Tuesday, May 16 is the primary election for school board seats in Pittsburgh Public Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9.

District 9 includes Chartiers Early Childhood Center, Langley K-8, Morrow PreK-8, Westwood K-5, Classical 6-8, Perry High School, and the Gifted Center.

The two candidates running for District 9 are incumbent Carolyn Klug (Democrat) and Veronica Edwards (Democrat/Republican). Edwards cross-filed for the upcoming primary election, meaning she can run for both the Democratic and Republican parties and increase her chances of making it to the November 7 general election.

James Fogarty, executive director at A+ Schools, described board member responsibilities as being “ in charge of improving the quality of existing options. They innovate and create new and better schools in the district.”

Over the past decade, the Northside has gone from a district with multiple schools to one with diminishing options. The only remaining high school now being Pittsburgh Perry.

In an online questionnaire for the candidates, which can be found in its entirety at www.voteschoolboardfirst.org, Klug and Edwards were both asked: “Over the last several years Pittsburgh Public Schools has seen a decline in student enrollment. How will you reverse this trend to keep families in the district?”

Klug responded, “We are working diligently to ensure equity in the district. We have increased CTE programs and are finding ways to offer AP classes to children in all of our schools not just a select few.”

Edwards said, “Trading staff in customer service techniques. See them as customers to place a greater value on retaining them.”

According to a press release by A+ Schools, “only 1 in 5 registered voters cast ballots for school board in off-year primary elections.” Because of this statistic, A+ Schools and its Partners for Educational Equity and Excellence have created a campaign and website to educate residents on the candidates in the upcoming school board elections. The campaign is called “Vote School Board First!”.

There are over 26,000 students in Pittsburgh Public Schools and charter schools with over 3,000 staff members, which needed a general operating budget of $594.4 million for 2017.

As part of the Vote School Board First! campaign, there will be a city-wide School Board Candidate Forum at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 8 at the Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium at the Kaufmann Center, 1825 Centre Ave. During the forum, voters will hear directly from school board candidates and have the opportunity to ask questions.

Fogarty said he would like to see Northsider’s in attendance and asking questions, like “how to close the opportunities gap in the district, how will they manage resources in the district to make sure kids get what they need, what resources will be going into the classroom, how [will they] face the transportation challenge from the Northside to magnet programs across the city?”

Volunteers are needed to encourage voters to Vote School Board First! between now and Election Day. For more information about how you can help, visit: www.voteschoolboardfirst.org or contact Graham Mulqueen atgmulqueen@aplusschools.org or 412.697.1298.

A+ Schools is the community advocate and leader for educational equity and excellence in Pittsburgh’s Public Schools. It serves as a community force advancing the highest educational achievement and character development for every public school student. Its core purpose and focus of work is to increase educational equity in Pittsburgh schools. For more information, contact A+ Schools at 412-697-1298 or visit: www.aplusschools.org.