The Decline and Fall of the Scranton School District: An Update
January 4, 2017

In the wake of my most recent post about the Decline and Fall of the Scranton School District, I’ve had a lot of private (and some public) responses to specific points I made.  The one I knew would be the most controversial– maintenance– sparked the majority.  I’ve had a continuous stream of people privately informing me of infractions, I’ve had maintenance staff tell me I have no idea what I’m talking about (some bashing me quite enthusiastically all over the district), and I’ve had a lot of maintenance staff share positive stories.  One director informed me about how utilizing maintenance to do work normally bid out to contractors saves the district a lot of money.  All of these things are good to know. I’m happy to hear from all sides (even when it’s negative), because encountering other viewpoints is an opportunity to learn.

Now, to address one running theme of misconception.  I know of enough pervasive and specific instances of abuse that I feel a genuine sense of disgust that these things are going on, hence my tone.  That is not a blanket indictment of every single maintenance worker in the district, but I understand how some could read it as such.

To quote myself in my previous article, I don’t want to see privatization of the maintenance staff.  I understand how the harshness of the rest of my explainer could indicate otherwise.  So, I’ll be clear:

  1. I do not wish to see Maintenance privatized.
  2. I do not wish ill on Maintenance people.
  3. I do not think every single Maintenance person is a lazy mooch.
  4. I do not begrudge Maintenance workers their salary or benefits.
  5. I know of ever increasing instances of abuse which inspired my invective.  They are facts.  I don’t mind if you don’t believe me.  I haven’t provided evidence because I do not wish to compromise the trust of those who inform me.  And I trust these people enough to know that they are not lying.  If you do not think I have any integrity, then you’ll be inclined to think I’m making this up.  I’m fine with it.  I stand by what I say.
  6. I think the real solution is for the union to police itself and get rid of dead weight.  The threat of being subbed out should be enough to do that.
  7. Further, I think Maintenance can be a wonderful partner in cost reduction (via in-housing normally contracted work), particularly given the fact that the district employs painters, electricians, etc.

For what it’s worth, I’ve had great conversations with a lot of people on this issue, including the newly installed head of the maintenance union.  There are a ton of hard-working maintenance people.  I know them.  It’s just that there are enough bad apples that it’s tainting the pool.

I was also contacted by Board members.   One particular conversation was productive and immensely informative, another… not so much.

It’s very important for people to acknowledge that having a different perspective doesn’t make somebody evil.  I pretty clearly stated that I believed the Board to be composed of good people who’ve either made some bad decisions or neglected to make good but tough decisions.

I’ll end by saying that I’ve been encouraged to run by a multitude of people.  The thought of running makes me tired.  But the most important person in my life and the primary reason I’ve kept ruling it out, my lovely and amazing wife, was one of those people.  Suffice it to say, I’ve got a lot of thinking to do.

Regardless, there will be more to come on the Scranton School District front.  Keep firing off the inside scoop, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.

Stay tuned!



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