Scranton School District continues budget meetings, proposes more cuts
SCRANTON (WOLF) -- With just days away from deadline, the Scranton School District and School Board are still working through a nearly $19 million deficit.
Tuesday's meeting kept many of the previously proposed reductions, including 89 teacher furloughs, a 4 percent salary reduction to district employees paid over $70,000, and cuts to interscholastic sports programs at the intermediate level.
New proposals also arose, including a 20 percent building cut, with individual schools to come up with their own reductions to meet that amount. District leaders are even looking at borrowing millions of dollars to fill the hole. However, financial advice presented Tuesday evening suggests they said that borrowing would not fix the structural deficit and get the district sound for long-term financial stability.
As of Tuesday night district leaders say passing an unbalanced budget is a strong possibility. This would give the district until April 1st to pass a balanced budget, and district administration says it will not hurt their financial watch status with the state to do so, the status allowing them the time.
Administration also revealed that they are not locked into furloughing all 89 teaching positions if they can find other ways to save money between now and April 1st.
"I don't think there's anybody who wants to see a program changed, wants to see education undermined. I don't think there's anybody at this table or in the mix here who wants to see that happen, and I think in a way, it sort of drove home the seriousness of the situation. But like I said, we've been looking for every other opportunity to scrimp and save so that we're not impacting the unbelievable quality of education we already have," said newly-elected board member Katie Gilmartin.
"I appreciated that the board is questioning everything. They're looking for answers, they're demanding details from administration, and that's really a first. This is encouraging for us to listen to this board. There's obviously a new tone here and I hope it stays like this. I hope they continue to question every single solitary detail, that's very positive," said Rosemary Boland, President of the Scranton Federation of Teachers.
All the reductions proposed Tuesday brought the deficit down to a projected $6.3 million dollars, which does not include the recent $2 million dollars state funding. They say they are waiting on direction for how to include those funds.
There are more budget meetings scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday evening at Scranton High School. The board says they aim to pass a budget by Thursday night.