PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Public Schools has too few devices and too many students without them. While other school districts are moving forward with classes both in-person and online, Pittsburgh Public Schools has delayed online-only classes for at least a week, and maybe even longer.
The district is still waiting for thousands of computer devices on order to be delivered — 11,000 have not yet arrived, including those for 6,000 students who still don’t have a device in their homes.
Board president Sylvia Wilson says the district is not alone in this nationwide backlog.
“We just want people to be patient. We want students to have things in their hands to be able to start. It’s not a fault of the school district. At best, it’s because everybody needs the equipment and everybody is looking for it,” she said.
But board member Sala Udin says the district was slow to order the devices and blames the administration of Superintendent Anthony Hamlet for waiting well into the pandemic to act.
“We knew about it and we could have allocated the funds for it farther in advance than we did. That’s an administrative executive function that he should be held accountable for,” Udin said.
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KDKA’s review of the purchases shows the district did not make any bulk orders until April when the board authorized the purchase of 5,000 devices. They ordered 7,000 in May and waited for CARES Act funding to order another 19,000 on July.
They’ve ordered a total of 33,000 and a third have not arrived.
But even when they do arrive, Udin says teachers are still not trained to teach on them.
“We should have been doing that throughout the entire summer, but we were not doing it and now we’re paying for it,” he said.
Wilson says under contract, the district couldn’t require teachers to do the training in the summer months.
For Pittsburgh Public Schools students and their families, more delays means more adjustments.
WATCH: KDKA’s Lindsay Ward reports
At Arsenal 6-8 in Lawrenceville on Monday, parents were seen grabbing iPads and books; something we’ll see more schools do within the district this week.
Monday is also the start of the “Grab ‘n Go” meal program for the district’s 27 schools. But most families weren’t looking to pick up breakfast or lunch, they were patiently waiting to get their technology needs.
“It’s stressful, trying to figure out what’s going on and how we’re doing all of this,” parent Carla Butch said.
She has three kids in the district. She arrived at Arsenal around 8 a.m., well before the school had a table set up to hand out materials.
“We did think there was going to be a wait. Because where else were people getting them? They were running out of them,” said Butch.
Parents say, it hasn’t been easy.
“Trying to figure out school to work. Don’t work or just really trying to be able to survive,” said Michael Fechke, a parent in the district.
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