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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Transparency in the Scranton School District

A lot has been and continues to be written about the most financially unstable school district in Pennsylvania, namely the Scranton School District (SSD).  Two recent entries related to the SSD that are worth reading include...

I'm not going to add anything new to the conversation other than the following:  It's essential that SSD Board is fully transparent in all of its efforts to resolve the financial crisis.

Fully Transparent.

Far too much business has been undertaken by the SSD Board in secrecy.  The cynic in me believes that the secrecy was an important element in successive board members running the SSD for the benefit of themselves, family members and friends.  Regardless of the underlying reasoning, the fact remains now that secrecy is the last thing the region's largest school district needs. 

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

All of the SSDs current financial challenges and potential solutions should be discussed in public. This doesn't mean hours-long shouting matches with teachers and taxpayers; rather, every item related to the district's finances should be discussed and debated in full view of the public.  Every director must speak up and be held accountable for their actions. 

There should be a PUBLIC effort to recover over-charges from the SSDs no-bid busing contractor, even if that effort ends up failing.  There is value in shame.

There should be a PUBLIC effort to recover the costs of benefits paid to non-eligible individuals.  This will have little impact on the budget, but it's important from an accountability perspective.

There should be a PUBLIC review of all NON-EDUCATION expenses incurred by the SSD, including varsity sports programs.

There should be a PUBLIC review of all administration salaries and benefits.

There should be a PUBLIC review of all SSD facility utilization, including the administration building. 

And lastly, there should be a PUBLIC review of all the SSDs educational programs.  Making the assumption that art, music, and library are somehow (and automatically) of lesser value to the education of children is short-sighted at best, shameful at worst.

Simply throwing up a PowerPoint slide with pre-cooked solutions, as the SSD Board did this past week, is not being fully transparent.  Instead, this is simply another example of business as usual for a group that has failed miserably at its job.  It's time close down the back room for good. 

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