Transparency Makes Agenda

February 24, 2019

Transparency, at long last, appears to have a prominent place on the Scranton School District’s agenda.

It has arrived there by karma. The school board for years huddled in a back room and made a long series of decisions favoring special interests that steered the district to the edge of the cliff. Now a financial recovery officer who was appointed by the state wants to, in effect, padlock the back room and actually engage the community in backing the district away from the cliff.

Candis Finan, Ed.D., will file a report by May recommending steps toward recovery. By the time the report is ready, it will not be a surprise to taxpayers, the school community or district employees because, Finan said, she plans to keep the community informed.

Contrast that with the conduct of the school board majority, which professed to be transparent and open even as it recently violated the state Sunshine Law to fill a board vacancy.

That, after the district’s former business manager, Gregg Sunday, was charged with using taxpayer money to pay for his own vehicle repairs, after the district’s former fleet manager was charged in the same investigation, after the board sleepwalked through the award of expensive health insurance benefits to nonemployees, after the state auditor general blasted the board twice for unbid and needlessly expensive transportation contracts, after declining to invite the auditor general to examine the district information technology department, and as the state attorney general’s office continues to investigate district operations.

Finan’s plan to include the community offers an example for the board. Public involvement is not just a matter of waiting to see who shows up at school board meetings, but of reaching out to the public to create an unassailable mandate for sweeping reforms.

Scrantonians who care about the future of the district and the city’s kids should rise to the challenge posed by Finan to participate in shaping the district’s recovery.