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Council Considers School Closings Moratorium

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Andy Sheehan Andy Sheehan
KDKA-TV Investigator Andy Sheehan began his broadcast journalism...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s not their decision to make — but city council wants a moratorium on school closings in Pittsburgh.

“Every time we see a school closing we see more and more residents leaving the city,” City Council President Darlene Harris said.

Prompted by the community groups and the teachers union — council seems ready to endorse he moratorium — and perhaps set up an advisory committee to the school board to evaluate alternatives.

“We’ve closed so many schools over the past 12 years,” Teacher’s Union President Nina Esposito-Visgitis said. “We feel it is important to have a conversation about what’s best for our schools.”

“Of course nobody wants to close schools, but the fact is that the Pittsburgh Public schools are in major, major financial trouble,” she said.

But County Controller Chelsa Wagner and other members of the school watchdog group A-Plus School warned against any moratorium — saying the school board must make tough decisions in tough economic times.

Wagner also objected to another part of the council resolution challenging the district’s new teacher evaluation standards — which seek to weed out poor performing teachers regardless of seniority.

“Seniority can be considered, but seniority shouldn’t be the only factor,” Wagner said. “It’s fair for teachers to be evaluated and have some accountability just like every other profession.”

But the teacher’s union says the council resolution is not out of bounds.

“They are not trying to usurp the board of the school board what they are asking for is a conservations so everyone can be involved in the future of our schools,” Esposito-Visgitis said.

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