51 Teachers to Be Laid Off in Scranton

SCRANTON -- The Scranton School Board voted Thursday night to furlough 51 educators in an effort to reduce the shortfall in its tentative budget for the next school year.

Even with these layoffs, the district is still facing a $4.5 million deficit in its $161 million spending plan.

Despite the board reducing the number of layoffs from 89 teachers to 51, teachers, parents, and students left the meeting in disgust.

In an attempt to get the district out of its financial distress, 28 tenured teachers and 23 non-tenured teachers will be let go effective August 31 before the start of the 2018 school year.

Before the vote was taken, members of the audience pleaded with the board to reconsider.

"What bothers me is that I feel like it was the first option chosen, and it should be the last option chosen," said teacher Suzanne Furey.

"The mission of the Scranton School District is to quote: educate, inspire, and empower students, end quote. If you are willing to cut teachers before taking a hard look at other areas, then that is not your mission," said teacher Adam McCormick.

The board initially proposed laying off 89 teachers in programs such as art and music. Now, those programs will remain as some of those positions are being kept.

All librarians are being let go, but the superintendent says students will still have access to libraries.

"They will be able to work in the library with their teachers," said Scranton School District Superintendent Alexis Kirijan.

The teachers union president says that's not allowed by the state Department of Education.

"They're saying that the teachers will teach library science to the students. Well, that's against the PDE code, so I don't know how we're going to be doing that," said Rosemary Boland, Scranton Federation of Teachers.

In addition to the teacher layoffs, 40 maintenance and clerical workers will be let go in July.

The district says it must vote on an official 2018 budget by March 28.

The Scranton School District released the following statement following Thursday's vote:

This evening the Scranton School Board voted to accept the administration’s proposed reductions of staff.  After many weeks of hard work, the number of positions affected was reduced to 51, approximately 43 percent fewer than the original 89.  Prioritizing the diversity of our student’s interests and recognizing that the multifarious tools utilized in a strong public education are of the utmost importance, valuable programs have been preserved in this proposal.

Art, Music and Health/PE will continue to be offered as related arts subjects at the elementary level. Intermediate students will receive one related arts period per day in those subjects as well as Family and Consumer Science, Industrial Arts and Spanish.  The high school curriculum will also retain those subjects and, due to course selections, Latin and German will continue to be offered as well.  Although library programs are affected, each school will still maintain a full library of books and materials accessible to our students.  All secondary schools are equipped with a computer lab for students to complete any type of research for his/her studies.

The proposed furloughs are being made under the PA School Code, which establishes the manner in which necessary reductions of staff shall be accomplished.  Additionally, an equal percentage of administrative staff and professional employees may be suspended.  The Board has given primary consideration to the staffing needs of the district, its financial stability and most importantly to the effect upon the educational programs provided to our students.  The administration has confirmed that state academic standards and teacher certification requirements are met under the proposal.

The Board appreciates the concessions that many staff members and vendors have already made.  Work will continue to identify additional measures to reduce the district’s deficit in an effort to mitigate costly borrowing in order to pass a final, balanced budget by the extended deadline of April 1, 2018.

The Board looks forward to continuing to work with Superintendent Alexis Kirijan, the District administration, the Scranton Federation of Teachers, our PFM consultants and the Pennsylvania Department of Education in earnest.  This evening’s decision is made with great solemnity, however the Board is confident that this action is crucial to our effort to effect positive, transformational change in our district, our community and in the future we must build for our children.

75 comments

  • Capt Bogart

    When jobs with buying power leave, so will the people that can follow them. Keep voting the same people back in office.

  • Trying Neverland

    The first thing that needs to be done is for everyone to sit down, shut up, and take a reality check. People graduating from colleges view teaching as a career choice for the perks – paid health insurance, retirement, extra pay for extra “duties,” and so forth. Teacher salaries should be merit-based, period. How many students are testing in the higher percentiles? How many students are actually LEARNING rather than being shoved into the next grade level? Merit-based salaries. Sports should not have ever become the mainstay of any school. What about engineering, the arts (all arts), and sciences? Why aren’t THOSE disciplines held as important as sports programs,?

