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Pittsburgh Public Schools' proposed 2023 budget spends more with one-time federal funding

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

On today’s episode of The Confluence: 

Pittsburgh Public Schools’ proposed budget reduces deficit slightly
(0:00 - 7:25)

Pittsburgh Public Schools’ administration has proposed a preliminary 2023 budget. The board has a virtual, public hearing next month on the proposal.

It’s a $675.9 million spending plan, a 1.5% increase from this year’s budget, but the deficit is smaller: $2 million compared to $27 million.

“The district is using a lot of federal relief money from the pandemic to supplement that deficit. And that's, you know, in hopes that they can continue programming and not lay off staff,” says WESA education reporter, Sarah Schneider. “The increase is for things that the district says are out of their control, like charter school costs and retirement costs for its staff.”

The district is hoping to raise a million dollars from a new bus patrol program where drivers will be fined for illegally passing a school bus when the stop sign is extended. The board will also consider closing schools, as the district’s enrollment has dropped and some buildings cost too much to maintain.

The PPS board will vote whether to adopt the budget at its Dec. 21 meeting.

Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania welcomes a new president and CEO
(7:32 - 17:02)

On Friday, President Joe Biden declared Nov. 20 National Child’s Day. This proclamation recognizes the importance of children’s voices in national issues and calls on more investment in education and programs to help youth.

Across the country, and in Pittsburgh, the Boys & Girls Clubs for many years have been a resource for both education and community. Most recently, the organization’s western Pennsylvania branch has named a new President and CEO, Chris Watts.

Watts says the mission of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania attracted him, along with the impact the organization has directly had on him and his family.

“[Pennsylvania is] one of the few states that does not have a dedicated budget focused on out of school time and for opportunities for kids,” says Watts. “We've just talked about potential budget cuts at Pittsburgh Public Schools and community programs like Boys & Girls Club are essential to providing resources to support kids and helping them thrive through various channels.”

Watts’ started in the position last week and says he looks forward to prioritizing community-based solutions in the organization’s work to support kids.

Research suggests low-income communities can thrive and resist losing residents with the help of good policies
(17:09 - 22:30)

People who live in low-income neighborhoods endure poorer quality of life, and when life there improves, they often can’t afford to stay. Rohit Acharya and Rhett Morris lead a research firm called Common Good Labs. For 15 years they studied these places, including some in Pittsburgh, and found that hundreds of communities got better without losing residents.

Acharya and Morris tell 90.5 WESA’s Margaret J. Krauss that any neighborhood can resist gentrification if leaders help provide the right conditions.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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