Consolidation is a very bad idea
Editor: In a flurry of fluff journalism, we all learned the colors and nickname of the non-existent Wilkes-barre Area High School which purportedly will bind student competitors in the next academic year.
I use the term academic to remind all that residents, students and the district leadership should be acting in an academics-first manner. The appetite for 6A football is black and blue camouflage for the academic deterioration and increased operating costs that almost uniformly follow consolidation. That’s why consolidation has not been suggested in a major article in 40 years. The district leadership thinks if we are all diverted with colors and mascots they will have won tacit acceptance of their stumbling and wasteful path to academic consolidation.
While all of that may seem like tired old (but deadly accurate) claims against an unstoppable march, what about the building site? Forget for a second the busing, lack of infrastructure and access road. Forget the exorbitant land price the district will pay Pagnotti Enterprises. Forget noise pollution from the Cross Valley, a big bill from PENNDOT and abandoned Wilkes-barre neighborhoods.
Why in the name of heaven, though, would you build on a site retaining coal ash and where the soil is contaminated by arsenic and cadmium? Our illustrious school board majority loves to say they must merge to avoid kicking the facility can down the road. Well, they have potentially kicked the students down a road to learning disorders, kidney disease, asthma, and cancer among others. While no such disorder is a certainty, this site has that potential, enough so that a number of states have banned school construction with these toxin levels. Our community must insist on the same level of safety. This is an appalling public health hazard compounding a pathologic academic decision. Mark Schiowitz, MD Wilkes-barre