Our view: Kudos to Costello, boos to Cipriano, and optimism for Laflin

August 11th, 2017 5:22 pm

Diamonds to Wilkes-Barre Area School District Superintendent Brian Costello for planning three “town hall” style meetings, one at each of the district’s three ailing and aging high schools. Costello is the third superintendent to watch each passing school board grapple with problems at the old buildings, and with the damage done through decades of neglect and deferred repairs. And while this is meant as no disrespect to his two most recent predecessors — Bernard Prevuznak and Jeff Namey — most people who have attended board meetings over the years would almost certainly agree Costello has been considerably more willing to engage in direct conversations with the public. Such conversations protract the meetings, and many may walk away still disagreeing with the path being taken toward consolidation of Meyers and Coughlin high schools, but Costello has won praise by audience members — whether grudging or sincere — for at least listening and responding.

Coal to former Hanover Area School District Business Manager Tom Cipriano for launching a legal battle for a severance package. An affable man, Cipriano could show sincere concern for district students — most recently during a May softball game between the district team and Life Skills students. Asked who was winning, he answered “we are.” But Cipriano left under a cloud as board members questioned millions of dollars in what appeared to be bungled bookkeeping. He also left for a new post in another county after being told his contract would not be renewed at the end of September. Yet he had an attorney write a letter seeking the fiscal benefits offered through a district Voluntary Employee Separation Program. He was about to leave the district out of necessity, and left for another job before his contract expired. Asking for the VESP is chutzpah of epic proportions.

Diamonds to Laflin Council for voting to study the possibility of a regional police force that would cover the borough, Pittston Township, Jenkins Township and Dupont. There are always many questions regarding the true cost of a regional force, and residents are always leery of ceding control of their turf to some larger, multi-municipal entity. Those questions take on additional urgency for some in Laflin because council dissolved the police force in 2014 over mayoral objections. But the reality is that many of Luzerne County’s 76 municipalities have been unable to create or sustain their own thin blue lines, and regional forces, done right, could be the best solution, providing full-time coverage by better-trained and better-equipped officers. Dismissing the idea outright is unwise. Council was right to take a step toward the alternative.

Coal, as promised each week, to Harrisburg politicians who still haven’t finalized how to pay for a $32 billion spending plan approved in June. The budget deadline was June 30. It is now Aug. 12. Shame on them all.