    And, who is so wrecked over some of the comments on this article that they need to use the “REPORT COMMENT” option instead of presenting their opposing views? Looks like no amount of edumkashun can ***teach*** those who are opposed to learning.

    • Opposing View

      Dear Trying
      While merit-based pay may sound like a good choice, it is clear to see from department budget cuts not all teachers are given the resources necessary to achieve those goals upon which merit pay is based. Many teachers have their hands tied behind their backs, trying to do their best, while other areas within the school, or district, receive more and may have fewer students. Something to consider when deciding what merits more pay.

  • Mary George

    Crime rates increase when literacy decreases. Think of other ways to cut funding. Librarians teach and work with administrators. They help in so many various ways. They are staff members students need. Please do not cut them/

  • Cowboy

    I am SHOCKED! Teachers in Pennsylvania make more than $60K a year that is 180 days of so called work for them, six months. Plus they have the BEST Health Care and when the stock market took a dive a few years ago, our SCHOOL TAXES went up to cover their lost. Wish I could get money back that I lose from my 401. It looks like more than a third for them teachers should be retired instead of laying the younger ones off. It takes me 365 days to make almost 50K and that’s with overtime. All in all teachers are Over Paid, Under Worked, Over Benefited and have the Summer Off. Teachers Union have to muck pull and the UNION is out of hand and line with the benefits.

    • God's Left Fist

      You really have no idea what you’re talking about.

      SSD teachers make between $30K-$80K/year. The ones at both ends of that spectrum are the ones being let go. What they get in health benefits they spend on their classrooms. Imagine being a soldier who has to pay for his own ammo and then is told he’s overpaid because most of the time he’s not actually shooting at anyone.

      As for the rest of your ignorant comments, you wouldn’t last a week as a teacher in this district, “cowboy.” Just pay your taxes and thank teachers you’re as literate as you seem to be.

      • Dave

        If a younger teacher can even get a job, because the old bats wouldn’t retire, their the ones making almost nothing. If they can get in the click, they jump right to 80K

    • Are you serious

      Cowboy, you should have gone to college and got a degree in education!!! I’m not a teacher, but I know for a fact teaching is NOT easy!!

      • Cowboy

        (ARE YOU SERIOUS)
        Yes I am serious, I have a bachelor’s degree and retired. Talking about a job that’s not easy was being a radio operator in Vietnam, getting out and coming home treated like a baby killer, being looked down on. Going from state to state living in the YMCA, looking for a good job so I can make a living. I didn’t go on welfare assistance because I am a PROUD republican AMARICAN! My Mom raised five boys by herself, we boys put ourselves through college without help for anyone, and all paid in full with no college grants. Yes, my jobs were so much easier much easier than a teacher. Your right. I feel bad now that I just had it so easy through my life.

      • Jd

        Are you serious: well, maybe people should try your theory. Complain to management how hard your job is and get a raise and way better benefits. All jobs are hard sometimes. That’s why it’s called work!

    • Kimberly

      Calling teaching “So called work” is incredibly insulting. Teaching is challenging, frustrating, emotional, and often difficult. It is also incredible, enlightening, magical, and wonderous. Many of us put our whole heart and soul into being as an educator. I am certain you work hard to have a decent life, just as we do as people blessed to educate the children of our community.

  • Mcmuffen

    I know that’s the way it’s always been summers off and work 180 days per year but when times get tough we have to tighten the belt.pay employees for the time-work, they do 180 days pay them for 180 days end of story!

    • Writer Girl

      Who will hire them just for the summer, and at what wages? Meanwhile, they still have mortgages and bills to pay.

      • Zippity Dooh Dah

        Then it might be time that they learned a little bit about fiscal accountability? We live within our means. We purchase used vehicles. We downsize our cable/satellite. We reduce the cell phone contracts. We start realizing that our own income is paid by the public and not from some renewable slush fund.

