Kutztown School District Considers Closing Albany Elementary

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Image via Wikipedia

In a potential belt-tightening move, the Kutztown School Board has raised the idea of closing Albany Elementary School next year.

At a recent budget and finance committee meeting, the board directed administrators to arrange for a public meeting on the issue.

That forum will be March 6 at 7 p.m. in the Kutztown High School auditorium.

Superintendent Nicholas Lazo Jr. emphasized that the board has not made a decision to close Albany Elementary, located along Route 737 near Kempton.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=366812

He’s Back In The Saddle Again – Thomas Hylton’s Neighborhood Schools Committee Rises From The Ashes

You may remember a while back that Mr. Hylton and his Neighborhood Schools Committee (NSC) were reigned in by the board for operating outside the normal limits of a committee.  They were placed under the Facilities Committee so that decisions would be made that included the entire board, not just “selected members”.

Oh, how times have changed.  Mr. Hylton’s power grab has landed him back in the catbird seat once again.  Mr. Hylton now has a majority of five votes on the board that will predictably go his way.  The NSC is now unfettered and free to act without the pesky interference of those other four trouble makers on the board who disagree with him.

On August 8th, the NSC held an 18 minute meeting to discuss a few issues.  Chairman Dennis Wausnock and Committee members Valerie Harris and Thomas Hylton were in attendance.  Déjà vu anyone.  There were some others in attendance, members of the administration, two other board members, Crabtree and Rohrbaugh folks and a couple of spectators.  Just a cozy little group, the way Mr. Hylton likes it 🙂

Mr. Thees (a former board member) asked some pointed questions:

  1. Will the cost summary be provided to the public?
  2. Mr. Thees asked about those darned historical windows that keep popping up.
  3. Is four weeks enough time for Crabtree and Rohrbaugh to go through the list?
  4. Why is Mr. Hylton the sole representative on the board for this project?

Mrs. Weand asked Mr. Hylton if the other eight members of the board are not to be involved in the day-to-day decisions.  Mr. Hylton replied that the board decided the Neighborhood Schools Committee has been appointed to oversee the work.  Ms. Harris chimed in that every board member has a say but that Mr. Hylton is the point person for the day-to-day dealings.   (The answer to Mrs. Weand’s question is a resounding NO!).

So Crabtree and Rohrbaugh have four weeks to provide a timeline to the NSC on the completion of renovations to Pottstown’s five elementary schools.  Of course, this motion passed with three yes votes.

Another motion was passed to authorize the preliminary work necessary to issue the $15 million bond ASAP.

Of course, the NSC voted to make Mr. Hylton the sole point of day-to-day contact between the PSD administration, Crabtree and Rohrbaugh, Stephen Kalis and others involved in the upgrade of our five elementary schools.

A motion was made and passed to develop a contingency plan for emergency student housing if the construction takes longer than anticipated.  (We can only imagine what this will entail!)

Eighteen minutes later, Mr. Hylton made the motion to adjourn.

Future meetings will be on an “as needed basis”.  (Sounds like the Shade Tree Commission)

If this doesn’t raise a few eyebrows then I am not sure what will.  Mr. Hylton has made himself Elementary Emperor.  He will be the only board member involved in this process and has effectively shut out the other seven elected school board directors from the day-to-day process of spending $15 million dollars to “band aid” five school buildings.

Does this seem unusual to anyone else?

You know those historical windows will end up in Rupert.  What you don’t know is that those windows will enrich the quality of education in the Pottstown School District tremendously.  Why I bet they will even make test scores in the high school go up to meet the state required levels.  The sense of pride in those historical windows will inspire our students to greatness.

Just another day in Pottstown.

Evidently Stupid Is As Stupid Does In Pottstown

Despite the enormous amount of time and effort put forth by the Task Force and the cross-section of people who were involved in the process; the Pottstown Hyltonville School District Board of Education has voted to maintain five old elementary school buildings in light of the fact that:  a. Hyltonville cannot afford them and b. in the long run taxes will increase more by doing nothing.

Great job!  Not!

Many thanks to the Task Force for their hard work and many thanks to the four forward-thinking school board directors (Huss, Hartman, Pargeon, Weand) who voted NO to this giant step backward.  Watch how many homes go up for sale now!

Please keep in mind the five school board directors (Harris, Hylton, Wausnock, White, Wilson) who voted for this stick your head in the sand “plan” so when your taxes spiral even further out of control you’ll remember who to blame!  In case you forget, I’ll remind you when the times comes.

Two gigantic Roy’s Rants thumbs down and a cyber raspberry.

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.

