SCRANTON -- The state auditor general lodged some serious accusations of financial mismanagement at the Scranton School District Tuesday.
We're learning more from district officials about how things got so out of control.
The state auditor general called the Scranton School District's financial situation, "self-inflicted distress."
He used words including "unbelievable" and "reckless" to describe some of the financial decisions made.
But the school board president says the district's debt is not as "self-inflicted" as it may seem, and the auditor general's remarks lacked context.
"Do you think the auditor general's assessment yesterday was fair?"
"No," said board president Bob Sheridan. "No, I don't because by saying what he said, he's putting it on the current board. The past two, three years he's been saying this board, this board, this administration. It isn't. it's been from 10 years ago."
Sheridan will leave the school board in December after losing in the primary election. He says the state can't place all the blame on the current board. He says he only just learned about some of the district's most persisting financial drains.
For example, the district's exclusive mechanic named Dan Sansky who runs Danny's Auto Service in Scranton's south side. Sansky did not return our calls and his shop was locked up.
The auditor general's office found close to $700,000 in bills for work that can't be traced because the invoices were vague. On top of that, Sansky and his wife had been receiving school district insurance since 2005.
We asked Sheridan how that could happen for so long without the school board knowing about it.
"I got to ask the auditor general that, too. There were five audits done, OK? And nobody brought it up with the audit prior to this last audit. We didn't see it, they didn't see it. I don't know how it got through," Sheridan said.
Rosemary Boland, president of the Scranton Federation of Teachers, says she knew about the mechanic's benefits a few years ago. Her office even filed a Right To Know request about it.
"I don't think saying, 'I didn't know, we did not know,' I don't think that counts as a reason. It's your job to know. You ran for a public office, you should be held accountable for it," Boland said.
Scranton's teachers' union has been working without a contract since August. Boland has a message for the board before they head back to the negotiating table.
"The district seems to think that this union, the teachers' union and the paraprofessionals' union, that we're going to make up the $30 million deficit. Well, they can think again. No, we are not, we cannot give up our jobs, we can't give up our salaries to make up for the mistakes that they have made."
Sheridan says the state's audit doesn't account for the loss of state education funds.
"We're in trouble, part of it's our fault, part of its things we didn't do correctly. Part of it's the state's fault. The state had a big impasse, we had pension demands, all that built up on us fast," Sheridan said.
"To just keep digging your heels in and saying, 'it's the state's fault, or it's the feds fault. it's everybody's fault.' no, it's not everybody's fault. we all have to take responsibility and go forward and try to resolve this mess," said Boland.
The Scranton Federation of Teachers could go out on strike the teachers have voted to authorize one but they have not set a strike date.