Erie City School District could make history if it’s removed from the state financial watch.
On August 10, school board members met the man appointed by Governor Wolf to help guide them over the hurdle.
Earlier this year the district met all the criteria to be taken off financial watch, but they needed a financial administrator to complete the process.
Now the district could only be weeks away from being removed from financial watch.
Erie City School Board members met the new financial administrator appointed by Governor Wolf to the district to complete the process of getting off of financial watch.
“We are going to put together credible information, look at the progress that has been made, look at the continuing issues that occur, and how we can overcome them and put together a plan that is credible that covers all the basis,” said James Ohrn, Financial Administrator, City of Erie School District.
Getting a financial administrator was the last piece of the puzzle.
“This past December out financial projection showed that we met the requirements to be removed from financial watch. The only hitch was that we couldn’t do that without a financial administrator being appointed,” said Brian Polito, Superintendent of Erie City School District.
Ohrn said that he begins his first day next week and he already has a plan.
“I’m going to take an objective view of the financial plan that they put together in 2019 pre-COVID and look over the last two years to see if any changes have been made,” said Ohrn.
The Erie School District has been on financial watch since 2017 after receiving millions of dollars from the state to help with funding.
“So while we discovered that we were the poster child for past broken funding formula, we were one of the most underfunded school districts in the state, and we’re actually months away from not even making payroll. It was the only option we had was to advocate for additional funding,” said Polito.
There are 500 school districts in Pennsylvania. Superintendent Polito said that the Erie City School District is one of 12 others that are either on financial watch or recovery.
“We’ve worked hard as a district to stabilize our finances and we will also from what I’ve been told be the first school district in the history of the commonwealth to be removed from financial watch. So we are excited to celebrate the milestone,” said Polito.
Polito hopes that the district will be out of financial watch within one month.
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The financial administrator said that he will continue meeting with board members to give updates on the plan.