Sharene Shealey elected president of city school board

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The Pittsburgh Public Schools board has elected a new president, Sharene Shealey of North Point Breeze.

The board voted 6-3 Monday for Ms. Shealey, 40, who is a chemical engineer and the mother of three city school students -- one at Pittsburgh Obama 6-12 and two at Pittsburgh Colfax K-8. She represents District 1 and has been a board member since 2009.

Sherry Hazuda of Beechview, who served as president for the past two years, nominated Ms. Shealey for the office, saying she has shown leadership and a commitment to see that all children are educated. Others who voted for Ms. Shealey were Theresa Colaizzi, Jean Fink, Bill Isler, Floyd McCrea and Ms. Shealey.

Board member Mark Brentley Sr. nominated board member Regina Holley, a former city school principal who joined the board in 2011. Mr. Brentley said Ms. Holley is the "most qualified" and would boost the morale of the staff. Voting for Ms. Holley were Mr. Brentley, Thomas Sumpter and Ms. Holley.

The board also elected Mr. Sumpter, of Schenley Heights, as first vice president and Mr. Isler, of Squirrel Hill, as second vice president.

Ms. Holley said she decided to run after conversations with her colleagues and community members. She pledged to include the Westinghouse alumni, the Hill District Education Committee and other grassroots groups in helping to improve the district.

Ms. Shealey did not make comments before the vote, but after the meeting she said, "I know high quality education can be delivered to every child no matter what their circumstances. We need eliminate the achievement gap."

The district faces serious financial challenges, and, if it were to continue on the present course, would run out of money in 2015.

Referring to school superintendent Linda Lane, Ms. Shealey said, "Dr. Lane has done an outstanding job of leading us through the past two years. There's lot more work to be done."

She also said she hopes to get the board to work together better. "I hope the dynamic within the board moves in a different direction, and we can begin to focus more as a unit."

Ms. Shealey has a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and a master's in the field from Carnegie Mellon University. She is a former chemistry instructor at Community College of Allegheny County; was an air quality specialist for the state Department of Environmental Protection; and is manager of environmental operations/air quality for GenOn Energy Inc. Ms. Shealey is a graduate of the former Pittsburgh Peabody High School, which she said prepared her well for college.

Ms. Hazuda was excited about the vote. "I got my wish. I'm so excited about her leadership. She is just the perfect person at this time."

education - neigh_city

Education writer Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955.


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