W-B Area School Board Votes To Build New High School, Close Others

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The Wilkes-Barre Area School Board has finally made a decision on whether to build a new high school and where that school will be located.

The district voted to move forward with those plans at a meeting Wednesday night to build that new school at the site where Coughlin High School sits currently.

“I would just like to ask the audience who is here by a show of hands to oppose the board's imminent decision to vote to build on Coughlin site, who here opposes the decision,” said parent Lois Grimm.

With hands raised high, the packed auditorium here at G.A.R. High School sent their message of opposition to a proposed plan before the Wilkes-Barre area School Board.

The board debating whether to reduce the district's high schools from three schools to two.

“By making a decision of this magnitude without consulting the public, the community in which this decision affects you are not honoring the trust that we put in you to respect this community,” said Gabby Richards, a 2011 graduate of Meyers High School.

The superintendent says Meyers and Coughlin, both aging schools, are financially and realistically beyond repair.

“Both James M. Coughlin and E. L. Meyers High Schools were showing signs of years of deterioration and neglect,” said Dr. Bernard Prevuznak.

The board decided the best solution was to close both high schools and build a new 9th through 12th grade high school on the Coughlin site, creating a new centralized school to take students from both.

The board vote 7 to 2 to move ahead with that plan to build a new high school and keep G.A.R. as the other high school.

“I don't want to see a combined school because how detrimental to education that is. all three city schools have the perfect number of students as far as enrollment goes as far as educational opportunities, academic achievement, extracurricular participation,” said Meyers student Josh Schiowitz.

There are 7th and 8th students at Meyers.

The plan for those students is to build a facility at Kistler Elementary and turn that school into a K through 8.

“This is just the beginning,” said Dr. Prevuznak. “I'm sure there will be some other options coming up but it's the start of a new school.”

The cost for this restructuring project is expected to be roughly $100 million.

The new facility could be ready by 2017 or 2018.

 

12 comments

  • John

    Where were our city official’s and Mayor last night? With such a HUGE decision being made in the city and NOBODY attends! But they want our votes come election time! George Brown, who lost in the primary’s, was there! To take the ability off the table for the citizens of Wilkes-Barre to vote should also make a statement that something is not right here. The only 2 school board members who cared for what the people want are Rev. Shawn Walker and Christine Katsock! They were the only 2 being fair last night. Mr. Galella, please tell me how this is the only way? The numbers do not add up. How can we afford a HUGE school, a sports complex (which isn’t even relevant for the school problems), an addition on Kistler, and last money into Mackin. Mr. Caffrey, I thought you would have fought MUCH harder for another solution. The numbers in the study don’t add up. You are rushing into it. The fixes for Meyers in a 25 year span were shown. Explain to me again how this is the only option? A man we all looked up to for so many years. has lost the respect of many. YOU could have been fair and given the public a voice come November! Superintendent Bernard Prevuznak, you might want to clue in board member Ned Evans for telling some of us people the new school will fit 2200-2400 kids compared to your numbers. Oh wait, that is just another lie, right? It’s all suspicious to many who are paying attention! Citizen’s we need to go higher than these fools. We need to get an investigation started on where the money is really going because this is just not right. To vote 5-4 against the people voting. Most of this school board has brought more shame to this city. Where we should have unity to improve it. Like we don’t have enough garbage in this city from all the corruption. I’d rather see the district go bankrupt and the State take over this mess!

  • frank rizzo

    All the years of neglect on those two schools is the main cause of all this. It makes you wonder about the upkeep of the remaining schools. Unfortunately, a new school is what is needed. They let this go to the point of no return instead of investing in repairs over the years. I’ve heard they are buying property next to Coughlin that would double the amount of land. Meyers does have the bigger land parcel, and one would think a newer building might even have a smaller foot print even thought it would house more students. Meyers is huge, but there is a lot of wasted space in the building. If the Meyers site was used, the part of the property that the boiler room sits would obviously not be used for that anymore and frees up even more space for parking. They could have even just build a parking garage underneath like most office buildings do to save space. But, now that there would be about 1300 more students needing to be bused to Meyers, where do you put all those buses? Where as if the Coughlin site will be used, you only need buses for about 550-600 more students since Meyers 7-8 grades would not be attending there. It’s a tough call all around. Every site has pro’s and con’s. At the end of the day, a new school is a win for students. When this is all said and done, they should probably do a moderate renovation to GAR to upgrade and not make those people in that neighborhood feel ripped off.

  • Tyrant Moore

    This is horrible, Tradition and Generations come to mind when I think of Meyers My brothers Robert and Damon Moore as well as my Nephews Rasheed and Maliek Moore Have gone or currently attend Meyers, All of them are Star athletes My brother Damon took his team in the 90s to a state championship in basketball He played against Kobe Bryant in high school. Mohawks run in our blood, to this day you can walk the halls and see pictures of Robert Moore and Rocket Ismail on the track team, as well as Damon’s team trophies Damon’s team pictures. Rasheed WHO JUST GRADUATED 2 years ago was a basketball star This school board sucks, It should be ashamed of its self to just randomly decide to take something that has so much history and make a choice on there own to close it down When ITS NOT THEM THAT HAVE THE HISTORY AND MEMORIES IN THIS SCHOOL! JUST MONEY! THIS IS A COMMUNITY DECISION NOT A WEALTHY ONE! …….I SAY A VERY VOCAL PROTEST SHOULD BE RALLIED!

