District 6- William J. Gallagher
Q: What role do you believe Pittsburgh Public Schools plays in preparing every child to be successful by the time they arrive at kindergarten? And how will you partner with local government, community organizations, and private childcare centers to ensure more children have access to high-quality Pre-k and child care?
A: Extensive research has shown that early intervention leads to a successful beginning of a child's academic experience. It is imperative that we continue to provide funding and resources through Head Start and the Community Family Centers. I will lead the initiative and develop policy to coordinate efforts with the city's local early childhood institutions to provide a kindergarten readiness program. Parental engagement is the cornerstone of all programs and I will work with the school district to provide equal access to all families of with preschool children.
Q. Superintendent Dr. Hamlet has started the Student Advisory Council to incorporate student voice into district decision making. How will you promote student voice into the Board’s decision making process?
A: I would encourage the Council to make new suggestions about academic initiatives within their respective schools. In addition, I would ask them to review and comment on the student impact of current or proposed policies already in place.
Q: What are your top three priorities to improve the district?
A: Improve literacy rate in all schools across all grade levels. Ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all children in all schools. Delineate and streamline Central Administration so everyone knows their job and is held accountable for providing support to all students and all teachers.
Q: What are three things the district is doing well and how will you build on that?
A: The community school initiative, which I will promote in future local neighborhoods. The recognition of the LGBTQ student population while initiating outreach to other community groups. I would fully support this program. The inclusion of STEAM across the District. I would incorporate programs such as Project Lead the Way throughout all schools.
Q: Teachers are the district’s greatest resource, how will you ensure that teachers and supports are distributed to the students with the most need?
A: I wholeheartedly agree with the statement "equity is the strategic allocation of resources, not necessarily the even split of resources." Immediate adjustments to schools with students experiencing reading difficulties must be made. Class sizes must be lowered and highly qualified staff hired. Central Administration must be held accountable for positive, supportive, working conditions.
Q: Teaching in Pittsburgh Public Schools is a great opportunity. As a board member how will you promote teaching in the district so that we attract high quality diverse teachers?
A: Establish working relationships with local colleges and universities. Investigate the possibilities of a loan forgiveness program. The Recruitment Department will work with the PFT and partner with teacher preparation programs to streamline the hiring process.
Q: School Safety is always a top priority, and part of that is creating a welcoming and safe environment. How will you work to equally advance the psychological and physical safety of students of color, LGBTQIA+ students, immigrants and refugee students?
A: All school must provide a support network with trained staff members to serve as a resource for all groups. All staff will be trained with best practices for implementing anti-bias programs in our schools, such as "No Place For Hate"
Q: What is your vision of a community school? How will you as a board member work to create partnerships to strengthen our schools?
A: Our community schools will respond to unique local needs through the combined voices of the students, families, and residents. The schools are the hub of the community and will be opened year round with extended hours, including evenings and weekends. Our schools should provide a variety of health and social supports and services. I will work with PPS, local government agencies, state agencies and community partners to ensure the success of this model program.
Q: What resources do you think schools need to better engage with families with limited English proficiency? How will you advocate for those resources?
A: A full census of our current ELL population should be up to date to provide the necessary resources, translators and adapted curriculum necessary to serve ELL learners. Staff should be trained on the computer programs to translate and communicate with the families. Additional ELL teachers should be hired. Staff members should be encouraged to integrate the cultural traditions of the ELL learners in their classrooms.
Q: What are the most important skills students need to be ready for life/ career? What will you do as a board member to make sure Pittsburgh students get these skills regardless of what school they attend?
A: Our students must consider themselves as "lifelong learners" with ability to problem solve, communicate and continue to develop strategies to be successful. PPS is laying the foundation for our students futures and we must equip them with all of the necessary tools. The student should not be identified by the school they attended rather than a successful graduate of the PPS school system.
District 6 SCHOOLS
Pittsburgh Banksville K-5
Pittsburgh Beechwood PreK-5
Pittsburgh Brashear High School
Pittsburgh Brookline PreK-8
Pittsburgh Carmalt PreK-8
Pittsburgh South Brook 6-8
Pittsburgh South Hills 6-8
Pittsburgh West Liberty K-5
Pittsburgh Whittier K-5
District 6 Neighborhoods
Parts of Overbrook