Scranton School District: Digging the Hole Deeper
December 27, 2017

In today’s paper, we learn, via the Board’s budget chairman, Tom Schuster, that the Board is considering doing a “scoop” in order to balance the budget this year.

This is a mistake.  Right now, with the cash infusion from the state, we have $4 million to find.  If you want to save 89 jobs and a ton of programs, that’s $5 million.  While the Board is looking at some changes which will continue to reduce this gap, there are a whole lot more things that they can do that haven’t happened yet.  Reminder: I published a long list.

The reason the district is in this mess is precisely because of things like scoops.  Deferring debt payments (which increase those payments, of course) will just mean more trouble for the district and taxpayers next year.

That this is even a consideration simply reinforces one of the major problems with the district and the decisions the Board has made.  There is a lack of forethought.  And the reason is pretty simple: we keep putting people on the Board who have no idea what they are doing.  Tom Schuster is the chair of the budget and finance committee.  What qualifications does he have?  Zero.  No financial background.  In fact, he chaired that committee while this crisis was blooming.  I feel like anybody who can do math should’ve been able to predict this. And so here we are, with a proposal that is literally the same kind of thing that the Board used to plug budgets the past few years.  It means next year, we’re going to have yet another crisis.

We saw what happened when Sheridan ran the Board.  He’s gone now.  The newest director is Paige Cognetti– she’s got an MBA from Harvard.  Time to switch it up and consider qualifications for once.  We need fresh ideas, not rehashes of the what got us here in the first place.

The budget, as of yesterday’s meeting, isn’t really looking much better.  The district hasn’t yet posted a video of the meeting, so I don’t have the ability to get more details just yet.

Suffice it to say that this “scoop” just means the hole is getting bigger and next year will end up being worse.

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