PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Public School District is $20 million in the hole and will become bankrupt in 2016 if the situation is not addressed.
So far, the new school board’s only action has been to raise taxes over the objection of board member Bill Isler.
The board has also rejected Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane’s proposal to close Woolslair in Lawrenceville.
“A school that is projected as 100 students, we have to look at the long-term future there,” said Dr. Lane.
Even though the district is plagued with a dozen vacant schools, it’s refusing to sell some of them.
Propel Charter Schools are leasing the old Columbus School on the North Side, but the district has rejected Propel’s offer of $915,000 to buy the school.
Community leaders in Hazelwood want to buy the Burgwin School and lease it to Propel, but the district won’t sell it for the asking price of $475,000.
“I don’t think the figures add up to turning down half a million dollars on a building when you can get that,” said Tim Smith, of the Center of Life.
“Please understand, when I was campaigning last year one of my campaign platforms was to reopen Burgwin as a Pittsburgh Public School,” said new school board member Terry Kennedy.
Kennedy says she wants to see a financial analysis of reopening Burgwin, but the community says it will now be looking elsewhere to open a charter.
Smith: “I do believe there is going to be school in Hazelwood in the fall of 2014, so money is going to be shifted around.”
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “But it’s not going to be a Burgwin?”
Kennedy: “Doesn’t look like it right now.”
Also, despite all of the vacant properties, board member Mark Brentley has scheduled a committee meeting to study the purchase of the debt riddle August Wilson Center.
Kennedy says she needs to get a full picture of these issues before making decisions.
“Because if you make rash decision, they come back and haunt you. I want to see all the data. I want to make a data-driven decision,” said Kennedy.
Sheehan: “Do you think the board will deal with this deficit?”
Kennedy: “I’m sure it will because we have not choice.”
The budget deficit will not go away without some very tough decisions by the board.
Meanwhile, schools like Burgwin remain unsold and will like stay that way if the board wants to pick and chose whom it will sell to.