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

Pottstown Council, School Board Want To Work Closer

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  Two Roy’s Rants thumbs up to Acting Superintendent Jeff Sparagana for being proactive!

POTTSTOWN — When it comes to getting along, it could be said that the borough and school district governments in Pottstown sometimes get along like siblings on a long car trip.

Acting Schools Superintendent Jeff Sparagana is among the first to admit that and did so Wednesday when he told borough council that “it is important to acknowledge and recognize there have been breakdowns in the relationship between the borough and the school district in the past.”

But he was also the first to offer an olive branch in pursuit of a new era of cooperation.

Appearing before council during the Wednesday work session, Sparagana prefaced a presentation of the district’s land development plans for Rupert, Franklin and Lincoln elementary schools with a statement — and an apology.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121209/NEWS01/121209423/pottstown-council-school-board-want-to-work-closer#full_story

Thomas Hylton Mentioned In Morning Call Article About Bethlehem School District Building Project

Editor’s note:  This is priceless!!! 

…By sticking to Roy’s timeline, the district will not invite a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and historic preservation advocate, Thomas Hylton, to tour Nitschmann as south Bethlehem resident Stephen Antalics had requested.

Board President Michael Faccinetto said Hylton, who had argued in a recent Morning Call editorial for the cheapest possible renovation of Nitschmann, could present his views at a public meeting.  But Faccinetto said the district would not allow Hylton a private tour of Nitschmann as he had gotten at Broughal before the building was torn down to make room for the new school and its athletic fields.

“The last time he came here, he billed the district $5,000 for his services,” Faccinetto said.

On Nov. 20, Hylton, a member of the Pottstown School Board and president of the nonprofit group Save Our Land, Save Our Towns, said he never offered to tour Nitschmann.  He said he did not know his name was being bantered around the district.

“All I ever did was write the piece in the op-ed,” Hylton said…

Read the whole story here:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/bethlehem/mc-bethlehem-nitschmann-broughal-20121126,0,5200349.story

Property Taxes Are Killing Pottstown

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  This is a well-written opinion piece from the Fishwrap that was sent to Governor Corbett and other state and local officials.  Sums up the state of Pottstown pretty well.

An open letter sent to Gov. Corbett and copied to state Rep. Thomas Quigley and Pottstown Mayor Bonnie Heath.

Gov. Corbett:

There’s a lovely stone house for sale on High Street in Pottstown.  Yes, it’s our house.  It’s reasonably priced and has piqued the curiosity of many prospective buyers but one item makes them turn and run.  “What is so frightening?” you ask.  It’s the property taxes!  Over $7,500 per year on a house assessed at $150,000.  That’s outrageous!  We have friends in other Montgomery County communities such as Springfield Township, Abington and Upper Dublin.  Their houses are assessed higher than ours but, in some cases, they pay less than half our taxes.  There is something drastically wrong with this scenario.  Pottstown ranks seventh in school taxes out of 500 Pennsylvania districts.  We also rank at the top for producing underachieving students.  We have 13.4 percent of our residents over 65, an inordinate number of Section 8 and transient residents in this blue-collar town, and high unemployment.  Property values are spiraling downward, creating a dismal sinking into the quicksand of urban destruction.

Our delusional council and school board keep raising taxes as though we were a booming town but we’ve lost our industrial base that employed hundreds at Bethlehem Steel, Firestone, Mrs. Smith’s Pies and other long-gone businesses.  Sadly, we’ve also had to say good-bye to our wonderful Pottstown Symphony.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120928/OPINION02/120929459/property-taxes-are-killing-pottstown

Superintendent’s Resignation Stuns Pottstown School Board

Editor’s note:  I am unfortunately not surprised by this.  I am guessing this is just another person who is tired of banging his/her head against “the proverbial wall” trying to make things better for Pottstown.  The assembly flap might have been the last straw but there is more to this than just one incident. 

Maybe it’s the constant barrage of criticism being lobbed by the Fishwrap at community leaders that helps push them out of town.  People like Jason Bobst and Reed Lindley always have other options.  After a while, no matter how good someone’s intentions are, people reach a saturation point and “walk away” to save what’s left of their sanity.

It’s a vicious cycle in Pottstown.  My condolences to the new Borough Manager and Superintendent of Schools.

POTTSTOWN, PA — Reed Lindley stunned the school board and the community Thursday night by resigning as superintendent, effective immediately.

Lindley, who was not present for the regular board meeting, submitted his letter of resignation to the board, citing only “personal reasons” for his decision.

Following a 30-minute, closed-door executive session at the opening of the meeting, a somber-faced school board returned to the meeting room and unanimously accepted his resignation.

The resignation comes on the heels of community outrage over a three-hour assembly at Pottstown High School in which a speaker extolling the virtues of entrepreneurship also challenged students to sell coffee to compete for an iPad.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120921/NEWS01/120929898/reed-lindley-resigns-as-pottstown-schools-superintendent&pager=full_story

Pottstown School Board Rejects Second Look At School Project Plans

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN — With a 7-3 vote Thursday night, the school board rejected a proposal to suspend work on designing additions to three elementary schools to allow the potential to save as much as $6.5 million to be explored.

The proposal, made by school board member Thomas Hylton, sought to take advantage of a recent change in long-standing state policy that was made with the passage of the most recent budget in Harrisburg.

Throughout the many years of discussion on the elementary school project, it has been state policy that it will not provide reimbursement to any school construction project that does not eliminate the use of modular classrooms.

