By Michael P. Buffer, Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice
The Wilkes-Barre Area School Board is meeting today to get public input on a plan to demolish Meyers High School in 2020, preserve the Meyers auditorium and renovate the football stadium on the South Wilkes-Barre site.
The school board on Oct. 17 voted 6-2 to explore development of the conceptual plan for the Meyers site and also authorized the design of a second football stadium in the district at Solomon Plains Junior High/Elementary School in Plains Township.
Installing seats, lights and artificial turf at the football field at Solomon Plains would cost $5 million to
$7 million. The Meyers site options are estimated to cost $15 million to $17 million.
Kim Borland, an attorney active with a group known as Save Our Schools, criticized the district for providing “a disgraceful amount of notice” for the meeting that “is only an afterthought.”
He added the district “is on a rush to judgment and making a farce of public input” and claimed building “a second, brand new, lighted football stadium in Plains” is “bizarre” for a district facing financial problems.
Save Our Schools wants the board to get a second opinion on the determination that renovating the entire Meyers building would cost $113 million.
“Mr. Borland’s opinion is just his opinion,” school board member Ned Evans said Monday, noting other residents of South Wilkes-Barre and the school district have other opinions.
The board decided last year to merge Meyers and Coughlin high schools into a new facility built on the Coughlin site in downtown Wilkes-Barre after officials determined the district could no longer afford to operate three high schools. GAR High School is the other district high school and is not part of the consolidation plan.
The Meyers auditorium could be used as a community performing arts center, and the renovated building could possibly be used as a regional magnet school for performing arts, Superintendent Brian Costello said last week.
The school district can move ahead with the Meyers site plan because the state has secured funding to distribute assistance to local districts for school building projects, Costello said.
District officials are confident the district will receive $20 million to $24 million in PlanCon state funding for current projects, including the expansion of Kistler Elementary School in South Wilkes-Barre and the construction of the new high school at the Coughlin site. Those projects will cost more than $100 million, and the new high school building would allow Coughlin and Meyers to merge in 2020.
The district is looking to install seats, lights and artificial turf at the football field at Solomon Plains by the fall of 2017.