"Overall, as a whole district we did not make the increase that we would have liked to have made this year," said Harrisburg School District Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney. The state has yet to release the actual scores, but Knight-Burney said they are disappointing and worse than last year’s scores.
So why are they so bad?
"We've had over a thousand (employees) furloughed in the last four years. We've had resignations. We've had a five percent decrease in our salaries," said Knight-Burney.
"We refer to it as an exodus of teachers. In the past year we have lost over 110 teachers," said Harrisburg Education Association President Rich Askey who was a teacher in Harrisburg for more than 30 years. He said it's it's sad to see so many teachers go, but that he's also mad because this month the district announced they had a $10 million dollar surplus even though teachers took a pay cut.
"Ever since we took the five percent cut they've been finding more money. Every time they turned over a cushion on their sofa they found more money, meanwhile our folks are the lowest paid teachers in the area," said Askey. District officials said they plan to reimburse teachers for the pay cut in January of 2014 with some of the money from the surplus, but Askey said the teachers are still making roughly $12,000 less than teachers in other districts, which needs to change to make the district more appealing for good teachers. However the superintendent said they have to address more than that.
"We're fighting against other things like wondering if kids are going to come to school everyday. Dealing with attendance issues. Even dealing with home issues," said Knight-Burney. The district has made a commitment to meet the state's education standards before 2018.