Monday, March 26, 2012

PPG article on effects of budget cuts on schools

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Make a seperate post-plese read and give comments...

City schools learning to do more with less

Pittsburgh Post Gazette
The first question is not cost but equity: What should all children have in the Pittsburgh Public Schools? The second is: How can that be accomplished and save money? The result is a plan -- now in its final stages of development -- that changes the ... "


Watching from Harrisburg said...

Fascinating article.

The district's actual 2011 expenditures reported at the March 2012 Board meeting were really $10,845,886.51 higher than fiscal 2010 (see page 51 of the PDF file of the minutes). After all the press releases, the district still spent more in 2011 than it did in 2010.

Be that as it may, the operating surplus of $6,154,534.19 (also found on page 51 of the PDF file of the March 2012 minutes) is $14,110,783 higher than the projected deficit of $7,956,248.81 reported in the December 2011 minutes (see page 89 of the PDF file of the minutes).

The district, however, presents fiscal 2011 as a deficit of $124,398 in their March 2012 forecast (see page 52 of the PDF file of the minutes), with a footnote that reads "2011 Revenues are adjusted for the effect of $6,288,556.74 of accelerated Earned Income Tax Collection due to the change in Tax Collector."

Although the minutes of the Allegheny Central Tax Collection Committee (City of Pittsburgh, School District of Pittsburgh, Borough of Mt. Oliver) reflect a policy decision to have Jordan Tax Services start receiving revenues in December 2011 instead of January 2012 as previously planned, the district's November 2011 financial statements published in the December minutes reflect that earned income tax collections were $7,955,767.61 higher by November 30, 2011 than they were at November 30, 2010.

In other words, the slightly early transition to Jordan Tax Services appears to have nothing to do whatsoever with the year end earned income tax collection figures.

What changed in the 31 days of December 2011 that the actual fiscal position changed by $14.1 million?

I have to wonder out loud why PFT is not jumping up and down, crying foul. Does this change the number of furloughs or not?

Perhaps Mark and his slate of candidates can make the $14.1 million dollars in 31 days variance part of their campaign.

It certainly appears based on her last two articles that Eleanor is not doing any real homework.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a Little to heavy for me. Can you please Break it down a little more.
What is the operating surplus? And what is significant about it being higher than projected deficit?

What is signifcant about the 2011 fiscal deficit and this foot note and tac collector information?

What is signifcant about this jordan tax changes or not changes? Pft may not be jumping because they dont understand the details of the numbers. Is there something fishy going on here?

What slate of candidates are you refering too? He me out here, I just a old laid off worker of PPS trying to figure why after 27 years I lost my job. Thanks

Anonymous said...

What happen to the company that the district was paying 50,000.00 a month to help them us out of this financial Jam?

Questioner said...

It was going to be Two Bells or Three Bells, then that didn't work out so they went with a different company (wasn't that the group from Detroit that is also consulting for Antioch?). Does anyone know what either of these companies have done?

Questioner said...

It will always be difficult for small schools to offer everything big schools offer, but small schools most likely offer other benefits such as being "neighborhood schools" kids can walk to rather than spending time on buses, or smaller class sizes.

And will it really make a much of a difference for a school to have a librarian one day a week? It would be interesting to have the one day a week librarian keep an accurate log and find out how much one to one librarian time each child actually receives and how much time is spent on things like ordering materials, handling correspondence, arranging for repairs, etc. General group overviews about the library could probably just as well be presented by the students' regular teacher; it's the individualized attention and having a librarian there when needed that make a difference.

Watching from Harrisburg said...

Anon 8:34 pm:

Let's take your questions a couple at a time.

Question 1: what was the operating surplus in fiscal 2011?

Answer 1: as reported in the district's own statements published in March, $6.2 million.

Question 2: what is the significance of the surplus?

Answer 2: several points:

1. Either Eleanor Chute from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette was mislead or negligent in reporting that 2011 actually ended in a deficit of roughly $150,000.

2. The $400,000 spent on fiscal consultants on 2011 did not help the district's accuracy. As late as December 2011 the district was projecting nearly an $8 million deficit for a fiscal year that ended December 31, 2011.

So with just a couple of weeks to go, PPS was off by $14.1 million dollars. Everyday math?

3. Now before we quickly dismiss the $14.1 million rounding error, let's remember that PPS is busy preparing to furlough 400 classroom teachers.

So how many teachers does $14.1 million buy? I'm guessing at least 141, including benefits.

4. PPS tries to cover up the inaccuracy by blaming it on the pending change in earned income tax collectors that really starts in the December-January timeframe. Nice try, but the numbers just don't support it. The variance in EIT collections at the end of November was already $8 million positive, so in fact the transitioned REDUCED the EIT trend by close to $2 million in December (a so-called implementation dip).

More answers to your other questions later. I'll pause here to see if the first question is answered to your satisfaction.

Anonymous said...

Eleanor Chute did what newspaper reporters in Pittsburgh now do---provide puff pieces for public consumption. This type of public relations went on and on about teachers having to do more with much, much less and yet, saw the "journalist" failing miserably in her charge to educate the public. Anyone wondering why teachers were being furloughed and not individuals who are NOT involved with the instruction of students---in classrooms---was left wondering.

How do you NOT ask that question?

How does a journalist not ask about the bloat within central administration somehow maintaining itself without furloughs?

I would have expected to see junior high journalists writing more responsibly but again, Pittsburghers don't care to ask questions beyond who the Steelers are playing.

Outrageous piece of reporting which now is decorating my trashcan.

Anonymous said...

(New topic please)

I know there are college ads etc. throughout this flyer, BUT it still seems very expensive and showy given the budget crisis in this city. Who was the intended audience and what results were expected? Are students really impressed with large print ads? are parents? I'm sure the printer was impressed!

Anonymous said...

Yes I got that flyer too. Infact I got two. What I waste of money. How could they justify spending all that money of a great big glossing when people are losing jobs. Priorites are messed up these days.