Pittsburgh Metropolis Council has been accused of being “nice” because it seeks to become involved within the college district’s pandemic

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Pittsburgh City Councilor Ricky Burgess proposed on Wednesday that a series of public television meetings be held with school district officials to brief council members on the school district’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The city government and school district operate as separate entities.

Pittsburgh Public Schools board members are considering delaying the district’s reopening plan.

“It’s time we, as the local council, started talking to the schools in a very public way,” said Burgess, adding that the council has responsibility for the students when they are home, what a large part the pandemic was the case.

The idea was supported by other council members, although council chairwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said the council should have been more concerned with the school district for some time.

A city education commission has been inactive for several years, Kail-Smith said.

The school board was in a board meeting prior to the meeting, but the school board member Kevin Carter took a call from the Tribune Review to say, “We are under no obligation to the city council. … The council is full of (expletive). “

The council doesn’t have “two worries” about the district until there is a problem, Carter said, and they lack an understanding of the operation of the school district. “Who is the city council that has a say in what we do?”

School administrators and board members were not contacted until Burgess announced the idea at the end of the council meeting.

Burgess said he hesitated to bring it up, but felt the need to do so on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t normally go that route,” said Burgess.

He cited studies showing students are falling behind due to the pandemic. “The status quo is unacceptable,” he said.

Other council members agreed but also said the overture was overdue.

“We should have done that all along,” said Kail-Smith, a feeling that was confirmed by City Councilor Erika Strassburger.

“The way I think about it is less of a step on other people’s lawn (and more) how can we work together?” Said Strassburger.

While school board members are not paid for their service, city council members receive paid staff and other resources, Strassburger said, and these factors could help help the school board.

“We have a role to play here. I would like to, even if they resisted first, “said Strassburger.

Carter said he “got sick” when the council fitted in with the school board’s business.

“What they do is great at best,” said Carter. “You see the district is on the news. They just want to be part of the drama of the district. You’re sick of even bringing it up. “

Councilors don’t go to schools or speak to board members unless there’s a problem, Carter said.

Councilor Anthony Coghill, who represents the South Hills neighborhoods on the city council, said he had a good working relationship with William Gallagher, the school board member who represents his district.

Carter lamented the lack of state-level guidance that has tasked school authorities with making decisions about how best to educate students during a deadly pandemic.

“The governor doesn’t have the gall to make the decision,” Carter said. “Nobody wants to be responsible.”

The city council unanimously approved the establishment of the meetings.

School board president Sylvia Wilson said in a text message that she was unaware of the council’s move. Other officials and board members at Pittsburgh Public Schools did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tom Davidson is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, tdavidson@triblive.com, or on Twitter.

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