SCRANTON -- It was a heated Scranton School Board meeting Monday night, the first since the state auditor general blasted the district for severe financial mismanagement.
The board approved layoffs to deal with big deficits.
The Scranton School Board approved a contract Monday night with maintenance and clerical workers that includes 23 layoffs.
Parents, teachers, and taxpayers went to the meeting fearing there are many more cuts to come.
"Some of you guys are going to wear handcuffs!" one taxpayer yelled.
"There's been nobody charged with anything here. This school district will not allow personal attacks," said board president Bob Sheridan.
It was the Scranton School Board under attack. A lot of angry comments and accusations were fired their way from the podium at the meeting. It's the first since the state auditor general's report called the district's debt situation the worst in the state -- $25 million in the hole.
"I would like to say I would like to see anyone walk a mile in our shoes," Sheridan said to a chorus of boos.
School board member attempts to defend themselves didn't go over well with this crowd.
"A lot of this stuff was done 16 years ago, before this board or prior boards were here," Sheridan said.
And on the night of this first meeting since that report on the debt disaster here came some of the first actions to deal with it a contract including layoffs for 23 clerical and maintenance workers and 10 more over the next three years, saving about $1 million.
Teachers dominated the time at the podium, fearing further cuts.
"My fear is that furloughs, layoffs, and eliminations of programs will be the rule of the day and to mend the sinking ship that me and my colleagues didn't put holes in," said third-grade teacher Patrick Festa.
"Until the recent discovery and publication of the real truth of the financial deficit in the Scranton School District, the blame was always been blamed on the contracts of teachers," said high school district Steven Bartnicki.
While teachers place blame on the board for the district's financial problems, the outgoing board president, Bob Sheridan, says that the wrong approach.
"Please don't stand there and blame us for what's going on. What's happened 16 years ago has happened, now we have to sit down and look forward to 2018 and work together, not fighting each other."
Sheridan says it's possible teachers will be laid off. Those decisions will come in the budget-writing process which begins later this month.
Many in the room now wondering and worrying how else this board will deal with that debt.
"My taxes have gone up $800 in five years. This is all about money and saving money. It's not about laying people off. It's about firing the administration," said one taxpayer as the audience applauded.
Also on the board's plate, the teachers have been working without a contract and could strike this school year.
The board also accepted the resignation of Director Jim Timlin. It hopes to fill that vacancy at its work session on the November 27.