For At Least 20 Years, Interlocking Problems Have Plagued Wilkinsburg Schools

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the Wilkinsburg School District, almost half of students don’t graduate.

A third of students have been involved in incidents that threatened school safety.  On state tests, 86.4 percent of 11th graders aren’t proficient in math and 68.3 percent aren’t proficient in reading.

The district is hemorrhaging students to charter schools.  It borrowed $3 million for general operating expenses and has furloughed about 80 teachers in the past three years.

Some residents are taken aback when asked for their assessment of the district, seeing it as self-evident that the district has already fallen off the cliff.

“Honestly, it’s too far gone,” said Wilkinsburg resident Stephanie Shea.  “Code blue happened a while ago.  At this point, it needs to be totally dismantled.”

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Playing With Philadelphia’s Tax Money

Editor’s note:  Here’s another reason they call Pottstown “little Philadelphia“.   Just change out Philadelphia with Pottstown.  Same problems, just a smaller scale but equally as devastating to the residents of both communities.

Philadelphia’s decades-long neglect of property-tax collections has been a disaster for public schools, the city budget, and typical taxpaying homeowners.

But the system does have its advantages for low-rent landlords, out-of-town speculators, and anyone else interested in playing property Powerball, a game where the objective is to pile up real estate in hope of hitting a gentrification jackpot, while keeping out-of-pocket expenses – like taxes – as low as possible.

Some are big winners, such as the investor who picked up three adjacent Northern Liberties lots in 1994 for a combined $16,000, skipped paying taxes on the lots for more than a decade, and made good on the debt only after flipping the parcels for $750,000 in 2010.

Such speculative windfalls are rare, but it’s not for lack of trying.  Of the roughly 100,000 tax-delinquent properties in Philadelphia, at least 57,500 are owned by investors, not occupants. These are parcels deeded to suburbanites and Floridians, developers and Brooklyn-based holding companies, small-time local speculators and real estate tycoons with dozens of properties to their name.

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Rewrite Of Pennsylvania Property Tax Sale Laws Is Tool In Blight Fight

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This can’t happen soon enough!

HARRISBURG – Affordable housing advocates are urging a reform of Pennsylvania’s property tax sale laws to help fight blight in both large cities and small towns.

They want to overhaul a system that allows speculators to obtain a lien on property at tax sales by paying delinquent taxes and yet not go the next step and obtain clear title.

Other legislation being sought would give long-standing residents the opportunity to take ownership of homes in cases where the recorded owner has abandoned them and put more restrictions on who can bid at property tax sales.

Rewriting archaic tax sale laws that date to the 1920s and 1940s is seen as a way to help fiscally distressed cities rebuild their tax bases and help get newly authorized land banks off the ground.

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