Pittsburgh Public Schools; and a teacher consultant for the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project.
Ms. Klug retired in 2011 due to asthma. Ms. Klug does not have children.
Mr. Schuilenburg is a full-time telecommunications officer II / communications training officer with the Allegheny County Department of Emergency Services, a part-time driver for Classy Cab and vice president of the Summer Hill Citizens Committee.
He is Pennsylvania director of Not All Dads Are Deadbeats and is a former SEIU 668 statewide 911 committee member for Allegheny County.
Mr. Schuilenburg's two children attend the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park, where he is on the executive committee of the parent-community committee.
Ms. Eberhardt said she is running because she is "concerned about the schools. They seem to be in great turmoil."
She said she is concerned that some teachers and administrators are not effective, that more school closings may be coming, that some children can't get to after-school programs, and the number of suspensions of black male students is too high and the graduation rate is too low.
New board members will have to work with Superintendent Linda Lane, whose contract recently was extended until June 30, 2016.
Ms. Eberhardt said she thought it was "fine" for the board to extend the contract.
"I don't want to speak up, not knowing. I'll just say it's OK. I'm not there. I don't know the finer details of things," she said.
School officials have forecast the district will run out of money in 2016 unless it changes course.
As to whether raising taxes would be one solution, Ms. Eberhardt said she thinks the budget needs to be "re-examined line item by line item" and "creative methods of securing outside funding" should be considered.
"If all else fails to supplement the budget, then a tax increase would be inevitable," she said.
Ms. Klug is running because she "still cared deeply about what's going on in our schools, what's going on with our children."
Ms. Klug also thinks it's fine that Ms. Lane's contract was extended, saying she thinks Ms. Lane "represents the district well."
Ms. Klug thinks there is too much of an emphasis on tests.
"I think we've lost our focus as educators because we're focused on high-stakes testing. We're not producing well-rounded children," she said.
She would like to see libraries full time in the schools as well as more counselors. She said more lobbying in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., could help provide the needed money.
As to whether taxes need to be raised, she said, "Not right at this moment. It might have to be, but not right now. I don't think we've explored all options."
Mr. Schuilenburg said he is running "because I still have two school-age kids ... I've been extremely concerned about many aspects of the school board, not only the way they conduct themselves but the overwhelming issue of the financial state of the school district."
He thinks there needs to be "proper separation of powers" between the board and the administration, saying some believe the board is "rubber stamp" for the administration.
Mr. Schuilenburg also is "fine" with the superintendent's contract extension, noting stability is a plus when at least four school board seats will be filled by newcomers.
Of Ms. Lane, he said, "I think she's been doing a great job. Unlike her predecessor [Mark Roosevelt], she has been trying to bring people to the table."
As to finances, Mr. Schuilenburg said it is time for the city to begin giving back the portion of the earned income tax that the state shifted from the school district to the city in 2007 when the city was in financial trouble.
Asked whether he would favor raising taxes, he said, "I believe there's support for that even in the community."
According to the county, Mr. Schuilenburg is current on his county property taxes but owes $756.67 to the school district and $713.26 to the city, both for 2011 and 2012 combined. He also owes $15.13 for the library tax in 2012.
Mr. Schuilenburg said he faced costly legal fees from a divorce and is working to pay the back taxes gradually.
"I merely acted responsibly and prioritized my reduced and limited finances," he said, noting the top priority was basic needs for himself and his children, followed by paying the attorney, then by paying his other debts in installments.
Education writer Eleanor Chute: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1955.