Sen. Blake, Rep. Flynn Announce Financial Watch Status Designation for Scranton SD

SCRANTON, June 23, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) and State Rep. Marty Flynn today announced that the Scranton School District has been designated in Financial Watch Status by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).

The legislators were joined at a news conference in Scranton earlier today by Scranton School District Superintendent Dr. Alexis Kirijan, Scranton School Board President Bob Sheridan and Chief Financial Officer Gregg Sunday to discuss the implications of the designation and the actions PDE will likely undertake as a result of the designation.

“The entire purpose of the Financial Watch Status is for PDE to provide additional technical assistance and guidance to the district so the school board and the administration can better navigate difficult financial circumstances,” Blake said. “This designation will allow Scranton School District to make the best decisions to protect the interests not only of teachers and students, but for all citizens of the City of Scranton.”

Blake noted that the Financial Watch Status designation announced today is a standard procedure under PDE’s Early Warning System. Reports of financial data by the Scranton School District and other indicators necessitate this action by PDE under current statutes and regulations.

PDE sent a letter on Friday to Scranton School District to inform administrators of the designation and outlining the criteria which necessitated this PDE action. The Financial Watch Status designation is the third level of PDE’s Early Warning System.

Through the designation of Financial Watch Status, PDE will provide technical assistance to Scranton School District to help address its financial challenges. It will also conduct an independent review of the financial condition of Scranton School District.

“I am confident that through the direction of the PDE advisors and the Scranton School District leadership – together with the support of Senator Blake, myself and our elected and appointed partners – the best interests of our students, teachers, support staff and taxpayers will be served as we move forward,” Flynn added.

Blake said that in other circumstances, such as last year in the City of Erie where the school district was put under Financial Watch Status, additional state support for the district was awarded in an attempt to relieve fiscal distress.

Click here to read a copy of the letter that was sent earlier today to Scranton School District.

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Sen. Blake’s Student Ambassador Program Closes with Legislative Competition

groupSCRANTON, May 27, 2015 – State Senator John Blake today hosted 11 high school seniors from 7 local school districts for a legislative competition as the final chapter of this year’s Student Ambassador Program.

The Student Ambassador Program gives high school seniors from each high school in the 22nd Senate District an opportunity to represent their school in a number of meetings, tours and government networking events designed to help participants gain a better understanding of all levels of government and to develop critical thinking and leadership skills with an emphasis on public service.

“The Student Ambassador Program provides a great opportunity for local high school seniors to gain a better understanding of local, state and federal government operations. The student ambassadors also benefit from invaluable field experience in our public sector through our five-month program,” Blake said. “As we saw here today with the very thoughtful and professional presentations offered by our graduating seniors, the future of our region, our state and our country will be in good hands as these students of today become leaders of tomorrow.”

Today’s event, held at Marywood University, gave the student ambassadors an opportunity to make a legislative presentation to a panel of judges that included Sen. Blake, state Representative Eddie Day Pashinski and two legislative staffers.

For the presentation, the student ambassadors were tasked with putting themselves in the shoes of a state senator and proposing a new law of interest to them regarding transportation, education, emergency preparedness, environmental protection or human services. Each presentation was scored by the four judges on the substance of the proposal as well as on the strength of the argument.  Senator Blake will be awarding the top four presenters scholarship assistance for their post secondary academic pursuits.

The students scoring the highest in this year’s competition were Matthew Klucher from Abington Heights School District; Brian Swatt from Lakeland School District; Cassandra Semyon from Riverside School District; and Alexander Fried from Abington Heights School District.

Students interested in participating in Senator Blake’s Student Ambassador Program next year can begin applying in September.  All information related to the application can be obtained at their schools. Student ambassadors are nominated and recommended for participation in the program through an interview process with their school administrators, teachers or guidance counselors.

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