Penn Hills School District

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Police shot and killed a Penn Hills High School teacher who they say pointed a gun at them outside his home.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Longtime Penn Hills resident Eugene Berry said he recently advised his daughter and son-in-law to not buy a home in the Penn Hills School District.

He told a room full of more than 200 other community members that he was concerned about the impact the school district’s financial condition would have on the municipality.

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The Penn Hills School District’s financial position is “catastrophic,” according to an Allegheny County grand jury report released Tuesday.

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Pennsylvania  Rep. Tony DeLuca is calling on the state’s Department of Education to step in and oversee the Penn Hills School District’s finances.

Last week, the school board approved increasing property taxes for the second year in a row, just months after Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released an audit that found the district had accumulated more than $170 million dollars of debt.

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Five years ago, the Penn Hills School District was in $11 million in debt. Today, a recent audit revealed the district is $170 million in debt and is also under investigation for alleged mismanagement of money.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is a part of the team tackling 74 pages of an audit detailing the district’s spending from July 2012 through June 2015 and revealed spending habits that led to what DePasquale describes as “almost unsurmountable” debt.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of teachers, parents and alumni attended a Penn Hills School District board meeting Tuesday night, to protest a decision to furlough more than 40 teachers.

The district will also cut more than 20 elective courses including arts, law and math courses. 

The school board voted 7-2 in favor of the plan. The changes go into effect at the end of this school year.

Superintendent Nancy Hines said the district has been fighting for its life and faces a possible state takeover. Last year, Penn Hills had to borrow $20 million and anticipates a deficit this year.

As the Penn Hills School District seeks an $18 million bond to cover operational costs, state Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Allegheny) is asking state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to get the bottom of the district’s fiscal woes.

DeLuca is calling for a full audit of the district’s budget after last week’s announcement that the district would seek court approval for the bond in order to meet debt service, payroll and retirement fund obligations.