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Fund for Excellence Grant Initiates Large Scale District Envisioning Process


PITTSBURGH, January 16, 2013— Like school districts across the country, Pittsburgh Public Schools must begin to think differently about how it delivers a 21st Century education as revenues decrease and expenditures, out of the District’s control, increase.  To assist District leadership as it embarks on a large scale visioning process, the Board accepted a grant of $1.2 million from the Fund for Excellence to contract with consulting firms FSG and Bellwether Education Partners.  

Both firms bring experience across varying sectors of urban public education and will collaborate to provide expertise and technical assistance as the District develops its Envisioning a 21st Century Educational Delivery Model.  The firms will additionally partner with the District during an engagement period, as well as stay connected with the District for several years as it implements key pieces of the plan.   

“We know that we need to begin to think differently about our finances if we are to achieve long-term stability.  More importantly, we know that we have a responsibility to ensure that all students receive a quality education that provides them the tools they need to achieve their dreams,” said Superintendent Linda Lane.  “To date, the District has taken several steps to increase student achievement while addressing our fiscal challenges. This work has been done by gaining efficiencies on what we already have in place.  The expertise provided by FSG and Bellwether Education Partners will challenge us to think beyond our comfort zone to tackle this complex financial situation with urgency.”  

The District’s 2013 budget represents a 1.5% decrease from 2012, but does not offset increasing expenditures.  The budget includes an operating deficit of $9.8 million, requiring the District to spend resources from its dwindling fund balance. At the end of 2012 the fund balance was $66.0 million. At the end of 2013 the fund balance is expected to decline to $56.2 million. The deficit is predicted to increase each year, with the District running out of money in 2015 if changes are not made. 

The District’s Envisioning a 21st Century Educational Delivery Model process will include multiple opportunities for community engagement and input. To ensure transparency in the process, the District will form a 50-60 person advisory committee comprised of representatives from the Board, District, civic and business leadership, parents and community members.  Additionally, the process will include opportunities for community dialogue through multiple channels, including focus groups, public meetings, listening sessions and social media. 

The work of the Envisioning a 21st Century Educational Delivery Model will help to inform the District’s Strategic Plan.  The six year plan, a requirement of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, is due to the state in 2014.