HARRISBURG, January 16, 2019 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) and State Representatives Marty Flynn and Kyle Mullins today announced that the Scranton School District has been issued a declaration of Financial Recovery Status by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).
“We are all well aware of the significant and mounting budgetary challenges faced by our largest school district and without additional state support on an administrative and budgetary level, the district, our taxpayers and our students would only continue to suffer,” Blake said. “We have seen how the guidance of Act 47 has helped the City of Scranton on the path to recovery. I believe the actions taken today by PDE will set a path for Scranton School District to return to financial stability and, importantly, improve the educational experience for all of our students. Informed by details learned while under financial watch, this is a logical next step toward the district’s fiscal recovery.”
Blake noted that schools placed in recovery status are appointed a full-time chief recovery officer (CRO) who works onsite with school officials to implement a financial plan to lead the district into solvency and position it for academic success. In addition, a special advisory committee established by the school board will work with the CRO to provide recommendations and feedback on the financial recovery plan. The committee will meet with the CRO on a monthly basis.
“This declaration by PDE presents the Scranton School Board and district administrators with an opportunity to work more closely and collaboratively with PDE to ensure that the district gets its finances in order,” Mullins said. “Financial Recovery Status is the next step in a process that hopefully leads to a recovery plan that is fair to Scranton taxpayers and beneficial to district students.”
Scranton has been designated as a Financial Watch district by PDE since June 2017 and have been receiving technical assistance from PDE on financial and budgetary issues. The legislators also noted that they had advocated for additional state funding over the past two budget cycles to assist the district.
“The District continues to struggle with its finances and it is good to see that the state and PDE are finally going to be more closely involved with the decisions being made,” Flynn added. “The Scranton tax base is so over-stretched and we are dealing with a severely underfunded school district. I hope that this designation can bring additional funding and eventually, financial stability to Scranton School District.”
PDE noted in their communication to Scranton School District that despite the additional state funding and technical assistance provided through the Financial Watch designation, the district continues to experience ongoing and significant financial difficulties and now meets relevant criteria to be placed in recovery status.
According to PDE, Scranton School District has until January 30, 2019 to appeal this designation to Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. If an appeal is not filed by January 30, 2019, PDE will appoint a chief recovery officer within five days.
Other districts in recovery status include Harrisburg, York City, Duquesne City and Chester Upland.
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