Pottstown Chooses Sparagana As New Schools Chief

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — The school district’s acting superintendent became its official superintendent Thursday night when the school board unanimously approved a three-year contract for Jeff Sparagana worth more than $173,000 a year.

The vote came almost three months to the day after Reed Lindley abruptly resigned as Pottstown Superintendent.

In a vote that appeared nowhere on the night’s school board agenda, Sparagana was provided with a contract that ends on June 30, 2016.

His term begins immediately.   Sparagana’s “aggregate annual salary” will be $173,624, according to the terms of the contract, explained after the vote by School District Solicitor Stephen Kalis.

Personnel Shifts Reduce Pottstown School District’s Administration

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — Departures and changes of personnel over the summer have the Pottstown School District scrambling to cover responsibilities and, at the same time, use the opportunity to “do more with less.”

A number of key administrators are retiring, or have found other jobs, it was revealed at Thursday’s school board meeting.

Among those leaving are Rita Cohen, who is supervisor of secondary special education who is retiring, and Jerry Umamarino, assistant high school principal and Lincoln Elementary Principal Loretta Hoch, both of whom have found employment elsewhere.

The sequence of those departures has forced the Pottstown administration to re-configure and re-configure again, who will be responsible for what and how things will change for the coming school year.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120722/NEWS01/120729777/personnel-shifts-reduce-pottstown-schools-administration

Montco Commissioners Tell Pottstown The Era Of The “Big Check” Is Over

Editor’s note:  What else is new.  The county is over involved in Pottstown‘s affairs and has helped to create a great deal of the problems Pottstown and Norristown both face by making them the dumping group for Section 8 Housing and social services.  Now we just wash our hands and say “see ya”.  Typical!

POTTSTOWN, Pa. — Say goodbye to the big, giant check.

That was one of several messages Montgomery County Commissioners Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards had for Pottstown officials last week during a rare joint meeting of borough council, school board and members of the board of Pottstown Area Industrial Development, or PAID.

Officially, the joint meeting was also the required annual meeting of PAID at which the executive director, Steve Bamford, is required to give a report on the activities of the year before.

But since Bamford was not hired until November, there was not much to tell.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120529/NEWS01/120529365/montco-commissioners-tell-pottstown-era-of-the-big-check-is-over-(video)

Pottstown Pennsylvania – The Land That Time Forgot

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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Evidently we live in a time warp in Pottstown.  Forward momentum and progress are alien concepts here.  Instead we prefer to stick our heads in the sand, cling to the past (and our favorite elementary school) and refuse to look at the grim reality that lies ahead.

Pottstown School District and Pottstown Borough cannot afford to continue to operate in “Leave It To Beaver” mode any longer.  There are serious financial challenges that lie ahead and they need to be addressed in creative and thoughtful ways.  Instead, we have people like Responsible Tom who are trying to push Pottstown back into the 1950’s.

In case nobody has paid attention, the world has changed drastically from the days of Laverne, Shirley and the Fonz (whoa).  People have different expectations these days.   Parents want modern schools with state of the art technology for their children’s education – or at least the middle class, home owning families we are “supposedly” trying to attract to stabilize our tax base do.

Fixing up five old buildings will leave us with five temporarily fixed up old buildings.  Down the road, this problem will have to be painfully addressed again.

The Task Force spent a long time pouring over information.  A variety of people, from all facets of Pottstown life, were included on the Task Force to make sure there would be good representation from all segments of the community.  Now the Task Force has reached their decision and we want to totally invalidate the time and effort they put into this project because some people do not like the outcome.

Progress and change are not easy.  It is painful for many people.  However, for this community to survive and prosper, change must happen.  We can NOT please everyone nor should we try to.  However, in this land that time forgot, where a tiny fraction of the public votes, attends school board or borough council meetings, we continue to delay the inevitable reality that irresponsible spending will only continue to compound our already tenuous financial position.

We need to run the borough and the school district like businesses and stop spending money we do not have before the financial bottom falls out of everything.  If you can’t afford something at home, you don’t buy it.  The same should hold true with spending taxpayer’s money.  We have champagne taste and a beer pocketbook here in Hyltonville.  It’s about time we snap into reality.  Somebody needs to bite the bullet and “let go” of something so that the entire community can move forward.  Until that time comes, Pottstown will be “the land that time forgot”

I leave you with a story.

