Duquesne Doubly Distressed

In the historical record, the month of June has not been a kind one to the City of Duquesne. In June of 1991, on the 20th to be exact, Duquesne was declared financially distressed. Five years ago, in June of 2007, the Board of Control that administers the school district decided to close the high school and send students to one of two nearby school districts. The Control Board has a contract with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit to perform much of the management functions for the District.

There seems to be little positive news for either the City or the District. The City recently sold its sewer system to a neighboring municipal authority because it did not want to face the cost of upgrades (estimated at $14 million). The City is levying a higher wage tax on its residents and non-residents who work there under Act 47. There is no indication the City will be exiting its status anytime soon.

There are 348 students in the District according to an annual report to the Legislature from last month, and the Commonwealth spent $10.8 million, close to 70% of the District’s revenues, in the 2010-11 school year. The rates of PSSA proficiency are poor and the District has failed to meet adequate yearly progress the last two years. Plans were announced to move seventh and eighth grade students to neighboring districts, but that would hinge on legislative changes.