PENN HILLS, Pa. (KDKA) — Cuts, furloughs and tax hikes are all on the table for Penn Hills School District’s proposed 2010-2020 budget. And some residents’ tempers are flaring.
“Every time you turn around, they want to be in your pocket, ain’t nobody got money like that,” says resident Patrick Frazier.
Cutting the pre-kindergarten and the high school’s Navy Junior ROTC program, 57 furloughs and a near 7% hike in real estate tax were all discussed at the Penn Hills School Board meeting Monday night.
Jackie Blakey-Tate says she was so upset about the proposed budget, she decided to do something about it.
“Since I had some experience in education and I am retired and have some time, I decided to run as a write-in candidate for Penn Hills School Board, and that’s what I did.”
Board President Erin Vecchio says the district’s financial hole began when Penn Hills built a new high school and elementary school. Before the elementary school building could be finished, she says, the money ran out.
“So they had to go borrow more money, which gave us more debt and they just kept doing it and doing it instead of fixing the problems.”
The district is $172 million in debt. Vecchio says she gets the cuts and the layoffs, but will not vote for a property tax hike.
“The budget is balanced, we finally have a balanced budget, it’s the fact that we have two schools that we have to pay for. The state has to give us money to bail us out. We can’t fix this being taxed,” said the board’s president.
There is a town meeting on June 3 to give residents a chance to talk about the recovery plan. The board votes June 24.