      • Kimberly

        Plan B, who can afford that much higher education? Oh, and it’s proven that educators have no idea how to be “fiscally accountable”., naturally. Of coarse we all own our own homes, new cars, great clothes, and spend our Summers on a 2 month cruise! You call it “fiscal irresponsibly, I call it “glamorous”! Bring on that pension….

  • WAYNE S

    How bout we start laying off some administrators and teachers in the numerous smaller districts. Scranton is actually a huge district compared to the PA norm. These small districts are where the scams really happen. For example St clair district near Pottsville, didnt have a high school since 1989, has one elementary school with less than 200 students and the super makes close to 90 k a year. That is really good fiscal spending.

  • jim

    How much is spent on coaches salaries, bus transportation and fuel costs for sporting events, OT for the cops just in case parents don’t behave, EMT’s, what is that cost, uniforms, medical supplies and physicals.
    Pushing kids through so they can compete in sports.
    We spend more money then any other country and are 20th and sinking.
    When educated people from other countries come here and take the jobs your kids will always have their trophies.
    Some say sports keep kids out of trouble so do attentive parents!
    Administrators, superintendents were are their cuts…some very big salaries their.

    • EL MA

      It’s not just kids from other countries, it’s the nomadic, transient kids of gas-workers, as well. They live in RV’s that they park onto lots and the taxes that the lot owner pays doesn’t have to pay “school taxes” because there are no permanent dwellings on the properties. So, in come this hoard of gypsies, they set down their stakes for a year or two, use up the local resources, and then move on to the next drill site or pipe construction.

      This matter has to do with accountability. Why are there so many districts in this State? Why are there so many administrators per each district? Why is so much money funneled into going-nowhere sports programs? The millions upon millions that are sluiced into the sports programs prepare a child for………WHAT??? A scholarship to Slippery Rock that is rescinded because of poor grades, drug use, or alcohol poisoning? Gawd, it’s insane

  • Charlie Lucky

    They are overpaid and underworked. Their yearly salary is based on 180 days. The rest of the work force yearly salary is based on 250 work days, and that’s if you have a 5 day work week, and a 2 week vacation,

  • ugh

    Government in NEPA is toxic. Democrats, Republicans – it does not matter. They impose a loser mentality that drives away people with even a hint of ambition. Millions upon millions of dollars wasted or missing.

  • silverfishimperetrix

    It’s a long time until the 2018 school year starts. I predict this problem will be solved by a tax hike by then, as the school districts think homeowners are their personal ATMs.

  • Roflmao

    The DIMM Bubble has burst, go on strike quick. Fifty one less teachers means a pay raise for the rest. Divvy up!

      • Roflmao

        Love to go with a balanced budget, but the give away everything, raise taxes, borrow even more money crew AKA DIMocrats are running the show were structural deficits are desirable outcomes. So now all good people (I assume there are a few) from Scranton must suffer. Now that’s funny!

  • Dave

    Low seniority ones most likely, when in fact it should be the senior self entitles (nasty) ones that should go.
    Or cut their pay in half.
    Take your pick

  • mopar driver

    Not enough , need to axe the teachers as proposed and make it balance – WHat idiots add more debt over a overkill debt issue -/ and how could anyone justify it ? – How about a final cut to the school board and rehire a competent crew fo mega less money ? ? ?

  • HaynaDude

    These layoffs are a direct result of the teachers’ union being so bull-headed in past years, demanding sweetheart contracts with excessive benefits that bust the budget while squeezing the taxpayer like a lemon.

    • sick of fake news

      Nailed it. Greedy unions demand unsustainable benefits funded by taxpayers who can’t negotiate. Politicians cave because they want the union backing. Finally chickens come home to roost. Same thing with all govt workers–state and local.Raise taxes to pay for exorbitant benefits until no one can afford it.

      If teachers cared about their colleagues losing their jobs, they should offer to take reduced benefits.They have no problem asking taxpayers to tighten their belts. Why shouldn’t they do the same?

