If you lean toward optimism, the actions taken Monday night by the Warren County School Board might offer images of a chrysalis containing the material necessary to build a butterfly.
If you lean toward pessimism, it might be a different image.
We’ll stick to the former for now, hoping the metamorphosis of the Warren County School Board will, indeed, produce a more effective and efficient physical plant in the long run. We hope that what was once a voraciously consumptive thing will become something much more appealing and worthwhile.
Certainly, the birthing process has been expensive, with more than $30 million borrowed to convert two high/middle schools to K-12 facilities and another $14 million to make improvements to Warren Area High School.
Nevertheless, we are well on our way to seeing a completely different northern district with the closing of Sugar Grove Elementary and the repurposing of Russell Elementary by the end of the coming summer.
Russell Elementary’s conversion to an administration building this year will theoretically save the district $150,000 a year in rent paid to the state for quarters at Warren State Hospital, though you might temper that savings with the normal costs of operation of a building that might have otherwise been mothballed and perhaps sold.
Next up will be Sheffield Middle/High School’s conversion to K-12 and the relocation of elementary students from Sheffield and Allegheny Valley elementary schools.
After that, the work on WAHS.
It is a long and expensive process, but still one of which we remain optimistic.
We have to be optimistic, because with construction and renovation already well underway, we have passed the point of no return.