Pottstown School Board Leery Of Offer To Refurbish Light Poles

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — Members of the Pottstown School Board showed little interest Thursday in an offer to refurbish the poles that hold up the lights at Grigg Memorial Stadium.

Facilities Director Robert Kripplebauer told the board’s facilities committee meeting Thursday that he had been contacted by a company that had read in The Mercury about the board’s decision to take down the lights at the stadium for safety reasons.

The company — 18th Century Restorations on Coventryville Road — made a similar offer in 2012 and estimated the cost at that time to refurbish the poles and lights to be $60,000.

According to the 2012 quote, which Kripplebauer shared with The Mercury, the work would involve “fabricating new hardware” for the poles and attaching 42 metal straps to keep them in place, as well as epoxy and caulk for cracks in the poles, along with other work.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140411/pottstown-school-board-leery-of-offer-to-refurbish-light-poles

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Cost Overruns, New Roof Costs, Plague Pottstown Elementary Projects

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — A $1.2 million price tag seems to be a little too high for school officials to bear and the school board is being asked Monday to reject the bid to replace the roof at Rupert Elementary School along with some masonry work.

The concern about costs comes as the board is poised to approved more than $225,000 in unbudgeted expense for the construction work at Lincoln, Franklin and Rupert elementary schools.

Instead of accepting the $1.2 million roof bid, the administration is urging that other ways of getting the work done be pursued.

“It’s not that we’re not going to do it,” said Business Manager Linda Adams, “it’s just that we think that price is too high.”

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140321/cost-overruns-new-roof-costs-plague-pottstown-elementary-projects

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Pottstown Schools Eye Eliminating Class Rank

POTTSTOWN, PA — To rank or not to rank?

That may soon be the question.
Class rank has been a staple of high school life, and college admissions, for years beyond count.

But school board member Polly Weand raised the possibility at the Nov. 21 school board meeting that Pottstown may soon opt-out of the practice.

Weand, who chairs the school board’s curriculum and technology, said the discussion is underway at her committee, which presumably will make a recommendation to the full board, perhaps as soon as January.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131128/pottstown-schools-eye-eliminating-class-rank

$10M Borrowing Next Step In Renovation Project For Pottstown Schools

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — With the remaining construction now underway at three elementary schools, the Pottstown School Board is expected to vote at Monday night’s meeting to borrow another $10 million to pay for the project.

The board is expected to authorize the preparation of the bond documents at Monday’s meeting and the auction will occur on Oct. 21, said board member Dennis Wausnock, chairman of the school board’s finance committee.

Work on Franklin, Lincoln and Rupert elementary schools began in May and continues with students back in Lincoln and Franklin and the population of Rupert being taught in the vacant Edgewood Elementary building, which was officially closed in June.

Barth Elementary School, which was officially re-dedicated in a ceremony Saturday, was the first school to be renovated although, unlike the other three, it was not expanded.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/social-affairs/20130921/10m-borrowing-next-step-in-renovation-project-for-pottstown-schools

Pottstown Teacher Charged With Sexual Assault Suspended Without Pay

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — More than a month after a Pottstown Middle School teacher was charged with aggravated assault of a child, the school district confirmed he will not be returning for the start of the new school year.

“Jared Leimeister has been suspended and will not be in the classroom for the 2013-14 school year,” said John Armato, the community relations director for the Pottstown School District.

Leimeister was the eighth-grade science teacher.  The school district’s website says “TBA” next to the open position.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130823/NEWS01/130829647/pottstown-teacher-charged-with-sexual-assault-suspended-without-pay-#full_story

Wiring For Pottstown Schools Renovation Could Cost $375,000

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — You can add new data system wiring to the things not included in the $14 million price tag for renovation and expansion of three elementary schools in the borough.

Thursday night, school board Vice President Robert Hartman Jr., who is also the chairman of the board’s facilities committee, reported that his committee is recommending the additional spending of as much as $375,000 “for data wiring devices installation at Franklin, Lincoln and Rupert elementary schools” according to the agenda of Thursday’s meeting.

