Closing high school?
I read with interest a column in the May 1st, 2019 Warren Times Observer entitled “Not so fast.” The thrust of the article was YHS students expressing their alarm at the potential shutdown of Youngsville HS over the next few years, together with non-committal responses from a few Warren County school officials. Most of your readers, I’m sure, can understand the passion and concern of students, who are sensing that their community school may be shuttered. What I can’t understand, and what I see as inexcusable, is the calculated disregard by Warren County school board members.
It is my understanding that currently, Youngsville lacks any regional representation on the board. Therefore, Warren, Sheffield and Eisenhower high schools are well positioned, given their board representation, not to feel any immediate threat. But, for a moment, let’s consider some of the reasons the WCSD finds itself in this situation. I readily concede that I haven’t lived in Warren County for forty years; nonetheless, I try to stay aware of what goes on in my home territory. Warren High School has undergone some significant construction programs and upgrades over the last few years; and though it may be suggested that these initiatives were overdue, they were undertaken in light of dwindling resources and county school enrollments. Eisenhower also has required ongoing investments in the physical plant. Over the years, Eisenhower has put a significant strain on the county school budgets because of transportation requirements of a school that buses students from Russell to the state line to Sugar Grove to Bear Lake. It could well be argued that investing dollars in the Lander location is reckless, particularly when Bear Lake/Sugar Grove students could easily be transferred to YHS and state line/Russell students could be absorbed in WHS. It’s not just a matter of dollars… it’s also a matter of who happens to be sitting on the WCSD board of directors.
I know that Warren County schools have changed significantly since I graduated from YHS in ’71 and we have to be mature and realistic enough to face hard choices. However, I also know the quality education I received at Youngsville High School. Before leaving the county, I sang for a number of years with the Spokesmen Quartet, based in Warren County. I received my vocal training and opportunities to sing at YHS. Further, my earliest college experiences came from Edinboro off-campus, which used to be located in North Warren. After completing my undergraduate education at Northeastern University in Boston, I spent over 30 years in higher education administration. During this time, I received my MA from Boston College. At the conclusion of my higher education career, I was asked to serve as CEO of the Massachusetts Higher Education Consortium; this organization served the contractual and procurement needs of over 100 colleges and universities throughout New England. But, this note, Mr. Sitler, is not about me or my resume; rather, it is about a modest-sized high school in NW Pennsylvania that offered me and others an opportunity to envision a future based upon the fine scholastic experience we enjoyed at Youngsville High School.
I would never presume to forecast the future of secondary education in Warren County, but I get greatly disturbed when I read callous comments by county school representatives. I think the residents of Warren County and the alumni of the four high schools deserve better than this sort of lack of accountability and respect. Warren County can do better!
James C. Markel,