Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

School District Begins Financial Recovery Penn Hills Begins Financial Recovery

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

School District Begins Financial Recovery Penn Hills Begins Financial Recovery

Article excerpt

Penn Hills School District officials say they are now rolling up their sleeves to get to work after the State Department of Education approved its financial recovery plan on June 16.

Dan Matsook, the district's state-appointed financial recovery officer, crafted the plan with the help of a special advisory committee after the state placed the district in financial recovery status because it faces $170 million in debt.

Although the plans were approved by the state, officials asked the district to amend its recovery plan because the board did not follow Mr. Matsook's recommendation to raise taxes in the 2019-2020 budget.

Mr. Matsook said he is reviewing solutions to fill in the budget gap and that the state has not yet provided a due date to submit the amendment. He also wants to add other changes to the amendment such as a curriculum audit to improve student performances after discovering the district had not conducted a curriculum audit in several years.

Some of the first steps the district will take is hiring outside consultants to audit various aspects of the school district, starting with plant services, transportation and special education.

"We're going to hit the ground running because I believe that there are some efficiencies that I think we can gain in all three of those areas," Mr. Matsook said.

In addition to the audit, Penn Hills was recently approved by the Private Industry Council to operate two pre-kindergarten classrooms at the high school, where the district can rent the space for outside organizations to use.

The district also will focus on academic initiatives in the middle school such as formative assessments in every classroom that will call for professional development training to prepare for the first week of school.

The board also recently approved tuition costs for Penn Hills ROTC students to complete their training at Plum High School after the program was shut down after a drop in candidates. …

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