How Many Elementary Schools Does Pottstown Need? School Board To Vote On Thursday!

If you have followed events over the last year, you know that a crucial vote is coming up this Thursday.  The Pottstown School Board will be voting on which Task Force option to go with.  Mr. Hylton of course favors the five school plan because he mistakenly thinks that people are moving to Pottstown because we have “walkable” elementary schools.  In fact, people don’t move to Pottstown because of the school system.

The Task Force labored for a year to come up with a plan.  Naturally, Mr. Hylton is against their recommendations because Mr. Hylton’s brain contains more intelligence than the sum total of the other 22,376 residents of Pottstown combined.  If you don’t believe me, just ask him.  This vast reservoir of knowledge brought us back-in angle parking on High Street  This bone-headed concept has had a negative impact on our central business district.  If you don’t think so, drive down High Street aka Desolation Boulevard.  Many people refuse to park on High Street because of the back-in parking.  It is very unpopular (much like the purple lights),

I received permission to repost the comment below from the author. The writer explains why Mr. Hylton’s “logic” on keeping five elementary schools is a negative and in the long run far more costly than reducing to three elementary schools, as recommended by the Task Force.  The comment was in response to this SavePottstown!! post.  I urge you to read and carefully consider this information!

Without further adieu I give you Even Keel’s words of wisdom:

Even Keel

It amazes me that some school board members will make this decision based on buildings. Buildings! Not tax savings, not a better educational product, not improved efficiency, but buildings.

IMHO, the two biggest questions to ask and base a decision from are:

1) What are the future costs to the town in tax dollars? What plan saves us the most future tax dollars?

2) What plan provides for the most efficient, effective educational product for the children?

So I’ll take a stab at your question, readytomove, because my belief is that the recommended 3 school, PK – 5 plan accomplishes the best long-term savings.

While the 3 school plan is 33 million, there is a significant PDE reimbursement so that 33 quickly becomes 24. Let’s figure in a more than generous cost overrun, just for arguments sake, and make it 26 mil for total construction costs of the 3 school plan.

The 5 school maintenance plan has been estimated (estimated, because there are still some figures which aren’t known) as a 13-15 million dollar plan. There is no PDE reimbursement with this (and quite possibly a higher cost of financing.) Let’s add in that same cost overrun and put it at 17 mil for the upgrade costs of the 5 school maintenance plan.

That leaves a high estimate of an upfront 9 million dollar difference between the two plans.

Now, let’s look at the savings. With the 3 school plan, the savings in staff reductions is $750,000 in the first year. That cost was generated using this current year’s salary/benefit numbers. This savings would actually increase each consecutive year (compounding) as teacher salaries/benefits costs are always increasing, which we’re all painfully aware of.

Operating and utility cost savings for the 3 school plan would equal $135,000 the first year. (This figure does not take into account the efficiency savings of improved lighting, newer efficient HVAC systems, etc.) Again, this was calculated using this year’s utility and operating costs and as they also go up every year, this savings would increase each consecutive year.

So, in the first year alone the 3 school plan saves $885,000 in staff, operating and utility reductions and that number actually increases in every consecutive future year. But wait, there’s more! The Plan-Con financing for the 3 school plan may yield a much better rate of financing. With current cap rates, it is very feasible it could be as much as 2% or more. There is a small savings to be had there.

All totaled, the per annual savings of the 3 school plan would be very close to a million dollars. It would therefore take approx. less than 9 years to make up the savings of expending the additional 9 million dollars up front, right now for the 3 school plan. (Coincidentally, 9 years from now is when the highest debt burden of the PERS fiasco will be upon us. Seems to me we would want to be saving the most money possibly come that point in time to keep the tax burden lower than it needs to be.)

To be fair, the 5 school maintenance plan does provide savings, but nowhere near to these levels. The utility savings for the geo-thermal payoff alone are longer than 9 years. And I’ll throw it out there – Mr. Hylton loves to say that his plan would keep these buildings open for 20+ more years but not Crabtree Rohrbaugh or any structural engineer has yet to professionally opine that sentiment.

Look at all the improvements you’re getting with the 3 school plan that you aren’t with the other: ADA compliance, multi-purpose rooms to accommodate PE and lunch, Pre-K rooms for a max of 20 students, classrooms for a max of 25 (classroom max is higher with the other plan), decent library, art, music and computer rooms. All of these things for lesser future tax dollars than keeping the current status quo.

Mr. Hylton loves to dangle the fact that Pottstown is the 7th highest taxed district in the State. His plan of “light maintenance” on 5 schools does nothing to help that figure. It is a band-aid for a system that has failed us when what we need is a shift towards a more efficient system. The 3 school plan gives us an opportunity to realize better efficiency in schools that attract people and includes significant future cost reductions.

We may never see taxes go down, but we can make the right choices to slow their impending rise in the future.

A wise Superintendent recently said, “It takes courageous leadership from individuals in the community as well as those in official positions of leadership to focus on the issues that continually keep this community from reaching its potential.”

Truer words were never spoken.

Borders Going Out Of Business!!!!

Borders' current flagship store in Downtown An...

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The long decline of bookseller Borders Group is finally coming to an end.  It was announced Monday, July 18th, that the chain’s remaining 400 stores will all close and nearly 11,000 employees will lose their jobs.

The sale of Borders to Najafi Companies fell through after creditors objected to part of the $435 million deal.  Books-A-Million, the nation’s third-largest book retailer, may be interested in purchasing a few of the locations (30).

Borders was the second-largest bookstore chain in the U.S.

Archdiocese Of Philadelphia In National Spotlight

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys

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The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is making the national news as of late but unfortunately it is not for something wonderful.  Instead the archdiocese has been in the spotlight for its handling of sexual abuse cases involving its priests.  It is believed that Pope Benedict will now accept Cardinal Rigali’s resignation (he turned 75 last year) in light of the scandal rocking the archdiocese in which Rigali’s leadership has come under heavy fire.  Rigali has been the head of the Philadelphia archdiocese since 2003.

The leading contender to replace Cardinal Rigali is Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, the first Native American to serve as the bishop (Ordinary) of a diocese in the Roman Catholic Church.  Chaput is considered to be a conservative who follows church teachings and at one time was a Capuchin monk.  This leadership change will be officially announced in the very near future.