PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s been talked about for years and has been the center of controversy.
Now it is rising from the ground. We are talking about the new Wilkes-Barre Area High School. Construction is well underway. The area will one day be the center of high school education for generations of families from the Wilkes-Barre Area School District. Eyewitness News got a first-hand look at the new school.
“This is going to be our wellness area over here this is going to be the gymnasium your auditorium area’s going to go over here and all your classroom wings are going to be off to the right-hand side there,” Jim Callahan, site manager, said.
Callahan is overseeing the construction of the $120 million Wilkes-Barre Area High School. It will be home to students who currently attend Coughlin, GAR and Meyers High School. 1,800 to 2,000 students will call it home.
“We’re trying to get two classroom wings done over here undercover so the trades can continue working through the winter,” Callahan said.
The school is scheduled to be completed for the 2021-2022 school year. It is a project that continues to be the center of controversy in the community. But school district officials are confident it is the students who will write the book on the future of the school.
“What we’ve learned through this transition is if we just take a backseat and we learn from our students the way that they have become leaders within our community and have come together as one clearly shows that the district is much stronger together, united than we have been divided,” superintendent Brian Costello said.
As the construction moves forward, auditors from the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s office met with Wilkes-Barre Area School District officials, including Costello at Coughlin High School. The state reached out to the district back in August after 30 residents filed a complaint with the Auditor General’s office raising questions about the project. The district says it has nothing to hide and gave the auditors any and all information pertaining to the project.
“We did request a face to face meeting with the Auditor General and his staff so that we can answer any concerns that they most certainly would have with the new project,” Costello said.
State auditor Eugene DePasquale was not in Wilkes-Barre Thursday. His spokesperson said this is a review of the project, not a full-blown audit. School officials tell Eyewitness News that the project is on track and should be completed in time for the 2021-2022 school year.