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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Entire Scranton School Board Should Resign

Here's the least damning thing recently reported about the Scranton School District (SSD) by Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale:  Scranton effectively has the most debt-ridden school district in Pennsylvania.

Again, that's the least damning thing noted in the A.G.'s recent performance audit of the SSD.

It get's worse from there; here's a telling quote from the A.G.:

“It is long past time for the dysfunctional Scranton School District board and the staff to start acting like responsible adults, and to be blunt, get their heads out of their asses and focus their energies on doing what is right for the district’s 10,000 students and thousands of taxpayers,” 

You can read more about Auditor General's report on the Scranton Times website (link to the article HERE).

You can read the entire report produced by the A.G.'s office HERE.

There's nothing I need to embellish in this mess, as the facts stand out on their own.  I do wonder if some of the accusations merit a further criminal investigation, such as over $600,000 paid to a mechanic...who was not a district employee...who also received SSD paid medical coverage (for himself and his spouse).  Then there's the busing contract, which virtually everyone, including the A.G. but except a majority of the SSD Board, has known to be a fiscal version of a dumpster fire.

Regardless, there's one step the SSD Board should take, unanimously I will add:  Resign.

The entire SSD Board should resign, effective immediately.  All of them are complicit in regard to the SSD's perilous states, both fiscally and from a leadership perspective.  All of them either knew or should have known what was happening in the SSD.  All of them failed to appropriately raise the condition of the SSD to the crisis level that's described in the A.G.'s report.  The fact that Pennsylvania's Auditor General has to shame the SSD's leaders into doing their jobs is more than sufficient justification for a mass resignation.

Speaking of complicit, the SSD's unions can't escape blame here, as they knowingly engaged in the politics of the board, routinely endorsing candidates that weren't qualified to count money in a second-rate Bingo Parlor, let alone manage a multi-million dollar budget.  Yes, the objective of any union is to look out for its members, but educators and support professionals in education have an additional calling, namely the care and betterment of children given to them during school hours.  Board politics and hiring practices over the years benefited union members...which is a fact that no sane person in Scranton would dispute...but these same practices will ultimately harm the SSD's students through the budget cuts that are coming.

Finally, the ultimate "buck stops here" moment in this hot mess lies with the voting age population of Scranton.  As I noted in a related Facebook posting, institutionalized government graft is a part of Northeastern Pennsylvania's culture.  It's effectively seen as an area with limited economic opportunities, connections to government graft became for many Scranton residents an accepted form of upward mobility.  The problem though is that the greed driving the engine of government graft is unsustainable; eventually, so many pieces of the pie are taken that there are only crumbs left to educate students.

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