A Message from the Superintendent
The Wilkes-Barre Area School District has been committed to providing students an educational foundation that allows them to excel in all aspects of society. Graduates of Wilkes-Barre Area Schools are not only prepared for post-secondary education, but are also leaders within the community, armed services, and possess the necessary skills to be productive members of the workforce. Last year alone, our graduates were awarded scholarships in excess of $8 million. The district takes tremendous pride in the success of our students and will continue to strive for excellence.
In addition to the many challenges school districts face every day, the Wilkes-Barre Area School District is faced with two challenges that require immediate attention. First, district funding, over the last several years, has not kept pace with the mandated expenditures to operate and maintain our current educational model. Secondly, the district is faced with facilities that are either in need of repair or that are functionally obsolete. Multiple studies have identified deficiencies in our buildings and in our educational model. These studies have also identified solutions that come with a variety of price tags — some that are beyond our means.
Over the past two years, the current school board has taken action on these challenges. Faced with budget restrictions, the district determined that a consolidated school on the North Washington Street site was the most fiscally responsible solution that would create a unique educational opportunity where the high school was integrated into the downtown community within walking distance of local colleges and businesses. Although this plan met the needs of the district both educationally and fiscally, district stakeholders raised concerns including location in the flood plain and size of the property.
Based on the recent decision by the Wilkes-Barre City Zoning Hearing Board, I believe this option is no longer viable. Over the next several weeks, I will be providing options to the school board that will include alternate sites, some of which are out of the flood plain and can provide a campus-like setting. These alternatives will continue to support educational excellence in a state-of-the-art facility.
In an effort to address the questions and concerns of stakeholders throughout the district, I will be holding informational sessions at various locations in the community. Dates, times and locations for these informational sessions will be posted on the district website.
Our teachers and administrators, with the support of our school board, will continue to strive for excellence for all students. The recent zoning board decision, though unexpected, has created new opportunities, and I am optimistic about the future of the Wilkes-Barre Area School District.