December 2013 Board Watch Report CardLeave a Comment
Volunteers give last grade to outgoing Board Members
More Volunteers Needed to Provide Feedback
On its eighteenth Board Watch report card based on volunteer assessment, the School Board of Pittsburgh Public Schools scored an overall B- for the period from September – November 2013.
• Overall: The overall grade remained at a 3.36 (B-), the same grade as in the previous Report Card. The grades were calculated from 21 surveys from 12 different volunteers.
• Focus and Mission: The score is a 3.32 (C+), decreasing from a B- from the previous Report Card. On average, volunteers reported that the Board spent slightly over half of their meeting time managing time effectively, focusing on ways to achieve the district’s goals, and prioritizing student outcomes.
• Transparency: The score is a 3.75 (B), remaining at a B, which means that on average, volunteers agreed that they felt welcome at the meeting and understood the information presented and the rationale behind the Board’s actions.
• Conduct: The score is a 3.86 (B), decreasing from a B+ on the previous Report Card. This means that on average, volunteers reported that ¬some Board members used sarcastic or disrespectful verbal or nonverbal communication. They reported that most of the Board handled differences of opinion respectfully.
• Role Clarity: The score is a 2.62 (C-), remaining a C-and continuing to be the lowest grade. This score reflects that on average, volunteers reported that the Board spent less than half of its meeting time focused on how the district is making progress toward achieving its goals and using policy to create solutions to Board member concerns. Volunteers said the Board spent more than half of its meeting time focused on the details of agenda items (i.e., when items occur, who participates, etc.).
• Competency: The score is a 3.26 (C+), remaining a C+ from the previous Report Card, which means that on average, volunteers reported that slightly more than half of the Board members were prepared for the meeting and appeared to use research, district data, existing policies and other facts to inform their opinions.
Recommendations – Supporting Financial Sustainability
As in the previous two report cards, we urge the School Board to prioritize decisions that will result in our district remaining financially sustainable and in schools better serving our most vulnerable students. The School Board faces great challenges ahead given that the district’s expenses are greater than its revenue, and the district is projected to go insolvent in 2016. We urge School Board members to work through difficult decisions with dignity and respect for each other, district administration, and for our students, whose needs should be put first.
We hope the Board accepts this report card and recommendations in the constructive and collaborative spirit in which they are offered. We would also like to thank outgoing Board Directors Theresa Colaizzi, Jean Fink, Floyd “Skip” McCrea, and Sharene Shealey for your commitment and service to Pittsburgh’s students during your time as School Board Directors. To all other Board Directors: thank you for your continued leadership and dedication to ensuring all of Pittsburgh’s students have access to resources that will help them thrive and reach success in high school and beyond.
Since the launch of Board Watch in January 2009, A+ Schools has issued 18 report cards on Pittsburgh School Board governance practices based on observations of meetings by trained volunteers.
The December 2013 report card is the tenth report card to be issued using the new reporting form (Version 2.0) introduced by A+ Schools in 2011. Version 2.0 reflects higher expectations for the School Board’s governance and allows for more specific feedback and recommendations from Board Watch volunteers.
What You Can Do
- Volunteer for Board Watch
- Contact your School Board Member
- Testify at a Public Hearing
- Attend or Watch a School Board Meeting