SCRANTON, Pa. -- Scranton school board voted Thursday night to accept a recovery plan to dig the district out of its multi-million dollar debt.
The choices were stark: accept a painful recovery plan, with sharp tax increases and school closures, or face the reality of having the district taken over by the state.
“I’m going to ask you, to please pass the recovery plan, because it gives us an opportunity to move this district forward, and that’s what we desperately need,” teachers union president Rosemary Boland said.
With eight school directors standing before them and one joining by phone, members of the Scranton community had one last chance to say their piece on the district’s recovery plan.
Some were against the plan.
“There has not been enough talk about academic performance, instead of just making the numbers balanced,” Joan Hodowanitz of Scranton said.
Others backed the plan as the only hope to get out of financial distress.
“The way I look at is we’re on the Titanic. There’s the iceberg. This plan steers us past the iceberg. Is it the best plan? Maybe not, maybe it can be changed and will be changed. But it’s the only plan we’ve got, no one else has come up with a different one,” Scranton School Board candidate Ro Hume said.
When put to a vote, board members Bob Lesh and Greg Popil voted no with Popil saying the state has left the district with its hands tied.
“The recovery plan wants us to tax the city of Scranton, the residents of the city of Scranton, at a higher rate. And I can’t put up with that,” Popil said.
Chief recovery officer Candis Finan told Newswatch 16 she is looking forward to now putting her plan in action in the coming months.
“I am so pleased. We’ve worked very hard, we’ve worked very hard together with the community, and I’m very pleased. At least it’s a step forward, it’s a pathway forward. It’s a five-year plan that we can walk through,” Finan said.
Any decisions on taxes being raised will occur at the December budget meeting.