James W.


James W. Turner

Adjunct Professor


  • Master of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Pittsburgh
  • Master of Public Administration, University of Pittsburgh
  • Certificate in Accounting, University of Pittsburgh College of General Studies
  • BS, Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh


Jim Turner is the Director of an initiative within the University of Pittsburgh School of Education that responds to requests by districts and/or schools trying to raise academic achievement. The effort is known as the Partnership for School District Improvement (PSDI).

PSDI conducted pilot projects in the Wilkinsburg and Duquesne School Districts. In 2006, both districts achieved “Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)” by having teams of teachers using data to develop instructional strategies on a student-by-student basis focusing on the assessment anchors. In 2007 and 2008, PSDI is working with 10 school districts on a project knows as the Classroom Excellence Initiative (CEI). The CEI combines the introduction of a teacher-friendly data system, the EdInsight Data Window with a team of PSDI trainers working with teachers and administrators focusing on using data to focus and improve classroom instruction. PSDI is also providing training to the Pittsburgh Public School District coaches and principals on the 4Sight Benchmark Assessment system and the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System.

Mr. Turner spent 10 years with the Pennsylvania Economy League (PEL) and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development (ACCD) in several positions including Managing Director (PEL) and Chief Financial Officer (PEL and ACCD). He staffed the School Funding and Financial Management Committee that was part of the Mayor’s Commission on Public Education in the Pittsburgh Public School District.

During his time at the PEL, Mr. Turner also staffed and/or supervised major projects in the region including:

  • Reforming the structure of Allegheny County’s government from the historical three Commissioner system into a strong executive/council form
  • Developing a strategic plan to create a workforce development system for the nine-county region of southwestern Pennsylvania
  • Assessing the financial and educational effectiveness of the Pittsburgh Public School System
  • Creating the Allegheny Regional Asset District that provides major financial support for regional facilities such as the zoo, the library system, and major regional parks

Prior to going to the Pennsylvania Economy League, Mr. Turner spent 10 years with the City of Pittsburgh:

  • Four years as the City’s Chief Administrative Officer (1990-1993)
  • Two years as the Finance Director (1988-1989)
  • Four years as the Budget Director with the City (1983-1986)

Mr. Turner has worked extensively with the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). He has spoken at numerous local, state, and national conferences, and has taught GFOA’s two-day budgeting course. For 10 years, he was a national budget reviewer for GFOA’s distinguished budget awards program.


Teaching and Research Areas

Financial management; managing in the governmental and nonprofit sectors.

Consultancies, Public Service, and Awards/Honors

  • Treasurer, A+ Schools organization
  • Member, Grable Foundation Community Cabinet
  • Consultant, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Act 47 coordinator for fiscally distressed municipalities
  • Chartered Financial Analyst
  • Certified Financial Planner


  • Financial Management

Other Faculty and Academic Administration Positions

  • Director, University of Pittsburgh Partnership for School District Improvement

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
3601 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260