There was no discussion among the full board, or questions asked by any of the board members, so it was not immediately clear why this was not included in the budget for the broader expansion/renovation project.

Work began this summer on the renovations and expansion at the three schools, while work is now being completed at Barth Elementary School, where work began a year earlier.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130816/NEWS01/130819430/wiring-for-pottstown-schools-renovation-could-cost-375-000#full_story

Pottstown Property Owners Facing 2.4 Percent Tax Hike Under $53M Budget

POTTSTOWN — Few changes were unveiled Thursday night when the school board’s finance committee met to review the proposed $53 million budget that would raise property taxes by 2.4 percent, or $65.70 per year, for the average property owners.

The 2.4 percent tax hike is the maximum allowed under the state’s Act 1 index without going to the voters for approval.

“There really are very minimal changes from the preliminary final budget you approved last month,” Business Manager Linda Adams told the finance committee Thursday night.

As with most budget deliberations, there was good news and bad news.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130615/NEWS01/130619437/pottstown-property-owners-facing-2-4-tax-hike-under-53m-budget

Pottstown, Pottsgrove, Limerick Primaries On Tap

Editor’s note:  We urge voters to check out the Reform Party candidates for Pottstown Borough Council and mayor of Pottstown.  Pottstown desperately needs a leadership change!  The elected leadership needs to have a positive vision for the future of the borough.   Currently that vision does not exist or if it does, it is a well kept secret.  It’s time to clean house.  Vote the incumbents out of office.

Although the ballot isn’t official yet, primary elections are shaping up in several Montgomery County communities.

As of Friday, some candidates had already withdrawn, but so far it looks like there will be three primary battles in Pottstown, but no contest for the school board.

In the neighboring Pottsgrove School Board race however, it looks like a real race may be brewing and several tax collector contests are in the offing as well.

In the Pottsgrove School Board race, four incumbents — B. Scott Fullmer, Nancy J. Landes, Diane M. Cherico and Michael G. Neiffer — will square off against four challengers.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130331/NEWS01/130339980/pottstown-pottsgrove-limerick-primaries-on-tap#full_story

Pottstown School Board Approves Keystone Tax Break For New Business

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  See what happens when we are all on the same page!  This sends a positive signal to the investment community that Pottstown is “OPEN FOR BUSINESS”.   This needs to happen more often.  Two Thumbs Up to all involved!

POTTSTOWN — With a 7-2 vote Monday night, the Pottstown School Board endorsed a property tax break for a business that wants to re-locate to the former 84 Lumber truss plant on Keystone Boulevard.

School board members Polly Weand and Andrew Kefer cast the only votes against endorsing the Keystone Opportunity Zone tax exemption for Conshohocken-based Heritage Coach Co., which sells hearses and limousines.

The vote comes just three days after state Rep. Mark Painter, D-146th Dist., announced his support for the tax break.

Under the terms of the deal negotiated by Schools Superintendent Jeff Sparagana and Borough Manager Mark Flanders, Heritage would pay no property taxes in the first three years of the 10-year deal.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130326/NEWS01/130329480/pottstown-school-board-approves-tax-break-for-new-business

Pottstown School Board Urged To Approve KOZ Deal

Editor’s note:  We agree!

The Pottstown School Board is set to vote tonight on a tax break deal that would bring a new business to the Keystone Opportunity Zone.

Pottstown Borough Council has approved the tax break, but if the school board votes no, the plan is nixed.

The three boards that levy property tax — council, school board and county commissioners — must all approve it for the business to relocate to Pottstown.  Montgomery County Commissioners have said they will go along with whatever the two local governing bodies decide.

As with council, we urge the school board to vote yes to this proposal as an incentive to business and as a smart move in the longer view of the borough economic development.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130325/OPINION01/130329656/pottstown-school-board-urged-to-approve-koz-deal-#full_story

Pottstown, West Pottsgrove Push Extension Of Keystone Boulevard

POTTSTOWN — Just two days after borough council approved a property tax break for a new business proposed along Keystone Boulevard, officials from the borough and West Pottsgrove Township met to brainstorm about extending the road to the Grosstown Road exit off Route 422.

