Today, Todd Eachus presented a check for the auditorium renovation currently underway at Hazleton Middle School in the amount of $1 million dollars. Unfortunately the taxpayers of Pennsylvania won't be getting the credit they deserve for providing the money. Instead the consumate politician, like a chess player, calculated and plotted this move for political capital.
At a time when we need the potholes fixed in our streets and more police patrolling our neighborhoods Mr. Eachus gives us the "Wizard of Oz".
Currently the Hazleton Area has two excellent venues for the performing arts, the J.J. Ferrara Center and the Hazleton High School Auditorium. According to the Pennsylvania Theatre For the Performing Arts(PTPA) website they have additional venues at The Strand in McAdoo and The Factory in Nuremberg. In fact the PTPA went on to purchase the J.J. Ferrara Center in January, 2010.
Why would the Hazleton Area School District want to compete with the Pennsylvania Theater For The Performing Arts, a non-profit group? Non-profits are struggling today with the current economic environment. As a matter of fact Governor Rendell is proposing further cuts on top of the ones already leveled at the arts in his 2010-2011 budget.
Not one other Middle School in the Hazleton Area School District has an auditorium. Not Valley, Freeland, Drums, McAdoo or West Hazleton. Are we providing an auditorium for elementary and middle grade students to entertain them or should we be more concerned about their educational needs?
Mr. Eachus had an opportunity to provide some meaningful funding for educational needs and blew it. At the present time there are not enough textbooks for our children so they may take one home to help with their studies. They are being taught in modular trailers.
Students in Ninth grade currently must travel between up to four buildings to get their education-the former Hazle Elementary School now part of the High School Complex, modular trailers, the Hazleton Area Career Center, and the Hazleton Area High School building. There is not enough time between classes for these children to eat lunches or get their coats for the inclement weather. There are security concerns expressed over the fact that students must walk from building to building. But they will get to see "Toto and the Tinman" courtesy of Eachus et al.
The Hazleton Area High School currently houses over 3,200 students constructed for approximately 1700. Inmates in our prisons are not subject to overcrowding of that magnitude.
The Hazleton Elementary Middle School lacks the proper parking for any significant event. The auditorium itself was never designed for quality performances. With the Mohegan Sun Arena, Penn's Peak, the Scranton Cultural Center and Kirby Center the last thing this area needed was another venue. With the facilities available in the Hazleton Area the market was hardly saturated demonstrating a need to throw a million dollars into a school auditorium.
Eachus, like Frank Harrison, lost touch with the needs of our communities. Instead he is focused, just like his participation in the Bonusgate shenaningans, on winning elections. Today's announcment was a "feel good" action for his cronies who can claim they are getting their pet project completed. A million dollars would have gone a long way to purchase more textbooks, pencils, paper, and notebooks for our students. A million dollars would have gone a long way to construct some classrooms to aleive the overcrowding. After all education is the priority here, or should be.
When will the needs of our children come first over winning elections? Of course, when one refuses to repay an illegal pay raise and uses per diems to fund a mortgage on a second home why would we expect anything less?