With Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Linda Lane planning to propose school closings next month, board member Regina Holley said some communities already have lost too many schools.
"They can't take it any more," Ms. Holley told the superintendent Thursday at a meeting of an advisory group that includes parents, educators and community members.
"Communities are really going to be looking at the equity piece here. If it's going to hurt, it's going to have to hurt somebody else now."
Exactly which schools Ms. Lane will propose for closing isn't expected to be announced until next month when a report with wide-ranging recommendations for addressing the district's financial and academic problems is released.
The final decision will be up to the board. Ms. Holley and four candidates likely to join the board in December attended the meeting.
"I would hope you get the whole story before you decide what you're going to do," Ms. Lane said.
Ms. Lane said the recommendations will be a series of options, open to community discussion and from which the board can choose the ones it wants.
The advisory group has been providing input on the district's $2.4 million envisioning process. Foundation money is paying for consultants.
The main topic of the meeting was school quality. Ms. Lane said the district needs to focus on both instructional and socio-emotional goals.
On the instructional goals, she focused on reading proficiency by third grade, algebra in middle school, and Promise readiness in high school, which refers to meeting the standards for Pittsburgh Promise college scholarships.
Ms. Lane wants to provide more training for teachers on the best ways to teach reading in kindergarten and grades 1-3. She said the district already has teachers who are expert at this and could help others.
She said she wants more algebra in grades 6-8 because algebra is a gateway course to higher education and many careers. She noted it is the top failed course in ninth grade.
"It doesn't mean we're not going to have science or art. It does mean we have to narrow our focus," she said.
She said socio-emotional skills are important as well as academics, so she included goals such as learning character traits in elementary school; citizenship and self-discipline in middle school; and college and career preparedness in high school.
She noted other potential improvements, such as clearer relationships between schools and partner organizations.
In addition to concerns over school closings, some feedback from advisory group members included improving the sharing of effective teaching across schools, conducting a needs assessment for each school, adding more music and art, decreasing class sizes and increasing lobbying for the state to better fund education.
Education writer Eleanor Chute: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1955. First Published October 17, 2013 8:00 PM