Pennsylvania Department of Education puts Wilkinsburg, Aliquippa school districts on financial watch list
By Tory N. Parrish
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013, 3:03 p.m.
Troubled finances have led the state Department of Education to put the Wilkinsburg and Aliquippa school districts on a financial watch list.
Being on the list enables the department to offer school districts technical assistance to correct their financial problems, said Tim Eller, spokesman for the state agency.
The districts don't have to accept the help, Eller said.
The system is set up to prevent districts from being placed in financial recovery, which can force them into receivership if they don't make progress with state-appointed chief recovery officers after up to a year, he said.
Reasons the department placed Wilkinsburg on the watch list included the district's seeking permission from Allegheny County Court in January to borrow $3 million to pay its bills and the fact that its 2010-11 tax burden on property owners is the second-highest among 500 school districts in the state, according to a letter on Friday to school board President Karen Payne.
The district saved $500,000 by closing Johnston Elementary School last summer. In the past three years, it has cut 87 jobs, leaving 246 employees, saving about $2.8 million.
Its 2012-13 budget is $27.4 million.
“We are in much better shape than people think that we are,” acting Superintendent Archie Perrin Jr. said.
Aliquippa went on the watch list because its outstanding debt was 228 percent of expenditures at the end of the 2011-12 fiscal year and it had a projected $725,000 shortfall in June, according to the state's letter to school board President Edward Palombo.
“We knew this was coming,” said Superintendent David Wytiaz, who said the district welcomed the state's technical assistance.
There is little economic development in Aliquippa, a former mill town that has been in financial distress under Act 47 since 1987.
The school district's 2012-13 budget is $20.5 million.
To improve its finances, the district has furloughed employees, raised taxes and cut programs, he said.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer forTrib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-Steelers receiver Wallace: Working with Haley ‘a challenge’
- Second-half surge powers Duquesne past UMBC
- Connellsville Area High School receives positive report from Middle States study
- Two new members welcomed to Connellsville Area School Board
- Hezbollah commander shot down
- Empty, $36M facility justified, general finds
- 15 spills illegally discharge sewage into Murrysville’s Turtle Creek
- Bashir resigns over comments about Palin
- Penguins notebook: Sill thrives on penalty kill
- Steelers coach Tomlin fined $100K by NFL
- NFL notebook: Arrowhead parking lot death ruled a homicide