ERIE, Pa - In a 7-2 vote, the Erie School Board has accepted the district administration's proposal to have consolidation plans complete by the the start of the new school year.
Transportation, safety, and the $67 million addition to Central Tech are amongst the main concerns expressed by the community after last night's consolidation decision.
Superintendent, Doctor Jay Badams, says the administration is glad to finally have a sharper focus and eager to begin finalizing details.
Some of those details include making decisions on where displaced students will attend school, based on their address.
He says transportation will actually be easier from a stand point of being able to provide bus passes through the EMTA.
"One of the concerns in a quick consolidation is the safety of the students."
School Director, Robbie Fabrizi, strongly opposed the immediate consolidation plans because of safety concerns.
He says there's an inherent danger when they force students together in a rushed situation.
And in the past, when discussing consolidation possibilities, slowly acclimating the kids into a new school was always the plan.
"With the financial crunch, all of a sudden, those considerations were put aside because of financial reasons and I'm just not able to put those aside. I feel that in my heart the kids have to be the first consideration."
Doctor Badams says there shouldn't be concern because they will continue to tend to safety and security matters, as they always do.
Badams also says that the projected $67 million addition to Central Tech will most likely end up costing less than that.
And he says the renovation plans are necessary since Central Tech hasn't seen any major renovations since the '50s.
"In working with our banks, we realized we do have the ability to handle about $3 million a year more in debt service."
Doctor Badams says the district is building a webpage that will address various details about the consolidation and that the district will continue to work transparently with the community.