Pittsburgh schools drop 'public' from name to boost image

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The Pittsburgh Public Schools will drop "public" from its name and adopt a new, standardized way of referring to its schools as part of a campaign to brighten and strengthen the district's image.

For example, Schenley High School will be called Pittsburgh Schenley.

Superintendent Mark Roosevelt's staff unveiled the policy at a school board Education Committee meeting last night.

Under the policy, the district simply will call itself the "Pittsburgh Schools." The district's logo -- a pattern of circles, triangles and squares -- will still be used.

But the district also will begin using "Excellence for All," the name of its sweeping academic-improvement plan, on all stationery and other written materials. "Excellence for All" has its own logo with a gold swirl and star.

Lisa Fischetti, chief of staff, said the district isn't changing its legal name or the legal names of its 65 schools, it's just introducing a new way of referring to them. She said the new policy complements Mr. Roosevelt's efforts to remake the district academically and boost its image.

Under the new policy, Sterrett Classical Academy will be called Pittsburgh Sterrett. But the school's traditional name still will be used -- albeit in smaller print -- on stationery and other printed materials.

School board members offered little reaction to the policy, which does not require board approval.

By dropping "public" from its name, Randall Taylor said, the district might be able to avoid the negative attitude often associated with public schools.

Ms. Fischetti noted that suburban districts don't have "public" in their names, and a marketing consultant who helped develop the policy, Meade Johnson, said the district is less interested in the "public" tag than in linking its identity to the "Excellence for All" agenda.

By adding Pittsburgh to the identity of each school, Ms. Fischetti hopes the public will come to associate a level of quality with every school in the district. Ms. Fischetti said the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has developed that sort of customer respect by attaching its acronym, "UPMC," to its member hospitals throughout the region.

Ms. Fischetti said she had no timetable for implementing the name changes.

Also, the district last night announced plans to upgrade its parent hotline into a "customer service center," another initiative aimed at boosting the district's image.

The plan includes better training for operators, the ability to send out thousands of phone messages or e-mails at once and a standard turnaround time for responding to parent complaints.

The district also said it was forming a committee to revise its curriculum on human reproduction. Mr. Roosevelt said the group will study the possibility of adding contraception to the curriculum. Currently, that subject is raised only in presentations by outside agencies. Students must have their parents' consent to attend those sessions.


Joe Smydo can be reached at jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.


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