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Scranton School Board Asks for Financial Advice Following Scathing Audit

SCRANTON — The Scranton School Board met for a work session Monday evening following Pennsylvania’s Auditor General scathing report on the district&...
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SCRANTON -- The Scranton School Board met for a work session Monday evening following Pennsylvania's Auditor General scathing report on the district's handling of its finances, calling it the worst in the state.

A message sent out on Twitter shows the Pennsylvania Auditor General continuing to take the Scranton School District to task over the handling of its finances over the past few years.

In the post, Eugene Depasquale says he “…hopes the Scranton School Board uses its work session to begin to heal its self-inflicted wounds and begin a very long, painful recovery.”

At that work session, the board seemed to be taking his advice. It heard from a financial advisory firm, hired by the State Department of Education, to give the district a five-year budget projection.

It was asked by the board to also help it with what the audit discovered.

“We have already begun to look at some of the things he pointed out and before he pointed them out and already resolved them,” said Dr. Alexis Kirijan, the district’s superintendent.

“Obviously, the board realizes the seriousness of the financial challenges they're facing and would like some assistance in both identifying and prioritizes items that can help them,” said financial advisor Dean Kaplan with Public Financial Management.

The 107-page audit found the Scranton School District to be $25 million in debt due to overspending and transportation costs.

Before the meeting, more than two dozen teachers marched in front of the administration building in protest.

“They have some severe financial problems and what we term as mismanagement and some serious issues that they need to take care of immediately,” said teacher Pat Festa.

Taxpayers at the meeting were outraged.

“As a taxpayer, I'm embarrassed to say I live in Scranton,” said Joan Hodowanitz.

That financial advisory firm is working to close a gap in the district's 2018 budget proposal, which needs to be approved before the end of the year.