Wilkinsburg to lay off 43 workers, close school

| Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 10:15 a.m.

The Wilkinsburg School Board agreed Tuesday night to furlough 43 employees, close a school and raise taxes to balance next year's budget.

“It's actually going to make the school district more efficient,” Superintendent Archie Perrin said after the board voted to approve the $26.9 million budget for the 2012-13 school year.

The vote was 7-1, with Tiffany Lumpkin opposed and LaTonya Washington abstaining.

The budget is about $1 million more than this year's and includes a 1.67-mill increase to 36.672 mills.

For a house assessed at $37,300, which is the median residential value in the borough, school district taxes will increase from $1,305 to $1,367.

School directors had to close a $3.1 million budget shortfall that was created by factors including statewide budget cuts, increases in school district employees' health costs and declining enrollment, said Bruce Dakan, director of business affairs.

Furloughed were one principal, eight teachers, 15 teaching assistants, seven associate teachers, four behavioral health specialists, five secretaries and three custodians.

Five teachers have decided to retire or resign, leaving the district with about 130 teachers, Dakan said. The staff reductions will save the district $2.8 million, he said.

The board decided to close Johnston Elementary School, where 180 students were enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade this year. The furloughs will be based on employee seniority and certifications, so it's possible that some Johnston employees will be reassigned to other schools, Perrin said.

The closing of Johnston leaves the district with two elementary schools -- Turner and Kelly -- and a building shared by middle and high school students.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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