Pittsburgh Public Schools plan for new leader

Lane expected to be named superintendent

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The Pittsburgh Public Schools board plans to hire Deputy Superintendent Linda Lane to replace Superintendent Mark Roosevelt, who is leaving at the end of the year, board President Sherry Hazuda announced Wednesday.

The nine-member body will vote on Monday on a contract.

"I can tell you that it was clear from the beginning that Dr. Lane was the best person for the position," Ms. Hazuda said.

"I'm pledging to the community that I'll give it my very best," said Dr. Lane, 60, of Highland Park. "I know we'll have some tough stuff ahead."

Since October, when Mr. Roosevelt announced that he planned to take the post of president at Antioch College, the board has been faced with deciding whether to promote from within or to conduct a national search.

The board discussed hiring a search firm, but chose not to, Ms. Hazuda said. During the past two months, they kept mum on the details of the selection, never naming potential candidates.

But there was widespread speculation that Dr. Lane, deputy superintendent of instruction, assessment and accountability, would be named to the position. The board did not interview anyone else, said Ms. Hazuda.

At a public hearing last month, several local activists charged that the process had been opaque. "Please keep the public informed every step of the way," said Black Political Empowerment Project Chairman Tim Stevens.

Ms. Hazuda said she was confident that the board had made the right choice, though.

"What would be the point of spending the money to do the search when what we wanted was right here?" Ms. Hazuda said. "We truly worked through every possibility."

Dr. Lane, who joined the district in 2007, is among several administrators here who have been instrumental in developing and executing school improvement initiatives. She is currently the second in command.

The contract that the board plans to vote on Monday offers her the position of superintendent for three years, raising her current salary of about $163,000 to $200,000 the first year, with an option for $15,000 more each year.

Dr. Lane said that if the decision to make her superintendent is finalized, she wants to continue the work Mr. Roosevelt began, including the nascent Empowering Effective Teachers initiative -- which will provide performance-based pay for new teachers and create teacher training academies -- and the Pittsburgh Promise, which works to prepare students for college and gives scholarships to those who meet certain criteria.

"We're just getting started," she said.

Dr. Lane said she also wants to continue to try to close the achievement gap between black and white students.

"I think the groundwork has been made," she said. "And we do want to take it to a different level."

Born in Morgantown, W.Va., Dr. Lane lived in Des Moines, Iowa, for most of her life. Her father was the first black assistant superintendent of the Des Moines Public Schools.

Dr. Lane started teaching elementary school in 1971, briefly in Iowa City, and later in the Des Moines Public Schools. She stayed in Des Moines for about three decades, serving as deputy superintendent of the school system from 2003 through 2006.

She completed her doctorate at Drake University while working full-time, writing a dissertation focused on six Des Moines children titled, "Disproportionate Suspension of African-American Male Middle School Students."

When one of the boys she was interviewing had two teeth knocked out playing basketball, she paid $250 out of pocket and solicited donations to cover his dental work, driving him to the office herself, according to the Des Moines Register.

Dr. Lane also attended the Broad Superintendents Academy, a prestigious 10-month training program for aspiring leaders in public school systems. Both she and Mr. Roosevelt graduated from the academy in 2003.

In 2006, Dr. Lane was a finalist for superintendent of schools in Des Moines. She was not chosen for the job.

"I was just hurt to my heart," Dr. Lane told the Des Moines Register in 2007. "It's not often your failures get played out on television. ... It took me a little time to pull myself together. But I did."

Several months later, she was appointed deputy superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, picked at Mr. Roosevelt's request.

Dr. Lane was one of five candidates a search committee interviewed earlier this year for Iowa's top education post, but when Gov. Chet Culver offered her the job in September -- before Mr. Roosevelt announced his resignation -- she turned it down.

"Given the fact that there are still things I have committed to finishing here and that [Iowa] wanted me to start immediately, I couldn't take the job," she said at the time.

Mr. Roosevelt announced the following month that he planned to leave at the end of the year to become president of Antioch College in Ohio.

Dr. Lane will be charged with continuing his efforts to overhaul teaching and curriculum here, a project still in its early stages.

But while the two share goals, Dr. Lane likely will have a different style, she said.

"I tell people we may look a lot alike, but we are different," she joked, characterizing Mr. Roosevelt as more inclined toward the big picture and herself as more inclined toward logistics.

"I really very much like to dig through data, lay all the elements of a problem or issue on the table, and do some relative analysis of costs and benefits," Dr. Lane said.

She thinks wistfully as her days as a teacher, though.

"The best days are the days you can leave Bellefield," she said, referring to the board of education's location in Oakland, "and actually go touch kids."

Vivian Nereim: vnereim@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1413.


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