School Board Extends High School Reconfiguration Decision Timeline

April 25, 2023

RUSSELL, Pa. – The Warren County School District Board of Directors has extended its Master Facilities Plan timeline and is now set to choose a preferred high school reconfiguration option after the 2022-23 school year has ended.

The board held an MFP work session during Monday’s Physical Plants & Facilities Committee meeting where a modified timeline that pushed the decision date to June 12 was agreed to. Previously, the board had moved the decision date from April 24 (Monday) to May 22.

At least one board member hopes this will be the final extension.

“I’m just going to speak for myself, I begrudgingly went along with this bumping it out to June 12,” Joe Colosimo said. “I’m not a big fan of bumping it anymore. So from my perspective, and my perspective only, I’d like to try to hold June 12 to a hard day.”

Board President Paul Mangione explained some of the reasons why the timeline was extended.

“If it wasn’t for some of the things that have popped up, you know, throughout the process, and they’re big pop-ups, I mean, especially like the student focus groups, that’s critical, I feel, to get that input,” Mangione said. “That’s something that we weren’t originally planning on. So that was great. And I think we’re getting through them. And, from a data collection standpoint, administration just can’t work these numbers up overnight. A lot of the data collection is added to the timeline.”

Under the new timeline, the district, along with Strategy Solutions, will conduct additional student focus groups this week. Meanwhile, Strategy Solutions will send a survey to the board on Tuesday asking each member to rank the decision criteria by order of importance.

The criteria are:

  • the amount of time on a bus;
  • class size/maintaining teaching staff;
  • access to pupil services;
  • students’ well-being;
  • implementation cost;
  • positively impact teachers/reduces teacher preps;
  • the value of schools to the community;
  • a learning environment that makes more courses and curriculum available and offers more course levels (college prep, honors, AP, etc.);
  • and repurposing schools to bring in more community services.

During a work session on May 9, the board will discuss what came out of the student focus groups, as well as the main themes gleaned from the first and second public engagement sessions. The board will also see and discuss the results of the public survey that was closed on April 21, and see the consensus for criteria ranking based on their own survey.

The board will hold another work session during the May 22 committee meetings, where board members will hold a dialogue amongst themselves to discuss data relating to the remaining options. During this session, the board will narrow the current list of six options down to two or three.

“So when you look at the calendar, we weren’t thinking, ‘Let’s just push this out.’ Pushing out was so that we can get that May 22 date in here, where the board could actually then engage in a dialogue,” Board Vice President Donna Zariczny said. “Because we’ve been listening to people, we’ve been receiving information. And we’ve been asking questions, but we really haven’t had an opportunity to have an engaged dialogue among ourselves with regard to any of these options.”

The current options on the table are:

  • moving Sheffield 9-12 students to Warren Area High School;
  • splitting Youngsville’s 9-12 students between WAHS and Eisenhower;
  • creating a K-12 school in Youngsville;
  • splitting Eisenhower’s 9-12 students between WAHS and Youngsville;
  • making no changes to the current school configuration;
  • and redrawing the attendance lines to put an equitable number of students in each high school.

The board will then have a work session during its June 12 meeting to select a preferred option. There will be a final public engagement session, at a date to be determined, to present and discuss the pros and cons of the implementation plan for the preferred option.

“I think if everybody can just be patient for another couple of weeks, we do have with the timeline things spelled out a little bit clearer,” Mangione said. “I’m not saying it’s going to be easier from here on out. But at least the expectation will be a little bit clearer from here on out.”

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