31 Aug City Confidential: Week of August 25, 2018
Rosemary Boland, the head of the Scranton Federation of Teachers, wants the sixteen teachers laid off by the Scranton School District back to work when school starts next week. This time, who could blame her? At Monday’s Board of Education meeting, directors voted 3-3 on a motion to finalize staff reductions adopted in January. The tie caused the motion to fail and calling into questions whether the cuts would go through and the teachers remain on the unemployment line. Kudos to Robert Casey, Paige Gebhardt Cognetti, Barbara Dixon, and Kate Gilmartin, Mark McAndrew, and Tom Schuster. Regardless of one’s opinion on the merits of their decision to vote for or against, they showed up to do the duty the people of Scranton elected them to do. The same cannot be said for Bob Lesh, Paul Duffy, and Carol Oleski. Informed observers predict that the impasse will be resolved by calling a special meeting. The cuts will receive final approval. The teachers will remain out of work.
Out of work members is not the only headache for Boland. Next week educators will begin week two without a contract. The union publicly discouraged members from volunteering their time for after hours and extra curricular activities. What’s worse? Not helping the kids or both sides not meeting to negotiate since April?
Bob Lesh may have not been at the Monday night’s meeting, but investigators from the state Office of the Attorney General were. Insiders believe that at issue is the generous bussing contract the Board awarded to Denaples Transportation Inc. While the new contract appears to offer savings to taxpayers, at issue are contracts awarded in previous years, when Mr. Lesh served as board president. By ratifying the new contract, directors will be forfeiting their rights to challenge the old ones. While the AG’s office declined to comment on the existence of an investigation, the very presence Monday of special guests from Harrisburg indicate that the state is examining the no-bid deals that Lesh presided over. Conveniently, he was absent from the meeting.
Best wishes to the Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., recently returned President of The University of Scranton. Pilarz announced this week that he has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Best wishes for his treatment in the days ahead.