PENN HILLS (KDKA) – Hundreds of people from Penn Hills packed into a town hall meeting to discuss options on how to get the district back on a sound financial footing, and why after years of mismanagement, no one was ever arrested on criminal charges.READ MORE: 'I Was Terrified:' Woman Recalls Stranger Following Her Car For Miles
“The Penn Hills School District is in the worst financial shape of any school district I’ve seen since I’ve been auditor general,” said Pennsylvania State Auditor Eugene DePasquale.
The district is mired in debt, to the tune of more than $170 million. The reason behind the debt; mainly a new high school and the consolidation of several elementary schools.
A state audit four years ago blamed the huge debt on mismanagement couple with a lack of oversight of several elementary schools.
“We can’t change what happened in the past, we can be upset about it,” said DePasquale.READ MORE: Domestic Incident Inside Of The Mall At Robinson Leads To Chaotic Scene
The state Auditor General told the overflow crowd that there is no quick fix or easy answers to the district’s debt problems without the state getting involved. And some speakers agreed.
“I do think the department of education has to have some accountability here,” said “I don’t know if forgiveness or what, but there’s no way we should be held accountable for things we didn’t know.”
DePasquale says he will be talking to Governor Tom Wolf, legislators and the state education department to figure out how the state can help the district financially.
Critics might ask, why should the state be part of the solution?MORE NEWS: Mountaineers Become Bowl-Eligible With 34-28 Win Over Kansas
“The Department of Education and Pennsylvania has a direct role in this, so, the signing off on the school building projects, there was a state involvement in that,” said DePasquale. “So at a minimum, the state has to be part of the solution. The state could have said no, and they didn’t.”