Pittsburgh Public Schools board reappoints Superintendent Linda Lane through 2016
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Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Linda Lane been reappointed to the job through June 30, 2016, a time during which the district will face financial and academic challenges as well as the expiration of the teacher contract.
Seven members of the board Wednesday approved the reappointment. Board member Mark Brentley Sr. voted no, and board member Regina Holley abstained.
Noting the support Ms. Lane received from community leaders at Monday's public hearing, board president Sharene Shealey told Ms. Lane: "Your leadership and your thoughtfulness and your concern about all children of this district is an example I hope many will follow."
But Mr. Brentley, who raised concerns about the process and the timing, said he believes Ms. Lane has "worked very, very, very hard" but "we have to be honest. Something is not working."
Ms. Holley called Ms. Lane a "gracious lady" but said she had concerns and criticized what she said was the board's failure to work together.
"We have neglected to evaluate the superintendent in a way that would support or enhance her growth in helping this school district," she said. "We do not work well together as a team to enhance the educational activities for our students."
Board member Sherry Hazuda praised Ms. Lane's performance, noting efforts to address financial issues, provide early childhood education and improve teaching quality. "This has been a challenging three years that we've worked under Dr. Lane, and the next three years are going to be just as challenging."
Board member Bill Isler said he "wholeheartedly" supports Ms. Lane, adding, "I think over the years she has been in Pittsburgh, she has gained support of the board and of the community and of the staff and of the parents."
Board member Theresa Colaizzi said, "Everyone should be proud of the work she's been able to get done."
Ms. Lane became superintendent on Jan. 1, 2011, and her contract would have expired on Jan. 16, 2014. Because her total tenure will be more than five years, the contract limit under state school code, the motion included accepting her resignation and appointing her to the new term. Her current pay is $200,000 a year, but the new contract calls for annual pay of $220,000 for the 2013-14 school year. Ms. Lane twice before has turned down pay raises.
Ms. Lane indicated last week and again after the meeting on Wednesday that she does not plan to seek a further renewal.
After the meeting, she said she feels a "sense of urgency" as the new contract begins. She counts among her accomplishments making data more publicly available, being open about the strengths and weaknesses of the district and developing an equity plan.
By the time Ms. Lane's old contract would have expired, there will have been substantial turnover on the nine-member school board because four of five incumbents have decided not to seek re-election this year.
New members will be sworn in December, but the board couldn't wait that long to make a decision on the superintendent.
Under state law, the board must notify a superintendent at least 150 days before the end of her contract as to whether it is going to reappoint her or seek other candidates. If the board didn't act, Ms. Lane would have been reappointed automatically.
Ms. Lane, 63, joined the district as deputy superintendent in 2007 after a lengthy career in Des Moines, Iowa.
The new contract would raise her pay Sept. 1. It also provides potential annual raises of at least $5,000, with a total raise of up to $15,000 depending on whether some or all performance priorities are met. At the end of each contract year, she can be reimbursed for $1,000 per day for each unused vacation or personal days up to 20 days.
It also provides for deferred compensation/retirement benefit for the purchase of an annuity contract, allowing for $35,000 in each of 2013, 2014 and 2015.
At a public hearing earlier this week, leaders of several outside organizations submitted statements urging the board to reappoint Ms. Lane.
Carey Harris, executive director of A+ Schools and a parent of three district students, said Ms. Lane shares the community's priorities, has a proven track record and can provide steady leadership in an uncertain future.
She called Ms. Lane's approach "inclusive," "thoughtful" and "measured."
Ms. Harris stated: "Unprecedented turnover on the school board and in the administration also calls for the stability in the executive leadership role. We need to ensure some stability for teachers, staff, parents and students to earn their confidence during such tumultuous and difficult times."
In her statement, Esther Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, said, "We must recognize the outstanding leader we have and empower her to continue leading out district for the challenging days ahead."
The Pittsburgh school district is seeking much-needed stability within the next few years. The latest financial estimate shows the district may have enough in its fund balance to cover a $42.77 million deficit in 2015 but would run out of money in 2016.
The district's teacher contract with the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers is scheduled to expire on June 30, 2015.
The schools also are now is in the early stages of an "envisioning" process -- funded with up to $2.4 million in foundation grants -- to try to map out its future.
First Published March 20, 2013 9:13 pm