Bloomfield school target in Pittsburgh Public Schools' cost-cutting plan
Woolslair Elementary in Bloomfield is the first school targeted for closure under a plan offered on Monday by city schools Superintendent Linda Lane, but she may recommend more when a school board takes office on Dec. 2.
“Size is really the main driving factor,” Lane said, noting that the school has only 110 students. She made the comment during a meeting that was part of Pittsburgh Public Schools' envisioning process to figure out how better to educate students while the money it brings in decreases and its expenses rise.
Pittsburgh Public Schools has a 2013 budget of $521.8 million, or 1.5 percent less than in 2012, but officials expect an operating deficit of $46.3 million by 2016 without changes.
Lane said Woolslair is a low-achieving school and expensive. It costs $14,492 a year to educate a student — twice as much as other K-5 schools in the district.
Lane said she did not recommend any more schools for closure because four new board members will be sworn in next month, and she did not want to overwhelm them.
“I'm disturbed that this is the only school singled out to be closed,” said board member Regina Holley. She said that Woolslair's attendance area was split several years ago with Arsenal, a middle school in Lawrenceville that was converted to add elementary students. Lane suggested moving Woolslair students to Arsenal.
Brian Smith, executive director of strategic priorities for the district, said 40 percent or $202 million of the district's operating budget is “addressable.” The remainder cannot be touched because it is governed by state law such as special education or by contract. Expenses such as pensions, debt and charter school payments and health care costs cannot be addressed.
A moderate approach to reducing the deficit would trim between $17 million and $23 million, and an aggressive approach would cut between $32 million and $45 million, officials said. Among the ideas to save money:
• Clean buildings every other day rather than every day;
• Reduce frequency of cutting grass and shoveling snow;
• Replace technology and textbooks less frequently;
• Transport more students on Port Authority rather than by school buses.
School board member Jean Fink warned that ideas such as shoveling snow less often might cost the district money if someone falls and sues.
The district hired FSF and Bellwether Education Partners, two consulting firms, to help it look at innovative ways to deal with its financial problems. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Fund for Excellence, a group of local foundations, are paying for the $2.4 million cost.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
He can be reached at 412-320-7828 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.
- Hacker stuns Dayton family with computer takeover
- Officials stop packages with ‘inappropriate’ material intended for Murrysville girls
- In reworking contract, Steelers WR Brown gets hefty pay raise
- Feds investigating millions embezzled from Matthews International Corp. of Pittsburgh
- Steelers trying to get missing defensive pieces on field
- Steelers running back eager to prove he can help bridge gap to Bell
- 22-month-old boy shot, killed in North Side; man charged
- Youngstown State looking for repeat performance against Pitt
- PPG’s new CEO to push organic growth with existing clients
- Cole struggles as Brewers continue Miller mastery over Pirates
- Pirates notebook: 6 September call-ups include first-timer Diaz