The Morning Call, Allentown School District Superintendent Russ Mayo, is asking local business leaders to review their anemic finances and come up with answers. This sounds a lot like King Edwin's "blue ribbon" committee that was going to solve all of the Queen City's financial problems. That went nowhere. That's because, despite all the claims about government running like a business, they are different animals. But there's a solution for Allentown's School District. Draw and quarter it! Not like the good ol' days, with William Wallace crying "Freedom!" But it's time to split this failing school district into four quarters.
ASD has two issues that are almost impossible to resolve at the local level.
First, the pension contributions needed to sustain the unsustainable defined benefit public education pensions can only be changed at the state level. The benefits are defined in Harrisburg, not in Allentown. The salaries of teachers and administrators may or may not be beyond reasonable, but the pensions and benefits that accompany them are ridiculous.
Second, the Allentown model, like the Reading or Lancaster model of purely urban districts, is unsustainable. It is basically impossible to generate real estate taxes to cover expenses.
No suburban school district is willing to consolidate with Allentown, unless mandated by the state and that isn't going to happen. Instead of forcing Allentown to marry Parkland, Whitehall, Catasauqua, or Salisbury School District (the four adjacent districts to Allentown), why not marry Allentown to them all?
Break Allentown up into four pieces and mandate that the surrounding school districts each absorb a piece. It's better than trying to compel one of them to partner with Allentown to save it. Parkland could get West Allentown; Whitehall would sleep with North Allentown; Salisbury could cuddle with South Allentown, and Catasauqua could spoon with East Allentown.
The current state subsidies provided to Allentown could be split among the four school districts with those getting the smallest amount of tax ratable real estate getting more of the subsidy.
Just looking at the budget and seeing where to "make cuts" is a waste of time. That's already happened.