Alarmed that only 1 in 5 registered voters casts ballots for school board in off-year primary elections, a coalition of organizations announced a new campaign and website (www.voteschoolboardfirst.org) to encourage Pittsburgh to Vote School Board First! A+ Schools along with 10 community-based organizations hope to see increased participation and knowledge of the candidates running for party nominations this spring.
School board races in Pittsburgh Public Districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 will be held on May 16, 2017. The Vote School Board First coalition wants to see a less than 5 percent gap between voters who cast votes for top of the ticket races, such as mayor, and bottom of the ticket races such as school board.
“School board members in Pittsburgh are responsible for enacting policies that govern the district as well as enacting a budget that is larger than the city’s operating budget,” said James Fogarty, Executive Director of A+ Schools. “Voters have the power to hold the school board accountable to the communities in which they serve.”
The Vote School Board First coalition will hold a city-wide School Board Candidate Forum at the Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium at the Kaufmann Center, 1825 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 on Monday, May 8, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. During the forum, voters will hear directly from school board candidates and have the opportunity to ask questions.
With over 26,000 students in Pittsburgh’s district and charter schools, over 3,000 staff members, a general operating budget of $594.4 million this year, and persistent gaps in opportunity and achievement, who is selected as a school board member is critically important to the future of this region.
“The Urban League is proud to urge this community to vote school board first,” said Esther Bush, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. “In these times, with uncertainty at the federal and state levels, it is more important than ever for voters – especially Black voters – to know who their school board candidates are, and to cast your vote for the person that will best uphold the promise of a high quality public education for all. So, vote school board first.”
The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh is one of ten Vote School Board First! campaign co-sponsors. The other organizations are: Amachi Pittsburgh, Black Political Empowerment Project (BPEP), Lawrenceville United and PEP Rally, League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh Inc., Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children, The Pittsburgh Project, The Pittsburgh Promise and Vibrant Pittsburgh.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.697.1298.
This article is sponsored by A+ Schools. 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.