    • A member of Mohawk Nation

      That is what happened at G.A.R. tonight. But only 2 board members actually listened and cared! Rev. Shawn Walker and Christina Katsock voted NO. The rest could have cared less! KARMA! We are not giving up this fight just yet!

  • Valfreyja

    Combining high schools is not defaco “detrimental to education”. It’s got way more to do with average class size and the quality of the faculty. And yet again, WNEP has failed to do its job as JOURNALISTS by getting the relevant facts. How big WILL each class size be? Will teachers be kept on or are many being laid off? How will this affect local taxes, both directly and in terms of any infrastructure upgrades necessary to facilitate a modern school?

    How inept can you possibly be that I, a guy with no journalism background, can think of these highly relevant questions in under 5 minutes and you don’t? WNEP…this is disgraceful.

    • A member of Mohawk Nation

      Oh, I read that the new school will fit 2200 – 2400 kids from grades 9th-12th. Do the math on class size. Graduation will be only 4 hours long. So many questions were asked at the meeting. Many were dodged. They had their minds made up no matter what. We need to clear the board and start over with people we can trust. We voted them in. I completely regret that now.

  • WB Parent

    You have to give this board credit. This decision is the hardest decision a school district ever faces. No one wants to end tradition. But you will see new tradition as the two merged schools begin a new filbert against GAR. Great memories ahead. Focus on that. It was the right thing to do.

    • A member of Mohawk Nation

      Credit for what exactly? Lying? Not caring one bit about the community that put them in this position? Not showing true facts and figures? Keeping things under wraps? Rushing into something that isn’t a guarantee? Shall I go on, and on? Educate yourself on large schools vs. smaller school, it is an eye opener. Also, for the record and so you are aware G.A.R. is coming along with this crazy ride! Putting all 3 schools together, 9th – 12th grades in a school built for 2200 – 2400. Class sizes…HA! The right thing to do would have been to give the people a vote. Let’s come to your house and change up your life, your family traditions, and completely ruin it. Ya, I didn’t think so. We don’t want that either! But tonight that is the disrespect we were handed!

  • Sonite

    Sorry if this sounds rude but… If the new school will be built where couhglin is located now. Where will the coughlin students be during this time. Also these plans of building a new school where Coughlin is located are not very well thought out. They will be building that school in a flood area, if a flood happens and damages the school then where will the students go? Will they have to wait until the school can be used and make up their time lost during the summer. Then there’s transportation, the students in the Meyers are are mainly walkers and others get transportation by parents. But if we have a new school built in the original Coughlin area then transportation must be provided to the students by the school. If it will not be provided for them then most students may not be able to attend because they will not have a way there. If transportation is provided then the school will be spending this extra a mount of money to transport students originally from two schools. Coughlin students have the availibility to ride the bus. Meyers does not so if they will be paying for transportation then it is an extra cost. If they tear down Meyers, would they destroy the field out back? Because Coughlin certainly has no space for a new field. That field is used by some schools. During football season if they leave that field there, but the student needs to stay 10th period for a class how will they arive to the field for practice on time since it is not behind the school? Now my final point. There is a STEM area in the basement of Meyers High School which many people have put in money to transform the area downstairs. The area used to be full of garbage and unmanagable but with the money that has been provided they have created a new area that is unimaginable. They have put money into the STEM program and will continue to make new renovations and improvements. But if we tear down the school then it would have all been for nothing. I’m really sorry if that sounded rude but trust me there are more problems with this idea. Such as how are they going to fit that many students from two schools to one school? Will the classes have 40 even 50 kids in them? If so then how will they have that one on one focus and how will they keep consentrated with so many students around? Please ask yourself these questions. Does building that new school seem like such a great idea now? And either way, why is there a problem if we have 3 schools in district. It hasn’t caused any problems before.

    • A member of Mohawk Nation

      They say they cannot afford the 3 schools anymore. I have heard enrollment is down (let’s build a giant school) and that transportation costs an issue (Meyers doesn’t use bus transportation and kids can walk to events, practice, activities at the school) and the last so called reason maybe they pay people to much. Why not give Coughlin a new school? A Coughlin size school, not a mega mistake. They will go to Mackin. That school they shut down but are now pumping money into to place students while the mega mistake is built.. I would love to see an itemized bills of what things cost to make. The pockets of friends and family again are ahead of what is right in this city. Haven’t we seen enough corruption going on. Hope the Fed’s are still watching. Seems everyone can be bought for a price.

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