The Erie City School District could make history if it is removed from state financial control.
On August 10, school board members met with Governor Wolf’s appointee to help them overcome the hurdle.
Earlier this year, the district met all the criteria to be removed from financial watch, but they needed a financial administrator to complete the process.
Now the district could be just weeks away from being removed from financial watch.
Erie City School Board members met with Governor Wolf’s new financial administrator appointed to the district to complete the financial watchdog removal process.
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“We’re going to put together credible information, look at the progress that’s been made, look at the ongoing problems that are occurring and how we can overcome them and come up with a plan that’s credible that covers all the bases,” James said. Ohrn, Financial Administrator, Erie City School District.
Getting a financial manager was the last piece of the puzzle.
“Last December’s financial projection showed that we met the requirements to be removed from financial watch. The only problem was that we couldn’t do that without a financial administrator being appointed,” said Brian Polito, the district’s superintendent. school of the city of Erie.
Ohrn said he starts his first day next week and already has a plan.
“I’m going to take an objective look at the financial plan that they put together in 2019 before COVID and I’m going to look at the last two years to see if changes have been made,” Ohrn said.
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The Erie school district has been on financial watch since 2017 after receiving millions of dollars from the state to help with funding.
“So even though we found out that we were the poster child for the last broken funding formula, we were one of the most underfunded school districts in the state and we’re actually months away from even making payroll. It was the only option we had was to advocate for additional funding,” Polito said.
There are 500 school districts in Pennsylvania. Superintendent Polito said the Erie City School District is one of 12 others that are on financial watch or recovery.
“We’ve worked hard as a district to stabilize our finances, and I’m told we’ll also be the first school district in the history of the commonwealth to be removed from financial watch. So we’re excited to celebrate the milestone.” Polito said.
Polito expects the district to be off financial watch within a month.
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The financial administrator said he will continue to meet with board members to update them on the plan.