Though the Pittsburgh Public Schools tried to put a rosy face on its “State of the District” press presentation by having it at its highest achieving school, CAPA, and showing off several talented students, the bottom line could not be avoided: without substantial changes the district will be bankrupt in two years.
Superintendent of Schools Linda Lane told the packed Black Box Theater audience that she and her staff would recommend changes that could save between $17-44 million by 2016, which would almost meet the projected 2016 deficit of $50 million.
“We are always starting a lot of stuff, but we never seem to finish it before moving on to the next ‘big idea,”’ she said. “So a lot of what you’ll hear in our new vision plan isn’t really new–but that doesn’t mean it still shouldn’t be done.”
Lane said the district’s fundamental challenges were, again, improving student outcomes and fixing the budget deficit. Brad Smith, the district’s executive director for strategic planning, gave the presentation on the budget, noting that contractual obligations or state law make 60 percent of district spending untouchable, but within the $202-million portion the district can adjust, there are six areas which savings could be realized by: