The question from Pittsburgh Public Schools board member Thomas Sumpter was blunt:
"By 2015, are we broke, out of business?"
District budget analyst Ronald Joseph's answer Monday night was equally blunt:
Mr. Joseph had just given the school board a preview of the 2013 budget and beyond.
The proposal, which will be unveiled on Nov. 14, at this point calls for a calendar year budget of $521.8 million, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the current year. In October, the estimate for 2013 was $516.6 million, a 2.5 percent decrease.
The board is scheduled to vote on the budget on Dec. 19. The current proposal holds taxes steady.
Superintendent Linda Lane said traditional school cuts will not be enough to resolve the problem but said the district will have to "look at things substantially differently."
District officials expect to finish 2012 in better financial condition than had been forecast at the start of the year. Even so, there is expected to be a deficit of $6.39 million. The deficit is forecast to grow to $9.86 million in 2013, $29.93 million in 2014, $42.78 million in 2015 and $52.95 million.
The size of the deficit in 2015 is larger that what is expected to be left in the district's fund balance at that point.
Pete Camarda, chief financial and operations officer, said, "Our numbers are very scary, and they are not building in any potential reduction of [state] revenue."
Education writer Eleanor Chute: email@example.com or 412-263-1955.