ERIE, Pa. — The Erie School Board adopted a resolution Wednesday to accept Erie’s Public Schools’ recommendations for reorganization.
As a projected $10 million deficit looms over the district, the regular board meeting was held at East High–one of two high schools, along with Strong Vincent–which would be converted to middle schools under the preliminary plans.
The board adopted a resolution to proceed with Option A, which calls for merging the schools all at once in time for the 2017-2018 school year.
“It’s a process to get it done quick and over the summer, and combine everybody next year,” said Frank Petrungar, Jr., president of the Erie School Board.
Option A would save around $4 million after the cost of debt services for renovations to Central Tech. An alternative plan, Option D, got the support of board directors Linda Aleksandrowicz and Robbie Fabrizi.
That plan would mean phasing the transition over two school years. It would reduce potential savings by more than $1 million, but buy more time for decision-making.
In total, the board considered five consolidation options based on timelines with most of the savings would come from staff cuts.
“We have to ensure that the Central building is going to be ready for the influx of kids next year,” said Brian Polito, chief financial officer of Erie’s Public Schools.
That influx of students from different parts of the city could cause rivalry and safety concerns, according to One of the concerns with immediate consolidation is safety, according to Fabrizi.
He said, “If it would’ve been Plan E, it would’ve started off with ninth-graders; and you would’ve created a school culture from there.”
Fabrizi said the students and administration need more time.
“I am very, very much in favor of consolidation. I know it’s needed, but I just believe that it should’ve taken more time for planning,” he added.
However, Petrungar is looking forward to implementing the changes quickly. He said the process of restructuring schools is not new.
“I think it was three years ago we did with the middle schools, and this is similar even though it was with smaller kids. I’ve listened to the same concerns and I very much have faith in our administration to get this done.”