The Child and the Filberts

A child (taxpayer) put their hand into a pitcher full of filberts (elementary schools). They grasped as many as they could hold (5), but when they tried to pull out their hand, they were prevented from doing so by the neck of the pitcher (bank account). Unwilling to lose their filberts (elementary schools), and yet unable to withdraw their hand, the child burst into tears and bitterly lamented their disappointment. A bystander said to the child, “Be satisfied with half the quantity (elementary schools), and you will readily draw out your hand.”

Pottstown School Board/Administration Speak Out Against Thomas Hylton’s Propaganda Blitz

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County
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One can hardly pick up a print edition of the Pottstown Quicksilver these days without seeing some sort of advertorial from Pottstown Citizens For Responsible Government Treasurer and School Board Director Thomas Hylton.  Mr. Hylton has tried to sway public opinion about all things Pottstown School District for some time.

Recently, Mr. Hylton went on the attack against Pottstown Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reed Lindley, current school board directors, school board candidates and the Task Force.  Things came to a head at last Thursday’s school board meeting when Dr. Lindley, Director Polly Weand and Director Robert Hartman called Mr. Hylton on the carpet for his campaign of misinformation directed toward Dr. Lindley, fellow school board members and the Task Force.

Evan Brandt’s coverage of the meeting and the background information leading up to Mr. Hylton’s tongue-lashing by Lindley, Weand and Hartman was well documented and unbiased.  I am glad to see that Mr. Hylton’s monetary contributions to the local print newspaper are not buying him “protection” from scrutiny.  Frankly, I think today’s front page article portrays Mr. Hylton in an unfavorable yet realistic light.  It’s about time!

We still think Mr. Hylton should turn over the money from Trees Inc. to the borough. 

If Mr. Hylton truly cared about Pottstown, he would stop wasting money on ridiculous advertorials, supplements and glossy post cards and use that money for something constructive.  The tens of thousands of dollars wasted could have been used for the Community Land Trust, the PDIDA Main Street Manager program, to fund a downtown ambassador program, the Pottstown Cluster or any number of projects that would benefit the citizens of Pottstown.  Instead, this money was squandered to feed Tom’s massive ego and to advance one man’s agenda.  It was not used to make a positive difference in the community he supposedly cares so much about. 

Maybe voters should think about that when election time rolls around!

Pottstown Area Industrial Development (PAID) Meeting, Thursday, April 28th

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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If you have followed the transition of the Pottstown Area Industrial Development  (PAID) organization into the borough’s economic development engine then you should attend a public meeting at the Hill School Library, Thursday, April 28th at 6 p.m.  The new board of directors will be introduced.

This is an important vehicle that will hopefully enable Pottstown to speak with a unified voice when presenting economic development goals and strategies.  Having a consensus will help the borough receive grant money for projects.

Jason Bobst, Pottstown Borough Manager, will be the first President of the Board of Directors.  The office of president will rotate every year between the borough, the school district and the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority.

The first year is crucial because the new Executive Director will be hired.  This person will be the point of contact and run the day-to-day operations of PAID.

The ULI recommendations will be used as a blue print for economic development by PAID’s Executive Director and the Board of Directors.

Why Is It Important For Pottstown Residents To Be Informed And Proactive?

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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Code Blue is asking Pottstown Borough residents to make themselves aware of the current issues facing our borough and school district.  We here are Roy’s Rants agree!  The borough and school district occupy the same five square miles.  Therefore, it is crucial that the borough and school district work harmoniously and with the one vision for our community.  Your tax dollars support the borough government and the education of our children.

We believe the school district and borough are working more closely together.  A new spirit of cooperation is evolving since Dr. Lindley has become Superintendent of Schools.  We applaud the effort that the borough and school district are making to this end.  We encourage the borough and school district to continue working together and defining a common mission and vision to move Pottstown forward.

