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School & District Management

Pittsburgh School Board Member Named Urban Educator of the Year

By Denisa R. Superville — October 09, 2015 2 min read
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Pittsburgh school board member William “Bill” Isler was named Urban Educator of the Year on Thursday at the annual conference of the Council of the Great City Schools in Long Beach, Calif.

Isler, who was first elected to the Pittsburgh Board of Education in 1999, has served on the panel for the last 16 years.

According to the council, Isler helped to regain lost community philanthropic funding for the city’s public schools. He also helped steer the school board through tough times, including the closures of 30 schools, according to the council.

The council said that Isler is known as a board member “who puts students first” and ensures that the district is “fiscally accountable for the use of taxpayer dollars.”

“His leadership—five years as board president and at least 10 years as vice president—has contributed to efforts in increasing student academic success, which has resulted in higher graduation rates and more students attending postsecondary institutions,” according to the announcement.

Michael Casserly, the council’s executive director, said: “Bill Isler is one of the best school board members any urban school district could have. But he has also inspired improvement in urban education nationally as [the] Pittsburgh Public Schools representative on the Council’s board of directors for 15 years—12 of those on the executive committee and one year as chair of our national board.”

Isler was one of four school board members who were finalists for the honor, which is officially known as the Green-Garner Award.

The others were Cindy Elsbernd from the Des Moines district in Iowa; Perla Tabares Hantman from Florida’s Miami-Dade district; and Bill Sublette from the Orange County district in Orlando, Fla.

Last year’s winner was Houston Superintendent Terry Grier.

The winner receives a $10,000 college scholarship to give to a student.

The Council of the Great City Schools represents 68 of the nation’s largest urban school districts.

Photo Caption: Terry Grier, the superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, congratulates William “Bill” Isler, a member of the Pittsburgh school board and the 2015 winner of the Urban Educator of the Year award, on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Long Beach, Calif. Grier won the award in 2014. --Clarence Tabb, Jr.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.