Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Pittsburgh Public Schools, finally managing decline...

Last night, decades after the closing of steel mills helped accelerate a population decline that had already begun, the Pittsburgh School Board finally voted to 6-3 to close 22 schools to save $10.3 million annually. (Link: PG article and chart outlining the plan)

Where the private sector restructures quickly and mercilessly with thousands of jobs and even entire companies disappearing in an instant, reforming civic institutions is a painful and public process. A community is forced to look within itself and make decisions to walk away from principles and institutions it once held dear, and was even willing to sustain by elevating the tax burden for years.

This is a tough decision.

Rather than face the fact that Pittsburgh may have too many professional sports franchises to sustain, we pursued (are pursuing?) publicly financed arenas that charge higher prices, thereby taking an even higher percentage of income to sustain them. We justify this by our collective embarrasment at perhaps not being perceived as "major league."

Rather than face the fact that the City of Pittsburgh may not need as much infrastructure, whether that be police protection, fire protection, etc, we forced ourselves into bankruptcy where outsiders would be appointed to do what's in our economic interest.

Like a family that is forced to acknowledge that it can no longer make its car payment and must trade down, our community is facing the reality that are infrastructure is too large to sustain and that the students to fill those empty chairs are never coming back. We hope that we're making the right decisions to sustain the quality of life and quality of opportunity for those that choose to live here.

1 Comments:

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Mark Rauterkus said...

Perhaps you are on the mark -- perhaps this is just another smoke-filled deal that only manages to make more of a decline.

Some of the plan is okay. Some of the plan is good. Some of the plan is very bad. Mostly, a good deal of the plan hurts -- and I'm fine with belt-tightening-pain.

But then don't go ahead and grant a tax break to a hand-picked developer for a parking lot in an area where there is no demand to suburban office workers who only drive cars to the city -- while the schools and kids get the short end of the stick again.

 

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