TIMELINE: Road To Consolidation
Officials discover exterior deterioration at Meyers and Coughlin high schools.
The school board agrees to pay four firms more than $400,000 to conduct of feasibility study of district building options.
The board approves a plan to spend $8 million renovating the closed Mackin Elementary School, so it can be used as a backup location in case Coughlin is closed.
The feasibility study is released and determines renovating Coughlin and Meyers high schools would cost nearly $72 million more than constructing new buildings at the current Meyers and Coughlin locations.
The board votes to approve a plan to merge Meyers and Coughlin with a new high school at the Coughlin site in downtown Wilkes-Barre, keep GAR High School as a high school facility and build an addition to Kistler Elementary School for 7th and 8th grades. The estimated cost of that plan is initially more than $80 million.
The district closes Coughlin’s main building and moves Coughlin’s 11th and 12th grades into the Coughin annex and the ninth and 10th grades into Mackin.
The board rejects a proposal to implement a split schedule for Coughlin at Mackin for four grades and a proposal to buy modular classrooms for Coughlin’s 11th and 12th grades. The district now plans to negotiate a lease to put Coughlin’s 11th and 12th grades in the old Times Leader building on North Main Street.
Consolidation opponents quickly embrace a proposal from Bob Sypniewski, a Shavertown man who claimed he had a team of private investors lined up to provide millions of dollars to fund renovations to keep all three high schools in the district. But the proposal fizzles quickly amid doubts of whether his plan was legal and whether Sypniewski could pull it off.
The Wilkes-Barre Zoning Hearing Board rejects requests by the district to build a consolidated high school on the Coughlin site, but approves requests to allow the conversion of the Times Leader building into a privately owned school building.
The board does not appeal the Coughlin-site zoning decision and votes to spend up to $51,000 on feasibility studies of three new sites for a new high school in Plains Twp. The district abandons the plan for a lease to use the old Times Leader building and will keep Coughlin’s 11th and 12th grades in the annex now that the district isn’t going to demolish the Coughlin buildings to build a new high school there. The district spends nearly $4.9 million on the Coughlin-site plan, including expenditures on asbestos abatement, pre-demolition work and design work.
The board votes to merge Coughlin and Meyers in a new facility on a new site — the 78-acre Pagnotti Enterprises site between Maffett and South Main streets in Plains Twp.
The state Department of Environmental Protection gives conditional approval to the school district allowing the construction of the new high school on the Pagnotti site.
The school board votes to officially designate the Pagnotti property as the “best site” for the new high school.
Guerline L. Laurore, the president of the local chapter for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, criticizes district officials for not including GAR in the consolidation.
The board votes to merge the Coughlin, Meyers and GAR athletic programs starting in the 2019-20 school year.
The board votes to approve the consolidation of all three high schools when the new high school opens during the 2021-22 school year. GAR now will become a middle school when the new high school for grades 9 to 12 opens. The district abandons the plan to build an addition to Kistler Elementary School for the 7th and 8th grades.
The board votes to approve Wolfpack as the nickname/mascot of the new high school.
Meyers defeats GAR in the last football game between the rival high schools.
The board votes to hire Coughlin head football coach Ciro Cinti as the first head coach of the Wilkes-Barre Area Wolfpack and approves checks to buy the Pagnotti property for $4.25 million.
The Luzerne County Conservation District issues a permit with assistance from the state Department of Environmental Protection that approves the district plan to address stormwater discharge, erosion and sediment control during construction of the new high school and allows the district to proceed with construction.
The district opens bids for 11 construction contracts, and the board awards 11 contracts for a total of $88.2 million. The total project cost, which includes preliminary, design and management work, is $121 million.
April 12, 2019
Officials hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the new high school project in Plains Twp.