Thomas Sumpter, Pittsburgh School Director, District 3

Thomas Sumpter is a member of the Pittsburgh Board of Education

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Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Committee To Elect Thom Sumpter PO Box 53053 Pittsburgh PA 15219

Saturday, December 25, 2010

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President, Pittsburgh Board of Education

Thursday, April 16, 2009

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Sunday, April 12, 2009


Currently President
Serves on the Policy Committee
Serves on the Business Committee
Serves of the PIAA District 8 Committee
Former First and Second Vice President
Former Education Committee Chair
Former Board Liaison, Early Childhood Program Policy Council
Former Region 13 Director, Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA)
Former Chair, Urban Forum Advisory Committee, PSBA

Biographical Information

Thomas (Thom) Sumpter is 64 years old and retired. He was born in Saint Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh on Saint Patrick’s Day in 1950. He resides in the Schenley Heights(Upper Hill) section of Pittsburgh with his wife Sarah, of 33 years, and daughter Crystal.

Thom was involved in the scouts, organized baseball and bowling, and youth groups growing up in Pittsburgh.

Thom was educated in the Pittsburgh Public School System. He attended Madison Elementary, H.C. Frick Elementary School, now Frick International Studies Academy, and Schenley High School where he graduated with high honor. He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Relations from Carnegie Mellon University. He also did graduate work at the School of Urban and Public Affairs at Carnegie Mellon University and the Graduate School of Urban Planning at Morgan State University. He has a certificate of completion from Columbia School of Broadcasting. He is a Broad Fellow in recognition of successful completion of The Broad Institute for School Boards.

Thom worked summers while in college as a Computer Programmer, with Gulf Oil, a Metallurgy Lab Technician, with E.W. Bliss Company, a Field Service Aide, with Neighborhood Youth Corps, and a Housing Counselor, with the Pittsburgh Urban League.

Thom worked for state government in West Virginia from 1976 to 1979. He worked in the Governor’s Office Economic and Community Development as a Housing Specialist and a Land Use Specialist. He chaired a State Housing Task Force and authored an executive order that was signed into law.

Thom returned to Pittsburgh and started working for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1979. He worked with HUD for 25 years. He worked as a community planning and development representative, an environmental officer, a control file subsystem supervisor, an affordable housing specialist, a rehabilitation management specialist and an environmental protection specialist. He administered Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, Housing Investment Partnerships (HOME) funds, Supportive Housing Program (SHP) funds, Youthbuild funds, and Housing Opportunities for People With Aids (HOPWA) funds to local units of government and non-profit organizations in the western half of Pennsylvania and all of West Virginia. He retired in July 2004.

Thom is the elected Allegheny County Democratic Party Male Member for the 5th Ward District 8 in the City of Pittsburgh. He is a member of The Friends of the Carnegie Library Hill District Branch.  He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  He is a member of Carrone Baptist Church.  He is the Financial Secretary and a member of the Media Ministry at Carrone.

Thom was the Second Vice President, the Third Vice President and an Executive Committee Member of the NAACP Pittsburgh Branch. He was President of PCM Charities and a former radio talk show host.

Views on Pittsburgh Public Schools

1. Declining school population and declining tax revenue.

Spending must be reduced where possible. Financial and educational resources must be distributed efficiently and equitably. Quality rigorous courses and educational options must be offered. A long range plan on the use of facilities must be developed that takes into account population changes.

2. Environmental issues facing our schools and how they should be addressed.

The most important environmental issues are diesel bus exhaust resulting in pollution, inadequate ventilation systems resulting in poor air quality, and moisture problems resulting in mold contamination.

Buses built after 2007 and buses with diesel particulate filters should be used to the maximum extent.

Ventilation systems should be regularly checked and updated were possible. Maintenance on all leaks and water infiltration should be routine and given high priority.

3. Diesel Emissions.

I support utilizing buses with diesel particulate filters. I completely understand the negative affect diesel particulates can have on children in school buses and the risk we put children in by not addressing this issue. I also understand the effect diesel particulate filters have on reducing particulates. Because we use various providers, we must work to adopt an appropriate policy to address the matter with our carriers that achieves the desired result.

4. Needed to accomplish.

I would like to raise academic achievement and eliminate all educational disparities in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and make the School District of Pittsburgh one of the top school districts in the world.

5. Why I am running for school Board.

Improvements have been made to the Pittsburgh Publics Schools since I was elected. Achievement has gone up. A new aligned and more rigorous curriculum was implemented. Much professional development has been provided. Curriculum coaches have been placed in all the schools. Accelerated Learning Academies have been created. New choices in high schools have been created. Formative assessments are utilized to evaluate students. An administrator rating system and development program have been created. Labor strikes have been averted. Expenditures have leveled off. The Board has adopted goals, beliefs and commitments and a code of conduct to improve its governance. I want to continue these efforts and add to the above.