The extension of Keystone Boulevard through the former Flagg Brass property in West Pottsgrove and over to the Stowe interchange has long been envisioned and was the subject of an $81,000 study by the Rettew Assoc. engineering firm.

Paid for through a grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the grant brought both municipalities together to plan jointly for the project, which could cost as much as $10 million.

Although PennDOT does have plans for a $30 million improvement to the Stowe interchange as part of its long-range plans for upgrading Route 422, Brian Regli, Montgomery County’s Director of Commerce, told the assembled officials not to expect the state to come up with the money for that project any time soon.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130315/NEWS01/130319529/pottstown-w-pottsgrove-push-extension-of-keystone-blvd-#full_story

Pottstown Regional Recreation Post Could Wear Many Hats

POTTSTOWN — Sometimes things just fall into your lap just when you need them.

Just one day after members of the Pottstown School Board and borough council brainstormed about ways they can work together to cut costs and market Pottstown to a broader region, an opportunity to do just that for free was again presenting itself.

During their first joint meeting of the year on Feb. 25, members of both Pottstown boards echoed a common lament, the need to market what Pottstown has to offer to a wider audience, to better coordinate and add to major events and the need for additional funding help from outside sources and the surrounding townships.

On Tuesday, the Pottstown Metropolitan Regional Planning Committee heard about an opportunity being developed over the last year with the help of the Pottstown Health and Wellness Foundation to do many of those things at a ridiculously low cost.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130304/NEWS01/130309833/pottstown-regional-rec-post-could-wear-many-hats#full_story

Pottstown Joint Meeting Wrestles With Jobs Versus Lost Tax Dollars

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — During the first joint meeting of the year between borough council and the Pottstown School Board, discussion was free-flowing and frequent.

Perhaps highest on the list, and the subject which generated the most focused conversation, had to do with a business that wants to occupy the former 84 Lumber truss plant at the end of Keystone Boulevard.

Steve Bamford, the director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development Inc. and the borough’s chief economic development officer, gave for the third time, an overview of the Keystone Opportunity Zone program and the request from Heritage Coach Co. to occupy some of the space there.

Sellers of hearses and limousines, Heritage began as a side business for the Lankford family, which also operated a GM dealership in Conshohocken that was shut down during what Jay Lankford, a Hill School graduate, called GM’s “political sham of a bankruptcy.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130228/NEWS01/130229383/pottstown-joint-meeting-wrestles-with-jobs-vs-lost-tax-dollars#full_story

Pottstown Meeting Set To Boost Borough-School District Cooperation

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Considering the same 5 square miles comprises the school district and the borough, this is well overdue.  However, on a positive note, we will hope this leads to substantive change for the beleaguered Pottstown taxpayer.

POTTSTOWN — It won’t just be the location of the joint school board/borough council meeting Tuesday that is unusual.

The agenda is short, unusual in itself, and further, it is focused almost exclusively on breaking down barriers to cooperation.

“We want to set the stage for collaborating, for open communication,” said schools Superintendent Jeff Sparagana who, along with Borough Manager Mark Flanders, met with The Mercury Thursday to outline their efforts.

“That’s one of the reasons we wanted to have the meeting off-site,” said Flanders. “To put everyone in a setting that encourages participation and interaction.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130225/NEWS01/130229649/pottstown-meeting-set-to-boost-borough-school-district-cooperation#full_story

Objection To Pottstown Elementary Plan Focuses On High Street Crossing

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — Few objections were raised Thursday night when the official redistricting plan for elementary school attendance was unveiled, but the one that was focused on the safety of students crossing High Street.

“I think rather than throwing our children under the bus, we should put them on a bus and come up with a better transportation plan,” said North Hills Boulevard resident Madison Morton.

The only speaker on the subject of redistricting at Thursday night’s public meeting, Morton has a child that currently attends Edgewood Elementary and he is unhappy about the possibility that his daughter’s trip to Rupert Elementary may involve crossing High Street.

