W-B Area School Project Must Be Stopped

March 20, 2019

Editor: This community and the media should be aghast at the plans of the Wilkes-Barre Area School District to build a consolidated high school. The most expensive construction project and biggest change in district history should be guided by expert planning, impact studies and community consensus. Instead it’s been slipshod examination of current assets, window dressing for community input, and shoot from the hip planning by groups, which from the outset, intended a large combined school. What should drive such a plan? • Perhaps a shiny school with state of the art technology? (Dependence on it is unrealistic where dollars are limited. High-tech schools have ongoing expensive update issues. I haven’t seen any dollars allotted to hardware, much less its upkeep.) • Surely consolidation saves money. (The expert consensus in the educational literature says exactly the opposite.) • Perhaps students just learn better in a new school? (Actually academic achievement most of the time falls in a consolidated school. Just what this poorly performing district needs) • Well, we won’t have to worry about facilities for a long time. (Elementary schools are overcrowded and ignored in this plan. On average, new construction has a useful life of 40 to 45 years. A 1930s school (GAR/Meyers) when renovated has an indefinite shelf life.) • At least there will be space (Yes, 80 acres, 40 of which was an unlined dump for bottom waste after coal or culm was burned for power. (Think lead, cadmium, chromium, boron and arsenic.) No one can predict if construction and capping can increase water and air issues for nearby residents. Such a cap, which in recreation areas is just soil, will need vigilance and maintenance. Neither education nor finance is served by this boondoggle and now there are major health concerns. This project must be stopped. Mark F. Schiowitz WILKES-BARRE