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W-B Area School Board Showing Their True Colors

January 8, 2019

Editor: The Wilkes-Barre Area School Board majority has finally shown its true colors. They are not the black and blue of their mythical merged high school. Instead, color them uninformed, obtuse, and indifferent to the health of teachers, staff and students. The district’s meandering path to a three-high-school consolidation has attracted opposition, particularly from citizens group Save Our Schools. People might cut the board some slack thinking, even if the board disagreed with the abundant factual evidence against consolidation, that a modern school might be desirable and efficient. However, any thoughts that these actions are well-intentioned and that opponents were overreacting are now completely dispelled. The board’s eagerness to place this school on a site replete with soil toxins, coal waste, soft ground, expressway pollution, and worst of all, 40 acres of disease-associated coal ash is incomprehensible. If there is a future chronic disease and/or cancer cluster, it will be on the heads of this leadership. After spending $5 million on site preparation elsewhere, which the district lost when they did not receive zoning clearance, they proceeded to spend at least $1 million at the current coal mine without first purchasing it. The district has agreed to spend $4.25 million on this land assessed at $800,000. PennDOT has told them the district will also need to fund some Cross Valley Expressway work. No major articles in education have supported consolidation since the 1970s. Experts favor more cost-effective school renovations, noting that schools from the 1930s can become green 21st century schools, which will vastly outlast new construction. These mergers are associated with less school participation, falling achievement, more security issues, more dropouts and more students spending more time on buses. With cost, achievement and health all jeopardized, this undertaking must halt. The public and the media should be outraged. Mark F. Schiowitz WILKES-BARRE

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