For District 6 school-board candidate Moira Kaleida, the decision to run in the upcoming May primary election was personal. Kaleida is a Pittsburgh Public Schools graduate and this year was her daughter's first year in the district.
"We have a long time ahead of us," says Kaleida. "I think it's worth investing time and a commitment into it, since we have a long road ahead of us with the school district."
The stay-at-home mom, who was endorsed by the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and the Allegheny Democratic Committee, has a degree in secondary social studies and citizenship education from Penn State. She also serves on the board of directors of the International Cesarean Awareness Network and Brew on Broadway, a nonprofit coffee house.
"I think my background in education definitely gives me a leg up as far as understanding things from an inside level, as well as what I know from being a parent," explains Kaleida.
In addition to expanding opportunities for early childhood education and lobbying Harrisburg for a fair funding formula that would ensure moneys for the neediest schools, Kaleida says she'd like to see the district be more innovative.
"I think we need to focus on innovation in our district," Kaleida says. "What ideas do we have to make the district a district of first choice?"
Kaleida says one example of a district misstep was passing on City High Charter School. According to Kaleida, City High, a technology-focused 9-12 in Downtown Pittsburgh, was originally pitched as a public school, but the district turned it down.
"Now, they have one of the best charter programs in the city and that could have been a district school," says Kaleida. "When you miss out on innovative ideas, it hurts your district. You have to have a board that's going to look at all the options."
Conversely, Kaleida points to the board's recent decisions surrounding Woolslair PreK-5 as an example of embracing innovation. The board recently approved a science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) curriculum at Woolslair, which was in danger of being closed due to low enrollment.
"I was not a fan of all the school closures. I don't think you educate more kids by closing schools," Kaleida says. "I think Woolslair was a good example. I think that was a good move on the board's part, keeping it open and providing an innovative new curriculum. That's what we need to be doing all over."
Kaleida will face Samuel Hurst and Tracy Link in the upcoming election.