This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Former District fiscal chief Michael Masch will start work next week as vice president for finance and chief financial officer of Manhattan College, a Catholic institution in New York City.
The college’s press release announcing his appointment praised his work in Philadelphia. It said he "generated the district’s first surpluses in a decade, significantly reduced operating costs, pioneered new investments in smaller class sizes, and improved instructional technology and other reform measures. In 2011, he relinquished supervision of district operations to focus full time on a massive budget crisis that confronted the district in the wake of a 15 percent cut in state and federal funding."
In the statement, college president Brendan O’Donnell said that the college "is a beneficiary of his decision" to leave government and return to higher education.
Masch, who had previously worked as Pennsylvania’s budget director under Gov. Rendell and as a vice president at the University of Pennsylvania, steered the District through tough financial waters — and not always smoothly.
In his last two years, Masch faced a precipitous drop in state and federal funding, coupled with higher costs for charters and ever-escalating fixed obligations. The District made massive cuts in personnel and services, but it was not enough.
During the budget crisis, Masch’s job required navigating between then-Superintendent Arlene Ackerman — who was determined to maintain or expand favored programs through her Imagine 2014 initiative — and the mammoth fiscal crisis brought on by the shrinking revenues. He and Ackerman reportedly stopped communicating. In January 2012, the School Reform Commission ultimately announced a fiscal Armageddon and brought in Thomas Knudsen as chief recovery officer, demoting Masch to adviser status. He left the District in May.
Manhattan, in Riverdale, the Bronx, has 3,400 students and 40 programs of study. Founded in 1853, it is run by the de La Salle Christian Brothers.
Masch said in the statement that he is excited to work for an institution with Manhattan’s commitment to service and social justice. "This College is a very special place — small enough that everyone matters, big enough to offer a diverse and exceptional range of educational experiences. … It is an honor to be here.”
He starts his new position on Jan. 22.