  • Teecher

    The teachers are screwed and they know it based on the looks on their faces. They either take these reductions or the state takes over the district and they will dictate more severe cuts. Let this be a lesson to neighboring school districts that if you continue to bleed the taxpayers you eventually have to suffer the consequences.

    • Info

      When the state takes over, typically the first things to go are the administrative positions: boards, superintendents, business managers, etc. it’s surmised that the reasons for the deficit are the direct result of those in charge leading the district in the wrong direction and making incompetent decisions regarding the budget and other agendas.
      The state taking over this district doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me.

      • Scrantoon

        Largest part of the budget? Salaries and benefits. Largest part of salaries and benefits? Teachers. Do the math.

      • Info

        It’s not to say they are eliminating these positions. They replace them with members from the government. These officials then come in and make decisions regarding how to correct the problem. Which, this case, will most definitely include some furloughs and layoffs.

    • Info

      I’m not sure about the Scranton School District in particular, but in many school districts (at least lower socioeconomic ones) taxpayer funds account for only a very small percentage of the budget funds. Most of the funds come from the state. Federal funds also play a role.

      This repetitive idea that the communities are those solely and most significantly providing for the district is false.

      • Info

        I’m general yes. Taxpayers. However these taxpayers include the general populous. Not just the communities in which the districts reside. You know who else pays taxes? The teachers and other members of these districts. Essentially, the teachers contribute to their own salaries as well. As does anyone working in a position funded by the government (officials, policemen, etc).

      • EL MA

        So, the answer is to disband the entire structure and put the onus on the shoulders of the localities to determine how (IF) children will be educated in their districts. This is out of hand. We aren’t doing more than producing drones, as it is – smart-phone zombies and FB addicts, and this nation is in dire trouble because we are not producing the brilliant innovation that we are having to borrow from other countries.

  • D

    yeah lets cut sports. then when all the kids are fat and on the streets committing crimes you could blame the schools…

    • Smdh

      D- What, can’t the kids play when they get home from school with their friends in the backyard or a park? Your excuse is probably the most pathetic comment I’ve ever seen on here! LOL!

    • Lloyd Schmucatelli

      They already are fat and on the steeet committing
      Crimes.

      Sports are by far the #1 waste of money in school districts?

      And for what? Really, why?

      Hometown pride? F that.

      • Are you serious

        Lloyd, Sports/Athletic programs show positive results in kids across the entire world!! Cut sports programs? Are you for real?

  • Marcus Aurelius

    Sports!!!! Get rid of the sports!! Many, many more futures will be determined by whether or not the classrooms have smaller sizes, whether there is a full complement of subjects and curriculum options, NOT whether or not there are several overpaid and over-prioritized sports programs. What does society need more: creating opportunities for the best and brightest students who may come from poorer backgrounds a foot into new worlds and new possibilities, or catering to the tiny charismatic subset of “stars” who run around or throw things? Physical activity is wonderful, but the purpose of school is primarily and ultimately academic. Sports are wonderful, but they are not necessary, and retaining athletics for a small, favored student elite at the expense of the entire system is incredibly shortsighted and immoral. It’s wrong to take away from the fundamental purpose of school to retain non-academic programs that benefit a comparatively small number of students.

    The financial problems extend way beyond what a simple cut to the athletics program will accomplish, but keeping sports while increasing class size and reducing curriculum options would be like a municipal government cutting the budget for snow removal so that they could pay for extravagant Christmas decorations. You take of what’s important before the things that are peripheral to the safety of the roads, just like sports should be let go of before the classrooms and libraries become even more underfunded than they already are.

  • Buffalino hunter

    This is what happens when a dysfunctional city tries to run a dysfunctional school. Scranton deserves everything it gets. Don’t forget the crooked bus contract the district gave to a member of the Scranton mafia.

  • I'm right You're wrong

    Keep going on strike… And keep demanding more and more money from an entity that doesn’t have it…. And this is the price you pay.

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