Do Clairton’s Claims Add Up?
One day after making his budget address, the Governor visited Clairton School District in Allegheny County and met with the District’s Superintendent, who noted that “I’m proud he’s advocating for us…Somebody needs to.” The school board president added that “In recent years, Clairton has had to lay off 32 staff in a district whose workforce used to number nearly 100”. It is not clear what year the 100 staff level was in place, but according to Department of Education data K-12 enrollment in Clairton fell 22 percent from 1993-94 to 2013-14, so it is not unreasonable to expect a reduction in staff.
The Governor stated “I understand you can’t throw money at any problem…but you can’t keep taking money out … and hope to get a good result.” Since the Governor is likely speaking to state revenue, a quick look at enrollment, state revenue, and state revenue per pupil in Clairton is warranted. Again, data was taken from the PA Department of Education’s summary of annual financial reports:
2010-11–Enrollment (average daily membership) 938/state revenue $8,625,652/state revenue per pupil of $9,195 (the average in Allegheny County was $4,750)
2011-12–936/$9,228,567/$9,854 per pupil ($5,010 average for Allegheny County)
2012-13–915/$9,378,150/$10,248 per pupil ($5,204 average for Allegheny County)
2013-14–916/$9,634,626/$10,507 per pupil ($5,631 average in Allegheny County)
Clairton’s state revenue per pupil increased 14% in the four most recent fiscal years available through the state’s Department of Education. If enrollment had not fallen by 2.3% state revenue per pupil would have increased 12 percent. In 2013-14, Clairton’s state revenue per pupil ranked 2nd out of 43 school districts in Allegheny County (behind Duquesne).