W-B Area’s new high school will hike taxes
The project will raise the district budget by an average of $6.3 million.
The plan to build a new consolidated high school in Plains Twp. is going to increase the Wilkes-barre Area School District budget by an average of $6.3 million a year, according to a new projection.
The net affect on the district property tax rate is an increase of 2.32 mills — $2.32 for each $1,000 in property assessment. The cost projections are included in a booklet prepared for the Oct. 29 hearing on the project. One option to fund the project is through bond issue with debt payments that start in September 2019 and end in March 2059. The total district cost is nearly $264 million, and the interest cost is nearly $180 million.
The district plans to merge its three high schools — Meyers, GAR and Coughlin — into the new high school in Plains Twp. during the 2021-22 school year. A resolution established a maximum cost of $137.3 million for the project.
The district is buying a 78-acre site in Plains Twp. for the new school from Pagnotti Enterprises for $4.25 million. The district budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year is nearly $122 million, and the tax rate is $18.0364 mills.
School officials have said building a new consolidated facility will cost significantly less than repairing aging high school buildings. They also claim the consolidation will reduce personnel and operating costs.
The new high school will have 200 employees and 2,100 students in grades 9-12 when it opens. It can accommodate up to 2,520 students, and the program area will consist of 401,500 square feet, including a natatorium.
The school auditorium will have 1,100 seats, and the main gym will have 1,800 seats. By combining the main gym with an auxiliary gym, seating can be
expanded to 3,000.
The Oct. 29 hearing on the school projects is scheduled to start 6 p.m. at Solomon Plains Elementary/junior High School in Plains Twp. Anyone who wishes to speak at the hearing must sign in by 5:55 p.m.
The time limit for each public speaker at the hearing is three minutes. Additional written comments can be submitted to the district or the state Department of Public Education until 30 days after the hearing.