ShareThis Page
Pittsburgh school board approves $533.6M budget |

Pittsburgh school board approves $533.6M budget

| Thursday, December 22, 2005 12:00 a.m

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board unanimously passed a $533.6 million budget Wednesday night, a move that eliminates 102 teaching jobs but holds the line on taxes.

The budget approval came at a cost. The board used about $33 million of the district’s surplus. The district still is facing a roughly $47 million operating deficit in 2007.

The budget included $14.2 million in recommended cuts announced earlier this month by school officials.

Among the cuts were $3.8 million for Superintendent Mark Roosevelt’s “right-sizing” plan, which calls for the closing of almost two dozen schools.

The board is expected to vote on Roosevelt’s plan in February.

The budget’s passing would suggest the school board agrees with the plan, but Roosevelt thought otherwise.

“I don’t think this has anything to do with the February vote,” he said. “We got done what we had to get done. I think the board understands the need to do right-sizing. But they could still vote down the right-sizing plan.”

If that happens, Roosevelt said, the board would have to readjust the budget to compensate for the cuts it passed last night.

Despite dipping into the surplus, the board was able to maintain what it projects will be a surplus that is 5 percent of its budget by the end of 2006, according to Pete Camarda, the district’s chief financial officer.

That is critical to ensure the district maintains a solid bond rating to borrow money, school officials said.

Camarda said the district still has a $26.7 million surplus.

“The budget we passed was a very tough one to pass,” board member Randall Taylor said. “I don’t think there are any more (cuts) we can do. The financial (situation) of the Pittsburgh Public Schools is very dire.”

Roosevelt echoed Taylor’s sentiment.

“We have some issues still to face,” Roosevelt said. “We will make as many cuts as we need to make. … Then we will stop.”

Of the $14.2 million in cost reductions represented by the 2006 budget, $4.3 million was trimmed from central administration. That was the largest single cut noted by the school board.

About $2.1 million was saved with the elimination of 75 regular teaching positions, 27 special-education teacher jobs and three administrators.

To balance the budget — up $3.5 million from this year — the board had to address about $20 million in cost increases with charter schools, natural gas, transportation, retirements, special education, health insurance, electricity and tax refunds.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.