Superintendent considers suing the state or shutdown over budget impasse

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Oct 21, 2015 3:18 PM

(Carbondale) -- A northeastern Pennsylvania school district is considering two options while it waits for state funding: shut down, or sue the state.

Carbondale Superintendent Joseph Gorham says the district has spent all $5 million of its reserves, and at one point after September's payroll, had $11,000 in its bank account.

Local tax revenue is keeping the school open for now, but it's expected to run out by mid- to late-November.

So Gorham says it's time for districts across the state to talk about a symbolic shutdown to get the attention of Governor Tom Wolf and Republican legislative leaders.

"Maybe that'll spur people on both sides of aisles to really see the impact that it's having on students. You know, it sounds cliche, but it's the reality. What we are doing by digging our heels into the ground is directly impacting the psychology of a student."

Or, he says he's considering a lawsuit against the state.

Speaking on WITF's Smart Talk, he says his daily visits to classrooms are painful.

"It's heart-wrenching. I'm not a bleeding heart individual, I'm telling you the reality of what I'm dealing with. I'm also a father of children from ages eight through 12, and they ask me questions. Dad is school going to close? What do we do if school closes?"

Gorham says when children are anxious, they can't learn because they're pre-occupied.

He expects more districts will be impacted by next month - as many as 150 by the end of November.

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