As a resident, the decisions that the Pottstown Borough Council and the Pottstown School Board make have a direct impact on your wallet.  Therefore, it is critical that taxpayers are educated consumers.  There are 22,377 Pottstown borough residents (2010 census).  Residents need to make fact-based decisions and not make decisions based the opinions of one or two outspoken people.

You are encouraged to attend school board and borough council meetings to gain first-hand knowledge of what goes on and see who is making decisions on your behalf and spending your money!  Knowledge is power.

Upcoming Pottstown School Board meetings are:

March 31st, April 14th, May 5th and May 19th

Upcoming Pottstown Borough Council meetings are:

April 11th and May 9th

There are some big decisions coming down the road about the number of elementary schools Pottstown really needs and can afford.  The school district is facing a large budget deficit due to funding cuts from Harrisburg and a declining tax base.  The teaching staff is without a contract and negotiations are not going well.  If you do not think these issues will impact your wallet, guess again!  If you are unhappy with your child’s education, your tax bill or have concerns with any of the issues I mentioned above, come to a school board meeting and let your feelings be known.  We elected these people into office and their job is to serve the taxpayers of this community.  They will welcome your comments.

http://www.pottstownschools.com/pottstown/Our%20District/Board%20of%20Education/Board%20Members.html/_top  Click this link to see who is on the school board if you are unsure.

The borough government is constantly grappling with decisions that affect your daily life at every meeting.  Sadly, a handful of people attend these meetings and offer little citizen advice.  Council needs to hear from the citizenry of this community.  Complaining that Pottstown sucks to everybody you know is not helpful and accomplishes little more than further damaging our community’s image to the outside world.  If you want to express your dissatisfaction about how this town is run, COME TO A COUNCIL MEETING and tell the people who can do something about it.  There are seven councilors making decisions for 22,377 people.  We voted them into office and they serve at our pleasure.  The taxpayers of this community put them in these positions.  Do you know who your councilor is?   http://www.pottstown.org/about_council.htm  Click this link to see who represents your Ward.

Do not be swayed by propaganda and skewed facts.  Make informed decisions by coming to meetings and asking questions from our elected officials.  Just because someone writes an opinion piece and publishes it in the newspaper does not mean it is 100 percent accurate.  It is an opinion.  An opinion can be defined as:  A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof. 

Knowledge is power!

Pottstown School District Administrators Agree To Pay Freeze

I am pleased to learn that Act 93 employees and PSD administrators have taken voluntary pay freezes.  The teaching staff is not part of this group.  The Pottstown Federation of Teachers is now involved in a contact dispute with the district that is not going well. 

Teachers in the Fleetwood School District (Berks County) have been asked to take voluntary pay freezes, along with the administration, which will save the Fleetwood School District $800,000. 

Teachers in the Twin Valley School District (Chester County) have been asked to take voluntary pay freezes, along with the administration, which will save the Twin Valley School District $600,000 to $700,000 a year.  The Superintendent, Dr. Robert F. Pleis has already volunteered to take a pay freeze along with his colleagues at Fleetwood and Pottstown.

We give the PSD administration two Roy’s Rants thumbs up for leading by example.

The board also voted NO on “forward borrowing”.  “Forward borrowing” would have allowed the district to borrow up to an additional $23 million, over and above the $28 million already authorized.  The $28 million was authorized for renovations at the district’s five elementary schools.  We applaud the fiscal responsibility shown by the board.  PSD already has an enormous debt from the renovations at the high school and middle school.  Taxpayers cannot afford more debt.  Any amount over $28 million will need voter approval!

Pottstown’s Community Land Trust And Community Garden

Community gardens often have several horticult...

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On December 20, 2010, the Community Land Trust (CLT) gave a presentation before a Pottstown Borough Council and Pottstown School Board joint meeting at the Pottstown Middle School.  The presentation included a PowerPoint document called “A Community Land Trust for Pottstown”, which explained what a CLT is and highlighted the many benefits it can bring to a community.  

Since December, Preservation Pottstown’s leadership has been replaced by the CLT leadership and is pursuing a Community Garden project with the Pottstown School District and Genesis Housing. The CLT received a grant commitment for capacity-building support from National Penn Bank.  Preservation Pottstown’s original mission and by-laws dovetail with the  CLT’s mission, to increase homeownership stabilize neighborhoods and engage in economic development. 

