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Scranton School District under State’s ‘Financial Watch’

SCRANTON — The Scranton School District has landed on a list of financially struggling districts and will now have state oversight from the Pennsylvania D...
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SCRANTON — The Scranton School District has landed on a list of financially struggling districts and will now have state oversight from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

It’s called “financial watch” status.

Scranton schools being placed on “financial watch” means officials with the Department of Education will have oversight of the district’s finances and future budgets.

It is similar to the “distressed status” the city of Scranton has with the state.

“Financial watch is, very simply, additional technical assistance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist the school district in managing what are obviously difficult financial conditions,” said State Senator John Blake.

Senator Blake and State Representative Marty Flynn sat with Scranton School District officials and discussed what it would mean for Scranton schools to be on the state’s financial watch.

Scranton is the sixth district in the state to receive the designation after state officials noticed several red flags in Scranton’s financial reports.

The district has no rainy day fund and an annual deficit of more than $20 million.

“Our main goal right now is to close the budget deficit and to gain a fund balance that would put the district in financial solvency,” said Scranton School District Superintendent Alexis Kirijan.

The first step is assigning a Department of Education official to be Scranton’s point person with the state then the state will call for a third-party audit of the district’s finances.

“The message we want to get across is, don’t panic. This is not a takeover, this is not,” said school board president Bob Sheridan. “The state and the school district and the Department of Education and the school board are going to work together.”

State officials say the extra oversight could lead to more state funding down the road, a revenue stream that has shrunk drastically for Scranton schools over the past few years.

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