I have the ability, desire and time to be School Director. I am deeply concerned with providing quality education to all students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools in an efficient and cost effective manner.

6. Duties of a School Director.

School Directors must plan, set policy, and evaluate results. All three functions are equal in importance. Planning is essential to insure to long term viability of the District. Policies are intended to guide activities are carried in the District. District accountability is determined through the evaluation of results.

School Directors must: 1) work with the other directors to insure there are adequate facilities and staff to educate all students, 2) make decisions to assure the education system is carried out in an efficient and cost effective manner and 3) make decisions that are in the best interest of the students and residents.

Some other duties are to: approve long range plans, annual budgets, enter into contracts, hire and fire employees, adopt textbooks, approve courses, levy taxes, provide for special education and adopt rules and regulations to govern all school activities. All of the above duties are important.

7. Important personal characteristics or traits as they relate to the school board.

I have the ability to make informed reasonable decisions based on information provided, my own knowledge and expertise and input from the community and others. I have patience and understanding and can determine short term and long term effects of decisions. I listen to other points of view and incorporate that into my decision making.

8. Responsibilities to constituency and responsibilities to all students in Pittsburgh Public Schools.

It is my responsibility to help constituents receive the service the District is supposed to provide them. It is also my responsibility to focus on the management systems in place and see how well they assist constituents address their own concerns. I also have the responsibility to intervene in areas where constituent concerns are not addressed.

My responsibility to all students is to ensure that they are provided all the necessary support in teaching, materials and facilities to maximize their achievement and decisions are made in an equitable manner.

9. Ideas for making the school board more accessible to the public.

The preparation and posting of minutes from Board meetings can be improved to better inform and engage the public. The Education Committee meetings could be televised. A District radio and television show should be developed to keep the public informed of District activities.

10. The role of between the school board and and the superintendent.

The appropriate role for the school board and the superintendent should be a partnership, based on trust, with the understanding that the board is responsible for district governance and the superintendent is responsible for district management.

11. Building consensus among colleagues holding opposing views.

I must listen to the concern of colleagues. Different alternatives to address the concerns and their impacts must be discussed. Attempts must be made to develop compromises if one side or the other does not completely prevail.

12. Information for decision making.

I use all the information that is provided to me and that I can possibly obtain on my own, from the community, and others to make decisions.

13. The role of the community in the school district decision making process.

The community is vital in the decision making process by helping to hold the school district accountable. The community provides valuable insight into how district activities are actually being carried out. This assists making decisions

14. Motivating students and teachers to be successful.

Provide recognition for positive activities by students and teachers. Celebrate success in the District. Make sure the administration is doing what it’s supposed to do to provide for and support student and teacher needs.

15. Concerns with the school district.

My concerns are raising achievement, eliminating educational disparities, reducing costs, and creating a world class school district.

16. Goals for helping students succeed.

I am committed to the following: educating all students to their highest level of academic achievement, providing a safe learning and working environment, providing necessary support for students, employees and parents, distributing resources in and efficient and equitable manner to meet educational needs, and improving family and community engagement.

17. Early Childhood Programs

Existing early childhood centers must be evaluated to determine early childhood program needs. Opened and closed school buildings must be examined to determine where additional space can be made available. School district facilities must be better utilized to reduce the number of outside rentals and provide additional space for early childhood programs.

18. Related experience.

I have served as a School Director on the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education for over three years. I have work on issues such as: raising academic achievement, school safety, support operations, equitable distribution of resources, and improving public engagement. I have been involved with school closings, union negotiations, implementing new curriculum, professional development, school district financing, school policies, school configurations, declining population and tax base, leveling expenditures and not raising taxes.

Prior to becoming a school director, I worked 25 years in federal government and 3 years state government. I am trained in social relations, public management, urban planning and computer applications. I have work experience in environmental protection, community development, economic development, housing development, housing opportunities for people with aids, youth development, loan underwriting, and land use management.

19. Harrassment, bullying, and hate crimes.

One way to combat harassment, bullying and hate crimes against sexual students, faculty, and staff is through education and dialogue.

Policies on harassment, bullying and hate crimes must be enforced. Sensitivity training can also help.

20. Sex education.

I support age appropriate comprehensive sexual education.

21. Welcoming environment.

I am committed to maximizing achievement for all and developing a safe and welcoming environment in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Public school activities must be all inclusive and stakeholders in school activities must feel welcomed.