The new leadership is committed to the principles of a CLT and will be focusing on organizational issues over the next few months, including making a name change that reflects the specific vision of a land trust.  CLT founding members are Dave Garner, David Jackson, Chris Huff and Sue Repko.  The CLT is proud to have two members (Chris Huff and Andrew Kefer) serving on the Pottstown Planning Commission. 

The CLT will be assisted in its capacity-building efforts through the support of National Penn Bank. Following the December 20th presentation, the CLT was contacted by National Penn Bank, which has representation on the boards of the Lehigh Valley and State College CLTs. In addition to offering its expertise based on that experience, National Penn has given the Pottstown CLT a grant commitment so that it can hire a nationally renowned CLT consultant to jump-start the organization. The CLT is extremely grateful for their support. 

The CLT has been pursuing a Community Garden project for a vacant parcel in the 400 block of Chestnut Street. The Pottstown School District (PSD) owns the property.  The CLT will be partnering with PSD and Genesis Housing on the Community Garden project.  Genesis Housing’s landscape architect has developed the site plan.   

Community gardens involve residents in growing their own healthy food, help families cut down on grocery bills, and beautify neighborhoods. This project will also provide community service and educational opportunities for PSD students.  

The PSD Facilities Committee recommended that Dr. Reed Lindley, Superintendent of Schools, work with the PSD Solicitor to prepare an agreement for PSD School Board approval that transfers 423 Chestnut Street to the CLT for the purpose of developing a Community Garden.  The agreement is to stipulate that the property return to the PSD should it no longer be used as a Community Garden.  The vote was unanimous.

The CLT will be promoting and creating opportunities for arts/culture, green technologies, access to fresh food, healthy lifestyles and sustainability through affordable efficient housing, work spaces, and connections with neighborhood and community.

The CLT’s Community Garden Committee is headed by Washington Street Corridor resident Katy Jackson. Other members include: Judy Memberg, Andrew Monastra, Andrew Kefer, Mary-Beth Lydon, Joanne Waddell (president of the Pottstown Garden Club), and Eric Schmidt of Colonial Nurseries.

The CLT is looking for community support from Pottstown area businesses, churches and other organizations who are involved in community service.  They ask that you please consider donating, sponsorships or volunteering in-kind services. To get involved or make donations:  pottstownclt@gmail.com

Donations are tax deductible

This will be Pottstown’s first official community garden.   To learn about the benefits of a community garden:  http://www.communitygarden.org/learn/

The CLT’s website is: http://pottstownclt.wordpress.com/

Roy’s Rants fully supports the CLT and the Community Garden project as a way to revitalize the core neighborhood and improve the quality of life for all Pottstown residents.  We urge residents, businesses and organizations to get involved with the CLT, the Community Garden project and any future projects as they develop. 

Pottstown Open House Colossal Success

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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From all accounts, Saturday’s Open House exceeded everyone’s expectations.  Estimates put the crowd at between 5,000 & 6,000! That is an awesome turnout. 

Perceptions are powerful things and everyone has them.  Unfortunately, many people’s “perception” of Pottstown is not very positive.  I think this event helped “open eyes” and made people reevaluate their “perception” of our town.  Many of us already know Pottstown is a great place to live and we see Pottstown poised to become a regional destination/show place.  Sadly, many people focus on the negatives and do not accentuate the positives. 

Many thanks for everyone involved in the Open House for opening eyes and changing perceptions.  Hopefully this event instilled some civic pride that is sorely lacking in this town. 

Dr. Lindley Tapped For Top Job At PSD

In a surprise move (wink), the Pottstown School Board gave Assistant Superintendent Reed Lindley a promotion to Superintendent of Schools last night.

Have to say I saw this coming, based on different thing I picked up on, so there was no point in me attending last night’s meeting.

We certainly wish Dr. Lindley well in his new position and hope that he and the BOE can move PSD forward during these turbulent economic times.  There is much work to do and much at stake.

Good luck Dr. Lindley!