Furloughed Scranton School District employees speak out

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Paraprofessionals and personal care assistants are among more than 200 Scranton School District employees furloughed.

This comes after the board of directors voted 6-2 on the move at Monday night’s board meeting. There is nothing short of frustration from those teacher aids.
Two weeks ago they found out about possible furloughs from a newspaper article, which came true for all of them Monday night.

Outside the Scranton School District’s administration building, paraprofessionals and personal care assistants or PCA’s gathered to share their story.

“It’s devastating. I can’t even talk about it. It’s just devastating,” PCA Lisa Machek said.

Machek is among 144 paraprofessionals and eight intervention specialists. On top of losing her job, her health insurance will stop on September 30th, the same day she will be furloughed, and prescription benefits one month later.

“My family was covered by it, so now I have, you know, people that depend on me,” Machek said.

The district’s decision to furlough 222 employees is based on roles and function changes as students learn fully online. These teacher aids believe they provide help to students even during this time.

“They depend on us, we’re their comfort zone. So they’re going to miss us,” Machek said.

“They’re going online and streaming with their teachers, they’re helping make packets. There’s plenty of work. They can make phone calls,” learning support paraprofessional Kristin Baun said.

Baun has been working as a “para” for five years. She earns $20,000 a year, the average salary for her position.

“I work other jobs so I can do what I love to do and help those students who need it,” Baun said.

When asked: ‘Do you think you’ll ever get your job back at the district’, Baun replied, “I’m hopeful. I would love to but honestly I don’t think so.”

As the district looks to call back furloughed employees for needed positions, PCA’s and paraprofessionals hope they are the ones brought back by the end of the month.

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