When the state cut funding for public education in 2011, Pittsburgh Public Schools lost $15.2 MILLION for the July-December period. With additional cuts in 2012, the District is losing another $14.4 MILLION. (Data from PPS presentation May 19, 2011.) This is on top of previously projected budget deficits, so the consequences are enormous. The school district has been struggling with falling enrollment, rising costs, aging buildings, and legacy commitments (such as pensions). It had already started on an ambitious belt-tightening effort to reduce administration, fill up empty classroom seats, and close and move schools (never easy or popular choices).
Right now PPS is spending far more per student than any of its peer Districts in the state. (See A+ School’s community presentation, October 2011.) The District must continue this crucial work of spending reductions — and must continue to emphasize equity in the process — to get its per-student costs down. But now is not the time to pull the rug out from underneath the District by taking away MILLIONS of dollars. These budget cuts must be stopped, and reversed. Funding public education is not “wasting” tax-payers money: public education is an investment in our future.