Are Bankrupt Cities Foreshadowing the Future of Schools?
In July, San Bernardino became the third city in California to file for bankruptcy. California isn’t alone, however. In Scranton, Pa., for example, the mayor made a bold move by paying the city’s workers minimum wage, prompting a universal “gulp” from public employees across the country.
San Bernardino has put much of the blame on rising pension costs it owes to city employees, which has been a problem for school districts around the country. In Scranton, Pa., pension contributions for area school districts are projected to increase by $172.9 million, according to Pennsylvania newspaper, Citizen’s Voice. Pennsylvania superintendents fear they may face the same fate as faltering U.S. cities and declare bankruptcy. Pennsylvania legislators are hoping pension reform takes center stage in next year’s legislature to avoid school districts from bottoming out.
“That doesn’t help a single educational program,” said Abington Heights Superintendent Michael Mahon of the increased pension costs to Citizen’s Voice. “It doesn’t provide one meal at lunch. It doesn’t provide a gallon of gas for a bus. It will rob us of teachers. It will rob us of opportunities.”