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PENN HILLS (KDKA) — Climbing out of a nearly $9 million budget shortfall… It’s a challenge that’s taking years in the Penn Hills School District.

Monday night, the school board talked about possible program cuts that may have to be made. KDKA’s Kym Gable asked Superintendent Dr. Nancy Hines about the protocol.

“This is just authorizing me as a superintendent to notify the Department of Education programming changes that we’re looking at that might impact staff numbers,” Hines said.

She declined to make any further comment about her discussions with District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s financial investigation of the district, launched after a 2016 audit found an accumulation of more than $170 million in debts.

penn hills school board meeting Penn Hills School Board Looks At Possible Cuts While Climbing Out Of Budget Shortfall

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Dave Colabine)

Before the meeting, she told the audience she had a discussion with the District Attorney by phone Monday. The investigation presses on with no indication of when any results might be released. The district is exploring tax hikes, furloughs and program cuts to bring the district back into the black.

“I hate to see cuts of any kind and I know there have to be cuts, but I even stated, why are the cuts always with teachers?” Jane Marra, Vice President of the PTSA at Penn Hills High School, asked. “Furlough letters were sent and I know there’s a procedure they have to follow, but teachers did receive furlough letters.”

“Although this is only the first step in the discussion process, there needs to be more explanation because I, as a student, want to know what to expect going into next year,” sophomore Ryland Amato said.

The public will get its first look at the proposed final budget on May 21.