Cuts Hit Disadvantaged Students the Hardest

The following information has been added to a new menu tab on Yinzercation called “The Facts.” We will be posting information like this as we receive it. Please feel free to send along data about how the budget is affecting your school district.

Consequences of the Cuts on Pittsburgh Public Schools

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.

The Most Disadvantaged Students Hurt the Most

The state budget cuts have affected nearly every district in the state, but poor districts have been hit the hardest. While the most disadvantaged students are unfairly bearing the brunt of this attack on public education, the effects are being felt throughout Southwestern PA and impact us all. The Superintendent of the Fox Chapel School District warned, “Although we may not hear the thunder, it is lightning all around us.” (May 2011 Message from the Superintendent.)

Here is a snap shot of how the state budget cuts are affecting local school districts on a per-student basis. (All data from district web sites and budget reports, compiled by Lara Cosentino and Jessie Ramey.)

Do you have data for your school district? Share it with us! Send information to jessie.b.ramey_at_gmail.com.

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