Currently, High Street is considered by PennDOT to be a hazardous road similar to Route 100 and, as a result, the district must bus students across it.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130223/NEWS01/130229714/objection-to-pottstown-elementary-plan-focuses-on-high-street-crossing#full_story

Hearing On Closing Of Edgewood Elementary Set For 6 p.m. Thursday

Editor’s note:  Isn’t this like beating a dead horse?  Hasn’t this decision already been made and haven’t people already got their guts in an uproar?  Aren’t the renovations for the other three schools already in the works?  Why can’t Pottstown made a decision and stick with it?  All this vacillating is why NOTHING EVER GETS DONE!

POTTSTOWN — The start of the public’s opportunity to offer comment on the proposed closing of Edgewood Elementary School begins at 6 p.m. Thursday with a public hearing to be held in the cafeteria of Pottstown’s High School.

Called an Act 34 hearing, it is a requirement of Pennsylvania law whenever a school building is to be closed.

However, what is not required, according to School District Solicitor Stephen Kalis, is any kind of informational packet for the public to study before hand.

Rather, he said, the school board’s rationale for its decision to close the building will be offered at the beginning of the hearing, and the public is invited to comment after that.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130212/NEWS01/130219800/hearing-closing-of-edgewood-elementary-set-for-6-p-m-thursday#full_story

Hartman Will Not Seek Fourth Term On Pottstown School Board

Editor’s note:  I can’t blame him.  13 years is a pretty huge commitment. 

POTTSTOWN — For Pottstown School Board member Robert Hartman Jr., 13 years of service is apparently long enough.

At the close of Monday night’s school board meeting, Hartman announced that he will not seek another four-year term on the board in the spring primary elections.

Hartman said that with the deadline for petitions for the primary election approaching, he wanted to be sure his intentions were known so that anyone who is considering running for the office would know whether or not they would have to face him in the polls.

“I’ve heard that other people may be interested and it’s not fair for them not to know,” Hartman said.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130129/NEWS01/130129256/hartman-will-not-seek-fourth-term-on-pottstown-school-board#full_story

Foundation For Pottstown Education Outlines 2013 Goals

POTTSTOWN — As 2012 wound down to a close, the Pottstown School Board got a glimpse of what 2013 may look like — at least in terms of the plans being made by the Foundation for Pottstown Education.

Executive Director Myra Forrest outlined for the board the eight major goals the foundation has set for itself in the coming year.

Here is a brief look at those goals.

• PEAK: The foundation wants to ensure continued funding for PEAK, which stands for Pottstown Early Action for Kindergarten readiness is Pottstown’s signature early education program. It partners with pre-schools and childcare providers to get youngsters read for school.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130105/NEWS01/130109773/foundation-for-pottstown-education-outlines-2013-goals#full_story

Pottstown School Board Will Keep Property Tax Hike To 2.4% State Limit

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — The Pottstown School Board will limit a property tax increase for the 2013-14 school year to 2.4 percent.

Each year about this time, under the state’s Act 1 legislation, school boards must decide whether to have the administration prepare a preliminary budget for examination, or pledge simply to keep beneath the state-determined index or “cap” for any property tax increases required as part of the budget that gets adopted in June.

The law requires that decision to be made 111 days prior to the spring primary.

That’s because if the board decides it wants to adopt a budget with a tax hike higher than the index allows, it must be approved by voters in that election.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130104/NEWS01/130109843/pottstown-school-board-will-keep-property-tax-hike-to-2-4-state-limit#full_story

Ron Downie Reflects On 20 Years In Pottstown Public Service

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Very nice article by Evan Brandt on Ron Downie’s public service to Pottstown.

POTTSTOWN — When Ron Downie first came to the Pottstown area as an infant, his family for a time got water from a hand-pumped well and used an outhouse at a home outside Harmonyville.

Now, he composes poetry on a hand-held electronic device thinner than most books of poetry and shares his words with the mere touch of a button.

All of which is to say he has seen times change.  And he has changed with them.

One of four children of Scottish immigrants, Downie has alternately been a landscaper, a Firestone plant worker, a bartender, a ski-slope operator, a school board member, the president of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and the AMBUCS and the Building and Industries Exchange.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121231/NEWS01/121239979/ron-downie-reflects-on-20-years-in-pottstown-public-service-#full_story