Erie School District: consolidate, renovate

Local News

ERIE, Pa. — All options point toward restructuring schools to reduce the $10 million deficit.

The Erie School District presented five possible plans to directors of the board at a non-voting meeting Wednesday.

The recommendations are largely based on when to consolidate schools, resulting in the closures of Strong Vincent and East high schools. Under the plans, Wayne and Emerson-Gridley elementary schools would also close.

“The most cost-effective way would be to do this all at once,” said Erie School District superintendent Dr. Jay Badams, referring to the timeline of merging schools. “If we did that we could see a savings of over $6 million. If we phase it, we could still get to that $6 million savings, but over a longer period of time.

The savings include the elimination of more than 50 teaching positions through incentives such as early retirement packages.

Savings for the 2017-2018 fiscal year could drop to $4 million or less after factoring in the cost of debt services and depending on the timeframe, according to Bea Habursky, assistant superintendent of the Erie School District.

The tentative plans includes major renovations to Central Tech.

“If we’re bringing most of our students in the high schools to Central Tech, we know that we definitely need some renovations there,” said Habursky.

Over the next two-and-a-half to three years, Central Tech could see up to $68 million in improvements, including the construction of a new south wing.

But the plan with the longest timeline and the smallest savings would delay the reconfiguration of high schools until the 2020-2021 school year.

The big question that the board has to wrestle with now is how do we phase this in? Do we do it all at once in the coming school year, or do we implement this over a longer time frame?” asked Badams.

The Erie School Board expects to vote on a plan at the next regular board meeting on Wed., April 19 at East High School, 1001 Atkins St, at 6 p.m.

A final plan must be approved no later than June 22. 

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