Board Bemoans Pittsburgh Schools Job Cuts

With moans of regret and lamentations over the sadness they felt, members of the Pittsburgh School Board voted by an 8 to 1 margin to eliminate 217 positions from its horribly bloated payroll. Of that number 147 represents currently employed staff that will be laid off in the budget cutting measure that is expected to save $11.5 million.

Here’s the bad news for the board. Their budget cutting is just getting started. Last November the Allegheny Institute warned the school board of a gigantic impending financial crisis about to land on its doorstep. Despite sharply declining enrollment and falling real estate tax collections during the 2006 to 2010 period, school spending continued to rise as new non-teaching employees were added in a display of unbridled profligacy and irresponsibility. The burgeoning future budget shortfall was temporarily filled by jumps in state funding and Federal "stimulus" funds.

As we have pointed out for some time, the state would eventually have to rein in spending in the face of a $4 billion revenue shortfall and Federal funds would dry up as the Congress turns its attention to exploding deficits and economy corroding debt buildup. Now the wolf is at the school house door in Pittsburgh as a result of years of failed financial stewardship and failure to deliver schools capable of adequately educating students.

No amount of pointing out their highly visible shortcomings was ever enough. The board, the teachers’ union, the superintendents and too many politicians in thrall to the specious malarkey of educrats resisted any meaningful reforms, opting for gimmicks and ever more spending as the answer to the problem of delivering quality education.

One could hope that game is over. But in all likelihood, the board’s lachrymose caterwauling as they voted to cut 217 positions signals an unrepentant mentality that continues to believe that in a couple of years, things will get back to normal.

Given the prospects for further enrollment declines and a much tougher stance in Harrisburg with regard to the unproductive and wasteful use of education dollars in the City, the board’s hopes for a miracle on a white horse to ride in are wishful dreaming. It is a good time for the board to lay in a large supply of crying towels.