Wilkes-Barre Area School District Reviews High School Options

WILKES-BARRE -- Wilkes-Barre Area School District leaders are now looking at other places to build a new high school after the Wilkes-Barre zoning hearing board denied their application to build it in the Diamond City.

For six months, Wilkes-Barre school leaders planned to build a big new high school on North Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Plans called for the school to house students from both Meyers and Coughlin High Schools. But the Wilkes-Barre city zoning hearing board said no to the 1,800-student school, citing concerns over parking, traffic, and students' safety.

"It's unfortunate that zoning denied us," said Wilkes-Barre Superintendent Brian Costello. "I think the downtown area gave us a unique opportunity where we could have included the city to be a part of our campus."

There was strong public opposition to the plan, including Scott Brady, who owns an office building across the street from the site.

"Just seems silly because they didn't have parking, they didn't have a way to get the people in and out easily, and it would just be a mess," Brady said.

Other people fought against the district's plan because they prefer keeping the current three neighborhood high schools instead of two.

"We think that can be done," said Kim Borland of Save Our Schools. "We think it's a better model for students, and we think it's financially feasible."

But district leaders are now looking at other sites, outlined in a 2014 feasibility study. According to the study, renovating its existing schools is the most expensive and does not seem likely.

"We're going to continue to look at the best possible site where we can place a high school," said Costello.

There are several options. One option includes building a new high school on 37 district-owned acres off of Empire Street in Wilkes-Barre.

The district may also target 80 privately-owned acres off Main Street in Plains Township, among other locations.

The district plans to go over these options at its next board meeting.

2 comments

  • Justin

    Why not look at the land in the former Murray’s complex. There is plenty of land, and it would make a perfect location for a large school complex….

    • James Marusak (@hpbear149den)

      That would only make sense, Justin. plenty of parking, you have Hoban (sorry Redeemer) not too far away. You have several major streets not too far away. And the current owner isn’t doing anything with that eyesore complex anytime soon (just have to not pay any more than you have to for the land, which may be a problem with corruption in the valley). Medical facilities not too far away (Geisinger satellite office as well as General and the main Geisinger hospital not too far away). And you might even be able to build a new central stadium on the site to replace the one at Meyers.

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