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PPS Budget Q&A

A+ Schools and the Pittsburgh Public Schools Budget  June 2011

 

Q: Why is A+ Schools holding community discussions on the city school budget?

A: Faced with a $100 million spending-revenue gap, the Pittsburgh Public School District is grappling with very difficult decisions that will have a great impact on city schools. A+ Schools believes it is important for the community — especially families with children attending our most vulnerable schools — to participate in setting fair spending priorities.

This is a defining moment for Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS). These meetings give you the chance to shape the decision-making process and what kind of school district we will have.


Q: What is the goal of the community meeting?

A: Equitable opportunities and closing the achievement gap are a continuing concern for all who care about our schools. We want to involve families of low-income students and their advocates so their voices are heard. We believe that community involvement can result in fair spending cuts that will narrow that gap.


Q: How does this tie into the goals and mission of A+ Schools?

A: A+ Schools strives to be a community force advancing educational achievement for every student. Our mission is to inform and involve the public to hold both the schools and community accountable for providing high quality teaching and learning for all.


Q: What else is A+ Schools doing to address the school budget problem?

A: As an independent advocate for improved public education, it is our responsibility to verify the district’s analysis of the problem and evaluate cost-saving proposals. That’s why we hired William J. Johns as an independent financial analyst to review the school budget and establish a model that looks at equity. This analysis will help A+ Schools and the community to more objectively evaluate the district’s financial proposals. We’ll also ask him to set up a “budget scorecard” to monitor the budget based on community priorities.


Q: Who is Mr. Johns?

A: Mr. Johns is a former senior vice president-finance of PNC Financial Services who brings private sector expertise as well as an intimate knowledge of PPS finances. He retired in 2005 after 31 years with PNC and served as interim CFO of Pittsburgh Public Schools in 2006/07.


Q: Will A+ Schools hold more community meetings?

A: Yes. During July, we’ll work with neighborhood groups to hold a series of meetings in targeted areas throughout the city. At each meeting, participants will use hand-held polling devices to express their views on budget priorities. This information will be compiled into a report and delivered to the PPS. It also will be used as a basis for evaluating PPS budget proposals.

Additional meetings may be held in the fall as a means of sharing information with the public and promoting dialogue.


Q: Do you have any specific goals?

A: Our goal this summer is to collaborate with at least four neighborhood partners as hosts of four meetings. We hope at least 400 community members will take part in these discussions.


Q: What are the bottom line results A+ Schools hopes to achieve?

A: A+ Schools seeks to inform, engage and mobilize the community to become constructively involved in these budget discussions. We believe this is critical to ensure that even with the anticipated budget cuts, Pittsburgh will have a high-performing school district that provides excellent opportunities for all students.

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on March, 2014