Deadline Clock Ticking for Scranton School District’s Balanced Budget

WEST SCRANTON -- The clock is ticking on the Scranton School District.

After announcing the layoffs of dozens of teachers, the district still has a multi-million dollar gap and less than two months to adopt a balanced budget.

With a looming deadline to approve a balanced budget for 2018, the Scranton School District continues to tighten its financial belt.

At a Budget and Finance Committee meeting at West Scranton High School Monday night, the district's assistant business manager updated the school board on where it stands with regard to closing a multi-million dollar gap in its $161 million tentative spending plan.

Through reducing costs of transportation and other vendors, the deficit has been brought down from $4.5 million to roughly $3.8 million.

“An amendment from the December 28 meeting,” said Laffey. “There's some minor adjustments to it and we're in the next 55 days. We have to figure out how to balance that $3.8 million deficit, and there could be potential for borrowings involved. We don't know at this time.”

The district was put on financial watch by the state after an audit found years of wasteful spending.

Last week, some board members asked the Lackawanna County District Attorney's office to look into some of that spending, including why a mechanic contracted by the district was given school health insurance for himself and his wife for more than a decade.

“The district attorney's office has been contacted by this board and that you want the monies returned,” said Rosemary Boland, the president of the teachers’ union, Scranton Federation of Teachers. “You're not the only ones that want the monies returned.”

The district has also announced plans to furlough 51 teachers and all librarians to help close the deficit.

“I never thought I would be up here talking,” said Scranton High junior Erika Aguilar, as she addressed the board. “I also never thought that my favorite teacher would be in jeopardy of losing her job, but I guess the unthinkable can happen.”

Newswatch 16 did contact the district attorney's office to see if it would be looking into the school district's financial history but did not hear back.

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