The Pittsburgh school board last night dropped the district's abstinence-only sex-education curriculum for one that also discusses contraception and alternative lifestyles. The board voted 8-1 for the change.
Mark Brentley Sr. voted no, saying the district hadn't done an adequate job of soliciting input from clergy and the public.
Randall Taylor said he voted for the policy because students are "desperate, I think, for correct information."
Administrators now will flesh out the curriculum with the help of textbooks the board voted last night to purchase.
About a year ago, parents circulated a petition demanding the district abandon the abstinence-only approach in favor of "comprehensive" sex education. The change also was widely supported by parents and students at a public hearing last week.
Administrators said teachers will continue to stress abstinence as the only sure way to avoid unintended pregnancy and sexual diseases.
While contraception will be discussed, but not demonstrated, in the new curriculum, contraceptives will not be distributed.
Parents may remove their children from sex-education classes.
Also last night, the board approved a 21/2-year extension to the contract of Linda Lane, deputy superintendent for instruction, assessment and accountability. The extension would keep her until June 30, 2012.
For now, Dr. Lane's salary will remain $160,000. She'll get a $10,000 bonus for her work in the past year and in future years will be eligible for up to $17,000 in salary increases and bonuses, based on the same pay-for-performance system established for district principals.
The board also changed the titles of other top administrators overseeing curriculum and schools, putting them on 31/2-year contracts and the pay-for-performance system.
In addition, the board rejected proposals for the Quest International Charter School and the Community Service Leadership Development Charter School. Administrators recommended rejection, citing inadequate curricula and other deficiencies.
The board agreed to give Pittsburgh Gateways, a business incubator, 90 days to explore a possible purchase of the former Connelley school building in the Lower Hill District. It also voted to give Nemo Investments Capital LLC 90 days to explore a possible purchase of the former Washington school building in Lawrenceville.
Joe Smydo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1548.