Pittsburgh Public Schools on pace to deplete funds; layoffs, tax hike could be coming

PITTSBURGH — Leaders of the second largest school district in Pennsylvania said they are on track to deplete its fund balance by 2023. Everything is on the table for Pittsburgh Public Schools, including layoffs and a tax hike.

“It’s very dire. Every year we have this tragic message about our budget,” said the board president Sylvia Wilson.

With a nearly $39 million deficit this year and already a $44 million deficit in 2022, the chief financial officer for PPS said the board has to act now or it’ll be too late. Half of the district’s budget goes toward teacher and staff salaries and benefits. With declining enrollment, the district is considering cutting employees to save.

“There are positions like assistant principals, teachers, counselors, social workers, were some of the positions,” said CFO Ronald Joseph. “Nobody wants to see tax increases, but it is a possibility.”

Board member Sala Udin said public trust is already at a low point because resignation of former superintendent Anthony Hamlet. Raising taxes would certainly not sit well.

“If the public is angry and lacking confidence and don’t feel like they’re welcomed stakeholders, you can’t go back and ask for a tax increase,” Udin said.

The public will be able to weigh in at a meeting on Oct. 25. The budget could be voted on days before Christmas.