SCRANTON -- The hits keep coming for the Scranton School District. Just weeks after a scathing financial report by the state auditor general, Scranton's school board approved a new budget with an $18 million hole.
Jobs and programs for students could be in jeopardy.
The school board will have to pass the final budget by the end of the year but agreed on a preliminary budget Monday night with that $18 million gap.
While there are no specifics yet on what would be cut to close that gap, there's a lot of worry for all aspects of public education in the city of Scranton.
Parents and teachers worry what a potential $18 million shortage in next year's budget could mean for programs, jobs, and more.
"I think every department will take a hit, so it's not only affecting the lives of staff but mostly our students," said speech pathologist Beth Kilker.
With a little more than 10,000 students in the Scranton School District and enrollment not going down anytime soon, it means there are cuts coming, but officials can't say what they are.
"I think it's time to sit down and buckle up, and if we have to cut back, it's got to be done," said Scranton School Board President Bob Sheridan.
Outgoing board president Sheridan was the only "no" vote against the proposed budget. Sheridan expects school taxes will go up and more when the new board votes on a final budget before 2018.
"Yes, I definitely see layoffs coming."
Scranton's superintendent declined to speak on camera, saying rising health care and pension costs, along with debt mean, "we have to take a look at what our students are most interested in and what gives them a well-rounded education," adding the district needs to, "see how we can streamline."
The head of the teachers' union says the district is in a hole because of past poor decisions and teachers shouldn't bear the brunt of any cuts.
"I'm very concerned," said Rosemary Boland, Scranton Federation of Teachers. "I fear the fact that people think that the teachers and professionals of our union will be responsible for making up that $18 million deficit. That is just not possible."
Teachers do not have a new contract yet for next year.
Scranton school officials plan to come up with ways to save millions before the budget is due at the end of next month.