The need to meet this requirement is among those driving the decision to add between 12 to 14 classrooms in additions to Rupert, Lincoln and Franklin elementary schools, which is where the $24 million project now stands.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120803/NEWS01/120809803/pottstown-school-board-rejects-second-look-at-school-project-plans&pager=full_story

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 School Board Reorganization Holds Promise Of Positive Change

Last night the Friends of Pottstown Public Education candidates Judyth Zahora, Mary-Beth Lydon and Andrew Kefer took their places as members of the Pottstown School Board.  The three candidates were able to win school director seats in the November election, despite Mr. Hylton’s attempts to sway the voting public with his high-gloss, smear-tactic postcards.  Pottstown voters were not taken in a second time by the eleventh hour negative campaigning waged by Tartan Tom’s political action committee, Citizens For Responsible Government.  Citizens For Responsible Government is run out of Mr. Hylton’s Chestnut Street home aka Mount Olympus.

It would seem Pottstown is getting tired of Mr. Hylton’s meddling in our affairs.  The borough was the first group to untangle themselves from Mr. Hylton’s death-grip involvement by making the Shade Tree Commission obsolete and taking control of Pottstown’s shade trees.  Mr. Hylton also lost his support and was not returned to the Planning Commission after twelve disastrous years which brought us revolutionary concepts like back-in angle parking.

Now it would seem Mr. Hylton’s grip on the school board has been pried loose by the election of the Friends of Pottstown Public Education block of candidates.  Last night, Judyth Zahora was elected President of the Pottstown School Board.  Mrs. Zahora is not unfamiliar with this role as she was President before.  Robert Hartman was sworn in as Vice-President.  While Mr. Hartman was not a Friends of Pottstown Public Education candidate, his actions show he is very much like-minded.

Now that sanity has been restored to the school board and Mr. Hylton has been neutralized, we can look forward to fiscally responsible decisions being made.  We can also look forward to transparency and accountability being returned with the dissolving of the Neighborhood Schools Committee, Mr. Hylton being removed as sole “liaison” on the $15 million renovation project and the mandatory use of school district email to conduct business!  No more “secret” conversations between select school board members or the board being controlled by one person.  We elect nine people for a reason! The job is too large for any one person, even if they are a god-like being of superior intelligence, with a penchant for plaid.

We congratulate Mrs. Zahora and Mr. Hartman.  We wish them much success, along with the other new members of the school board.  The task is daunting, but we voted you into these positions because we have faith and confidence you will make the best decisions for the education of our children and the fiscal health of our school district and borough.

Friends Of Pottstown Public Education Candidates Win School Director Seats

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

We would like to extend our most sincere congratulations to Judyth Zahora, Andrew Kefer and Mary-Beth Lydon for each winning a seat on the Pottstown School Board!  The Friends of Pottstown Public Education candidates ran as a block and they will help return the voice of reason to the Pottstown School Board.  

Judy, Mary-Beth and Andrew will join Robert Hartman and Polly Weand in keeping Mr. Hylton’s ego and spending in check!  Had Mr. Hylton’s hand-picked candidates won, it would have given Mr. Hylton carte blanche on the renovations, which Pottstown taxpayers cannot afford!

Many thanks to the Pottstown voters who turned out today and exercised their right to vote in a free election, as guaranteed by our constitution.

Pottstown’s East End Plastered With Illegal Flyers!

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

Our good friends over at Save Pottstown!! have brought a recent epidemic to light that we feel is important information for the taxpayers and law-abiding citizens of Pottstown to be made aware of.  The problem is an over-zealous 6th Ward resident(s) has plastered Save Rupert flyers on any stationary object they can find.

Save Pottstown’s research found that posting these flyers is illegal in the Borough of Pottstown.  Secondly, these flyers also include Franklin School on them.  However, as Save Pottstown discovered, these flyers are thankfully NOT in the North End.  I live near Franklin School and have not seen any and please don’t pollute our neighborhood with them.

The hysteria and inability to make a rational decision about keeping 5 old school buildings is beyond comprehension.  People are not moving to Pottstown in droves because of neighborhood schools.  Instead, they move to other school districts all around Pottstown with more modern facilities.  Mr. Hylton’s own “figures” show that PSD enrollment is down and staff is up so why is he so hell-bent on keeping all these old buildings?  The mother of all $64,000 questions!

To read Save Pottstown’s excellent analysis, click here:

http://savepottstown.com/lang/es/2011/07/crime-wave-hits-the-east-end/

Pottstown Pennsylvania – The Land That Time Forgot

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

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.”

WWE SmackDown At Pottstown School Board Meeting

Hulk Hogan hitting his infamous Leg Drop on Vi...

Image via Wikipedia

It was another bad night for Pottstown School Board Director Thomas Hylton on Thursday evening.  Mr. Hylton was “called out” by Jeff Leflar for improper conduct, unbecoming of a School Board Director, as a result of Mr. Hylton’s constant attempts to undermine the will of the school board.  Mr. Leflar gave some examples of Mr. Hylton’s “hijinx” during his tenure as a School Board Director. (HINT:  Neighborhood School’s debacle, for starters)

Mr. Leflar quoted Pennsylvania State School Law, Section 406, which states:

The board of school directors in any school district in this Commonwealth, except as herein and employees, otherwise provided, shall after due notice, giving the reasons therefore, and after hearing if demanded, have the right at any time to remove any of its officers, employees, or appointees for incompetency, intemperance, neglect of duty, violation of any of the school laws of this Commonwealth, or other improper conduct.

Mr. Leflar, representing Code Blue, called for the school board to enforce Section 406 and by simple majority vote, to remove Thomas Hylton from the Pottstown School Board for improper conduct, specifically undermining the will and work of the task force appointed by President Huss.

Look for a flurry of advertorials from Mr. Hylton in the Mercury during the coming days to combat Mr. Leflar’s “leg drop”.

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

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

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!