In five years, pension contributions for area school districts are projected to increase by $172.9 million.
With reduced levels of state funding and limits on how much districts can raise local property taxes, superintendents fear there will be one option: bankruptcy.
The recently passed 2012-13 state budget did nothing to address what many call the upcoming "pension crisis." From fiscal 2011-12 to 2015-16, contributions are set to triple. Area districts have already furloughed teachers, cut tutoring programs and increased class sizes.
It may only be the beginning.
The projected five-year increase for the 37 school districts in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties is more than three times the $51.5 million that the districts saw slashed in the 2011-12 state budget and not restored for 2012-13.
"It seems almost that if we ignore it, it will go away. Well it's not," Scranton Superintendent William King said. "It doesn't seem like it's a priority on the state level, and quite frankly it needs to be. ... If this is not addressed at the state level, school districts are going to go bankrupt."