As a parent volunteer, Mount Washington resident Tracy Link has helped implement a number of education and social programs at the schools her children attend.
At South Hills Middle School, she helped run a character-building program that was reinforced by local businesses and saw students engaging with their neighbors at local senior centers.
At Brashear, she helped create a program that paired 11th-graders with incoming eighth-graders. The eighth-graders shadowed the upperclassmen throughout the school year in order to prepare for high school.
"I've been involved in the district as an active volunteer for years," says Link. "I believe in education. I believe it's important."
Now the mother of four hopes to use that experience on the school board. Link is running for the District 6 school-board seat in the May primary election.
"It was brought up to me in the past to run for school board," says Link. "Now that my children are all older and I have more time, I thought it was the right time."
Link says she was approached about running by current District 6 representative Sherry Hazuda, a board veteran who isn't seeking re-election.
Among the issues currently facing Pittsburgh Public Schools, Link says the most important is the budget. For more than five years, the district has warned of a looming budget deficit and taken steps to avoid it. But Link says the steps the district has taken have reduced resources for students and teachers.
"We need to come up with other ways to generate income, because we're going to have a huge shortfall," says Link. "There are a lot of resources students need and there's a cost to those resources."
One of Link's suggestions is to solicit Allegheny County businesses with a net worth of $100 million or more to contribute a percentage of their income to the district. In exchange, they would receive a tax credit.
"We want people to view Pittsburgh as their first choice. Making sure we can provide students with a range of resources will lead to that," explains Link. "There's also probably other line items in the budget we can look at to cut costs."
But one solution to the district's financial difficulties Link says she won't consider is raising real-estate taxes.
"This governing body of the school board can raise taxes," says Link. "I think voters should consider that when they vote."
Link will face Samuel Hurst and Moira Kaleida in the District 6 race.