City school board votes to appoint Lane superintendent
December 14, 2010 5:00 AM
By Bill Schackner Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pittsburgh Board of Public Education Monday selected Linda Lane, the No. 2 ranking city school administrator, as the district's new superintendent.
Dr. Lane, 60, will take the helm of the district of approximately 25,300 students on Jan. 1. The vote Monday night was 8-1.
She succeeds Mark Roosevelt, who was the superintendent for more than five years. In October, he announced he was leaving Pittsburgh at the end of this month to become president of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Her appointment makes her the first black woman to serve as permanent superintendent of Pittsburgh schools.
Dr. Lane is deputy superintendent of instruction, assessment and accountability and was picked by Mr. Roosevelt four years ago.
Dr. Lane received a standing ovation from school board members following Monday night's vote.
"We are very, very lucky to have you," board President Sherry Hazuda told Dr. Lane.
"She's talented. She's open-minded. She will listen to people. She is solution-oriented," Ms. Hazuda said later in discussing why she considered Dr. Lane the obvious choice. "I've never heard her raise her voice."
Board member Bill Isler said the district has "gained a phenomenal leader tonight. You are the right person."
It would be "hypocritical, contradictory [and] selfish to vote for anything other than the appointment of Dr. Lane," said member Thomas Sumpter.
"Welcome to the hot seat," board member Jean Fink said.
"I'm very excited. I'm very humbled and pleased, and ready to serve," Dr. Lane told reporters after her selection.
Board member Mark Brentley Sr. cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he would have preferred a national search for a new school chief.
"I am voting no against the process, not the person," Mr. Brentley said.
Dr. Lane's performance-based contract runs through Jan. 16, 2014, and will pay her $200,000 the first year, with the possibility of a $10,000 merit-based increase in subsequent years along with a $5,000 automatic raise.
She has said she intends to advance initiatives undertaken by her predecessor, among them the Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship program and the Empowering Effective Teachers initiative, which is aimed at both performance-based pay for new teachers and establishment of teacher training academies.
Dr. Lane expressed a desire to continue moving the district and its students forward, seeking, among other things, to raise student achievement. "We must deepen the work we have begun," she said.
The district said Dr. Lane will be expected to meet performance priorities in areas that include: continuing implementation of the Empowering Effective Teacher Plan; prioritizing high schools; continuing district progress on PSSA exams; and school and community engagement.
Dr. Lane is a native of Morgantown, W.Va., and is the daughter of the first black assistant school superintendent of public schools in Des Moines, Iowa, the city in which she spent much of her life.
Dr. Lane's career in education spans four decades. In 1971, she taught elementary school in Iowa City and then moved to Des Moines Public Schools, where a little over three decades later, she became deputy superintendent of schools from 2003 to 2006. She was a finalist for the superintendency in 2006 but was not selected. The next year, she came to Pittsburgh.