Sounding Off in Scranton School District: Crowd Calls for No Layoffs

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SCRANTON -- The auditorium at South Scranton Intermediate School was packed Monday night for a special hearing as one by one, parents, teachers and students called on the school board to avoid layoffs at all costs.

"With all due respect, our students did not create this unsustainable debt,” said Scranton teacher Suzanne Furey.

The clock is ticking. The Scranton School District needs a budget by the end of the year. Facing a nearly $19 million deficit, board members say tough choices have to be made.

The board is considering a plan to lay off 89 educators, mostly art, music, physical education, family and consumer science, and industrial arts teachers, librarians, and 10 special education teachers.

Judy Laske has four special needs children in the district.

"They're not going to get the education that they deserve. They deserve to have an education. They deserve to have a life. They deserve to go on and be independent and have, self-worth to them," Laske said.

If the plan is approved, schedules will change for all students in the district and general education teachers will have to teach those special subjects.

"I don't think it's really the best educational system to ask me to teach those subjects and get rid of the people that are highly qualified, and love those subjects and are passionate and motivated,” said Scranton teacher Patrick Festa.

The plan also calls for eliminating German and Latin at the high school level.

At one point in the evening, a woman began to yell from the balcony about providing opportunities to minority students in the district.

As the hearing went on in the school auditorium, students played instruments in the hallway. They said they want to make noise about the importance of music teachers and programs.

"Music can develop in anyone. You can see our huge variety of children and the huge variety of races, just for music,” said Nadia Haroun Mahdavi, of the Scranton High School Orchestra.

The head of the Scranton teachers union says union members have no confidence in the plan or the district superintendent, and they will fight the proposal.

"You're talking about jobs, so let's see who you are talking about,” said Rosemary Boland as she called for all Scranton teachers to stand up before the board.

At Monday’s meeting, Superintendent Dr. Alexis Kirijian gave a no-confidence vote to the union.

Even if the proposal is approved, the board would still need to bridge a more than $6 million deficit.

38 comments

  • CeeMe

    It’s the same old story. The powers that be, mess up, and the working people below them pay the price. When you have 19M in debt, something needs to be done. Laying off teachers might be inevitable, but I think salary cuts should start at the top. And what’s with that jerk yelling about opportunities for minorities? They have the same opportunities as anyone else to apply for a job. If you want something “special” about your culture to teach, then kiss my white American A*s. This is why people are getting to the place where they can’t stand non-whites.

  • Sharp Pencil

    I was not at the meeting. All I saw was gang mentality , grandstanding and not one attempt at offering alternatives or solutions. This is what happens when you give, and give and kick the can down the road. Rub the lamp and hope money appears because a State Takeover is right around the corner. Pick your poison.

  • Not Surprised

    Anyone who thinks this $19 Million deficit is caused by the teachers salary truly shows how uneducated you are.

    • Writer Girl

      So true. They are professionals making a professional salary, which seems to anger the people in NEPA. Can/should they compromise on some things? Maybe, but their salaries aren’t the cause of 19M in debt.

  • John Williams

    I dont think the people in the auditorium understand most school districts in this state are at the point of maximum tax collection. You cant get blood from a stone. School Districts are just another wing of government. Government doesnt have a REVENUE problem, it has a SPENDING problem.

    • E

      Ha ha! There you go again with your pathetic bullsh*t. Ha ha! It happens everywhere, it happens everywhere. No it doesn’t ha ha! I’d like to quote you white trash losers, “Oh boy”, “Oh boy”! Ha ha ha!

  • Robert Faneck

    Maybe the Scranton teachers union president should offer an across the board 10% pay cut for the teachers to save some jobs. Like that will ever happen.

  • Chubbycountyguy

    Oooh yes, NEPA has some real smart people that come out of the woodwork to talk schools. If you go to Frackville, Pottsville, Ashland, or Orwigsburg you will find some real gems that feel very self important since their mild success feels magnified amongst the street roamers, pillheads, and boy touchers they live amongst. You can see the arousal on their face the moment an opportunity arises for them to tuck their button down into their jeans as they speak to other odd “respectable” town folks. Seriously though, these people are not able to handle educational responsibilities. Just get an infomercial running so people can donate canned food for these poor drubs and stop wasting money on them.

  • Not Surprised

    Came for the comments, was not disappointed. Stay classy NEPA. You’re 50 years behind the rest of the country.

    • Sharp Pencil

      And another contribution that does nothing. Go look in your mirror and puff out your chest. Watching anyone fail and getting joy from it is what children do.

  • Dave

    I would bet those screaming are workers for the School district. The Tax payer would be screaming Lay the Off. Want a Band you pay for it. Like Football you pay for it..Want to learn a Trade..Ditto.. We will pay for Reading ,Writing and Arithmetic. Either that or take a cut because the people you are taxing have not had a raise in 20 years ,yet you keep getting them.

  • Bill

    Where’s the disgust with a no-bid, multi-million dollar bus contract? 25% increases for administration positions? The nepotism? Paying contractors and their families’ health insurance? The School Board caused this problem and is attempting to solve how many millions in failed policies and budgets on the backs of the students and teachers? A one million potential savings in return for catastrophic losses to education that still leaves the district how many millions in debt? Is this not an obvious attempt to deflect the issue from mismanagement to the teachers?

  • The Well Is Dry

    The looks on the teachers faces are priceless. For the first time they sense that the party is about to end and no protestations at this point can change that fact.

  • Jack R.

    thank you, NEA unions, democrats who run the district, democrat employees, and for just showing me how destructive deceit and greed can be

      • concerned commuter

        If you actually check you’ll find that the majority of public figures in Luzerne County that were arrested were democrats. I can’t remember for certain but I believe that there was only one republican arrested. Luzerne county, like Lackawana doesn’t like republicans and normally doesn’t elect them.

  • Day Of Reckoning

    This was nothing more than a choreographed show orchestrated by the teachers with students as pawns to save teacher jobs. Does anyone really believe that any of last night’s performance just happened spontaneously?

  • mopar driver

    No layoffs? HA ! Then you just gotta pay more in taxes to cover the OVER PAY that caused all this mess . Amazing how schools can be run so stupid by “educated” crooks .

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