Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata and three school board members are heading to Pittsburgh this weekend to see what education lessons they can learn from the Steel City.
The Wake school contingent is among a group of local elected officials, government officials, business people and community leaders who are participating in this year's Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Inter-City Visit and Leadership Conference. The group will meet with different Pittsburgh leaders to see how the city has transformed itself.
On the education side, the part of the trip that will most likely be relevant is a discussion about The Pittsburgh Promise Program. Students who graduate from Pittsburgh Public Schools or local charter high schools with at least a 2.5 GPA and 90 percent attendance record receive up to $40,000 in college scholarships for in-state schools.
The students don't have to compete to get the money. They'll receive it as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. The amount is dependent upon how long they've attended schools in Pittsburgh with those who've been there since kindergaren getting the most money.
The scholarship program relies on donations, something that would likely have to be repeated if implemented here in Wake.
The Pittsburgh Public Schools are considered one of the more successful examples of districts run by graduates of the Broad Superintendents Academy. The current superintendent and her predecessor are Broad graduates, just like Tata..
In addition to Tata, school board chairman Kevin Hill, school board member Susan Evans and school board member Christine Kushner are scheduled to go on the trip. The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce is footing the costs for Tata and the school board members.
The Wake school group will skip Tuesday's discussion about fracking to make it back in time for the school board meeting.
The Chamber is paying the costs for the managers, such as Tata and Wake County Manager David Cooke. For elected officials, the Chamber is offering a $999 per person government rate instead of the regular $2,150 per person charge.
The Chamber provided three scholarships for each government body, which in this case covered the costs for the three school board members. Some bodies like the Raleigh City Council are sending more than three people so some are covered by the scholarships and others are paying the government rate.