PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh school superintendent Dr. Linda Lane delivered her State of the District address Wednesday morning, pledging to create a school district where a hundred percent of the children go on to a two or four-year college degree or workforce certification.
Lane says that will take focus.
“One of the issues with urban school districts is that we dig a foundation, we build a basement and then we abandon the basement and go build another basement someplace else,” Lane told a group of education supporters.
And it comes as the district needs to down-size as families leave the city and the city’s public school system.
“Even quite recently, there has been a notable decline in the number of school aged children in the city,” said Brian Smith, executive director of Strategic Initiatives.
“Many reasons have contributed to this effect, including movement to the suburbs, economic struggles, and demographic trends resulting in less children per household,” he said.
Fewer children attending public school obviously means fewer schools in the future.
“We have many schools that are well below their capacity and some that are below the efficient size of operating a school,” added Smith.
What schools will be closed next is unclear, although the district’s smallest school, Woolslair K-to-5, is being examined for closure.
The report names no additional schools but suggests $3 -5 million can be saved by closing or consolidating an additional five to 10 schools.
“This is the beginning of the process, not the end, because we know that there’s got to be a lot of community engagement and conversation before we come to, this is okay, this is what we’re going to do together as a community,” noted Lane.
As the school district wrestles with what school to close next, the future depends on reversing the population decline.
And it’s the old chicken and egg issue.
Great public school systems attract more families to a community — and more families increase the tax base which means better schools.
Lane and the school board will have a new ally soon in city hall.
Attracting more people to live in the city and send their children to its schools is a goal of Mayor-elect Bill Peduto.