School Closings And Delays

Scranton School Board Asks for Financial Advice Following Scathing Audit

SCRANTON -- The Scranton School Board met for a work session Monday evening following Pennsylvania's Auditor General scathing report on the district's handling of its finances, calling it the worst in the state.

A message sent out on Twitter shows the Pennsylvania Auditor General continuing to take the Scranton School District to task over the handling of its finances over the past few years.

In the post, Eugene Depasquale says he “…hopes the Scranton School Board uses its work session to begin to heal its self-inflicted wounds and begin a very long, painful recovery.”

At that work session, the board seemed to be taking his advice. It heard from a financial advisory firm, hired by the State Department of Education, to give the district a five-year budget projection.

It was asked by the board to also help it with what the audit discovered.

“We have already begun to look at some of the things he pointed out and before he pointed them out and already resolved them,” said Dr. Alexis Kirijan, the district’s superintendent.

“Obviously, the board realizes the seriousness of the financial challenges they're facing and would like some assistance in both identifying and prioritizes items that can help them,” said financial advisor Dean Kaplan with Public Financial Management.

The 107-page audit found the Scranton School District to be $25 million in debt due to overspending and transportation costs.

Before the meeting, more than two dozen teachers marched in front of the administration building in protest.

“They have some severe financial problems and what we term as mismanagement and some serious issues that they need to take care of immediately,” said teacher Pat Festa.

Taxpayers at the meeting were outraged.

“As a taxpayer, I'm embarrassed to say I live in Scranton,” said Joan Hodowanitz.

That financial advisory firm is working to close a gap in the district's 2018 budget proposal, which needs to be approved before the end of the year.

7 comments

  • JohnKimball

    If they can’t manage the school district’s budget without outside help, then what is their purpose? It’s like the consultant interview scene from Office Space: “What is it — you do here?”.

  • Thomas

    The writing is on the wall. Between the inept school board and the greedy teachers a takeover by the state is inevitable. I can’t wait to see the look of shock on the faces of the school district employees when state mandated cuts are enacted. Welcome to the real world.

    • I pay taxes too

      I agree Thomas! The best thing that could happen is that the state (a neutral intermediary) come in, take over and right this cesspool.
      Fewer arguments, more evenhanded distribution of the pain.

      PLEASE TAKE US OVER!!!

  • Donewiththegreed

    Why does nobody ever mention the teacher’s extra pay when discussing the finances in the district? Walk the kids to the bus-$35 per day. Babysit a class while another teacher is out instead of having a free period in the teacher’s lounge-$35. Some of these teacher’s make almost twice their salary by doing this but no one ever mentions that. They wanted an extra $35 per day per teacher to pass out free breakfast. Greedy much? Maybe if they actually lived in the school district they worked in they would understand the tax burden but they all take the money and run to the Abingtons or Mid Valley to build new houses at the Scranton taxpayers expense

    • Karl W.

      Call it what you want, but those things need to be done on a daily basis in the schools. A bus contract that is spending millions upon millions each year is not necessary! Don’t blame the teachers here. They did nothing wrong. It is sad that you think the care and custody of children in schools is “Babysitting”. As far as having to live in the City, go to a meeting and bring it up for discussion. Use your voice and make a change, not a keyboard.

      • Donewiththegreed

        Sitting in a classroom that is not yours, not teaching, but ensuring the students are supervised and safe is babysitting. Teachers get paid to teach. They are already paid to be at their workplace. Should they get additional money on top of their salary for doing what any other person is expected to do at their place of work? I’m not saying the teachers are completely to blame for this mess, but maybe a few concessions could be made-like not taking more money for basically doing nothing instead of taking money for literally doing nothing on a free period.

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