SCRANTON -- Students from West Scranton Intermediate School marched around the Scranton School District's Administration Building Wednesday as a board meeting got underway inside.
Chanting, “Students first,” they came to protest the possible loss of programs including arts, music, and athletics.
“I decided to come out tonight to help the prevention of the sports and arts being cut because I really don't want that to happen because they mean a lot to me,” said seventh grader Isabelle Gigliotti.
“It would be boring to only have to go to core subjects and that would be the only thing we would have to do in school,” said seventh grader Brett Miller.
As the children chanted outside, inside the board was getting an update from the firm helping to fix its finances.
With roughly a month to go before the board must adopt a balanced budget for 2018, the district is still looking at a nearly $4 million shortfall.
The firm told the board the district needs to stop with one-time fixes and cannot completely erase its deficit with cuts to academic programs.
“The district cannot eliminate its structural problem with reductions to academic programs,” said one of the presenters from PFM.
But there was some promising news for athletics.
The West Scranton Athletic Director believes they could save $14,000 to $20,000, which would cover the cost of baseball, softball, and basketball at the seventh and eighth grade levels.
“The money that would be saved would be money cut from positions like score keepers, or filmers, or information like that. That would be where your savings would be,” said Athletic Director Rick Bresser.
The board had voted to furlough 51 teachers but was told last week by the state that the move may violate school code.
The board says it is currently looking into that issue.
“The state said that they're not allowed to. The superintendent sends out a memo that they were anyway and in typical Scranton fashion, they kind of do what they want anyways,” said parent Rebekah King.
The superintendent says the county has offered a grant to help pay for athletics at the intermediate schools.
A balanced budget must be approved by March 28.