Lincoln Elementary School Second Graders Learn About Pottstown

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

It is always great to read stories like this.  Some of Pottstown’s second grade students learned about two import resources in their town – the Pottstown Regional Public Library (PRPL) and the Gallery School on High.  Both businesses are found on Pottstown’s main street, a few blocks apart, and both businesses can help Pottstown’s children learn and succeed.

Three teachers from Lincoln Elementary School Jill Bolonski, Heather Kurtz and Leslie Swartz took their students on an all day field trip to the PRPL and the Gallery School.  To read about what all the students did, click here:

http://pottstownschools.com/pottstown/In%20the%20Spotlight/LINCOLN%20ELEMENTARY%20STUDENTS%20EXPLORE%20%93IN%20TOWN%20CLASSROOM%94/

Two Roy’s Rants thumbs up to those awesome teachers at Lincoln!

Two Roy’s Rants thumbs up to the Pottstown Regional Public Library and the Gallery School for being incredibly welcoming and tremendous educational assets in Pottstown.

Links to the PRPL and Gallery School are found on the homepage of this blog under the category Important Pottstown Sites on the right side of your screen.

Two More Top Notch Pottstown School District Employees Leaving

The local print newspaper announced today that two elementary principals are leaving PSD.  The revolving door out of Pottstown continues. 

Dr. Angela Tuck (Edgewood) and Robert Giering (Barth) have taken positions at two distinguished elementary schools.  Both schools have received a 10 out of 10 rating from Great Schools.org.  Dr. Tuck is bound for Swarthmore Rutledge School in Delaware County and Robert Giering is joining the Downingtown School District at Uwchlan Hills Elementary School.  Both Tuck and Giering will be principals at their new schools.

Dr. Tuck has been with PSD for 10 years.  Giering has been with PSD for 6 ½ years.

The school district and Task Force are in turmoil; no thanks to Mr. Hylton’s constant meddling.  People are not going to stick around PSD to end up out of a job.  Especially high-caliber employees like Terri Lampe, Angela Tuck and Robert Giering.  These people have marketable skills as shown by their rapid departures.

These headlines will be repeated over and over.  The longer this climate of uncertainty continues the more people will leave.  If Team Hylton wins in November, the end draws nigh.

Wilkes-Barre Area School District Has As Many Elementary Schools As Pottstown

Here is another example that demonstrates Pottstown School District has too many elementary schools.  Wilkes-Barre Area School District has 9 schools.  Five elementary schools, one junior high and three high schools.  The enrollment for Wilkes-Barre Area is approximately 6700 students or about twice as many as Pottstown.  Very similar to Norristown Area School District, which I profiled the other day.

Elementary schools are K – 6th grades.

The Solomon/Plains Junior High School is 7th & 8th grades only. 

There are three high schools.  It was just announced that Wilkes-Barre Area is looking at possibily closing one of the three high schools (Meyers High School which has the lowest student population of the three with 840 students in grades 9 – 12 is being studied for closure).

The Wilkes-Barre Area School District encompasses 123 square miles and only has five elementary schools.  I would think a borough of 5 square miles, with half  of the student population of Wilkes-Barre Area, could easily get away with three elementary schools.

District data from Wikipedia and GreatSchools.org

Pottstown Citizens For Responsible Government…OH PLEASE, GIVE ME A BREAK!

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

Looks like Thomas “Spin” Hylton is at it again with his glossy mailers spewing forth misinformation and using scare tactics on Pottstown voters.  Negative campaigning is just that Tom, NEGATIVE!  It tends to backfire.  But since you started it and I am not running for office:

Mr. Hylton wanted to waste $15 million taxpayer dollars on pretty windows and geothermal heating for five elementary schools that we absolutely DO NOT NEED!

Mr. Hylton advocates keeping all five elementary schools open that we do not need and cannot afford. 

Mr. Hylton wanted to build a SIXTH elementary school in the core neighborhood.

Mr. Hylton was a total bully on the Shade Tree Commission and treated Pottstown taxpayers like dirt!  He is still holding onto thousands of dollars under Trees, Inc.  For what purpose since the borough is handling trees now?????  GIVE THE MONEY BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who are you to call other people “big spenders” that we cannot afford when you are head of the class!  Make me LOL!

Mr. Hylton you give Republicans a bad name!  Please take me off your mailing list(s) as your junk mail is cluttering up my mailbox!  Go pedal your half-truths somewhere else.

Pottstown taxpayers, do not be fooled by the man behind the curtain.  Citizens for Responsible Government is a misnomer!  Mr. Hylton is not advocating responsible government.  Mr. Hylton is advocating a self-serving government.  There is a BIG difference.  We do not need or want one person thinking they are in charge of Pottstown Borough and Pottstown School District.  This is a democracy!

Vote for Friends of Pottstown Public Education on May 17th and stop the madness!