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Penn Hills School District exits financial recovery, now in monitoring stage

Penn Hills school district bounces back from financial woes
Penn Hills School District bounces back from financial woes 02:28

PENN HILLS, Pa. (KDKA) -- The Penn Hills School District is now in the monitoring stage after poor financial decisions led to a deficit in the millions.

"When I left the school board in 2009, we had money in the bank -- not much -- but then when I got back on the school board in 2015, we were $18 million in the hole. It was just shocking to me," said school board president Erin Vecchio.

In 2019, the matter of fiscal mismanagement went before an Allegheny County grand jury, and while charges were not recommended, it said the district was in catastrophic financial condition and put the blame on poor leadership, which is no longer with the district. 

"It was put on us to save this school," said Vecchio.

So the state stepped in to provide guidance. Five years later, the district is exiting financial recovery and hoping to do more. 

"We went from a negative savings account to a trickling cash flow," said chief recovery officer Dr. Daniel Matsook.

"We had zero money in our capital reserve, now we're looking to renovate this building," Matsook continued.

The district's recovery plan includes a tax increase. John Zahorchak, the director of operations for Penn Hills, said he understands that the tax burden is higher than most schools in the county. As a result, the increases will be in waves, eventually totaling a $2 milllion increase.  

Zahorchak told KDKA it will help keep a healthy fund balance for unanticipated expenses.

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