HAZLE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) Overcrowding has been a growing concern for the Hazleton Area School District. Eyewitness News has reached out to school board members to find out what the status is so far and what the next will be taken next.
With a student body population that has grown from roughly 8,500 to more than 12,000 students over the last two decades, it’s been hard to keep up with the demand for space. The current focus, the high school.
“The cafeteria has been overcrowded since day one,” said school board member and Crestwood superintendent Robert Mehalick. “The hallways have been congested almost from the get-go.”
That cafeteria has been the scene for many issues, some have been the center of Eyewitness News reporting.
“We need to make more room in there so they can have a decent lunch without bumping into each other and causing other problems,” added fellow board member Edward Shemansky.
Over recent years, the elementary and intermediate students have seen a re-purposing of a catholic high school and even closing of pools to make classrooms.
“We’ve addressed overcrowding just about every year since I joined the board and here we are again,” said Mehalick.
A Wednesday night committee meeting and subsequent board meeting on February 27, may see another solution to a re-occurring problem.
“A possible 12 room, maybe 16 room addition but also adding onto the cafeteria where we’re hurting for some room,” said Shemansky.
The plan would call for somewhere around $9 million to $20 million. The board says they aren’t looking to do anything extravagant, just solve the overcrowding issue yet again.
“We need to make sure that our kids are in an environment that is safe and secure,” added Mehalick. “That starts with an environment that is not overcrowded.”
Eyewitness News will continue to follow this developing story.