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.

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!

Huss vs Hylton. Smackdown At The School Board Meeting

A source, who attended last night’s Pottstown school board meeting, tells me that congratulations are again in order for Pottstown School Board President Rick Huss.  Evidently Mr. Huss gave Mr. Hylton a piece of his mind, once again.

Mr. Hylton tried to present a proposal to eliminate the modular classrooms but he did not go through the Facilities Committee.  Some people just don’t get it.  There are rules for school board member, like any another group.  Everyone, including Tom Hylton, is expected to follow protocols and procedures.  Otherwise, we descend into anarchy.  Circumventing the committee you report to, public grandstanding at meetings and those ridiculous “infomericals” in the Mercury are out-of-order!

Mr. Hylton evidently pulled a fast one at the last President’s Task Force meeting and requested to speak as a patron, going behind Rick’s back to do so.  Being a school board member trumps being John Q. Pottstonian.  As a school board member, Mr. Hylton should not have taken time away from the patrons to speak.  School board members are there to listen only. 

It is a shame that Mr. Hylton feels his mandate from voters is make a mockery of the Pottstown School Board.

Kudos to Mr. Huss!

10 demerits to Mr. Hylton!

I am still waiting for someone to make my motion or, at the very least, formally censure Mr. Hylton for constantly breaking the rules.

Tom Hylton…..Ad nauseam

Seriously Rick, you need to reign in Hylton.  It should be forbidden for a school board member to arbitrarily post their “editorials” and “plans”  in the Mercury, independent of the rest of the school board.  The board is a unit, Tom is a cog.  The board needs to make statements from the board as a whole. 

Y’all need to pass a rule that stops this nonsense.  I make a motion that forbids school board members from putting ads in the Mercury advertising their position on the issues!  Who will second it?!?

Read Tom’s latest antics here: http://savepottstown.com/2010/06/%e2%80%9cfed-up-with-tom%e2%80%9d/

Pottstown School Board Meeting

Last night I attended the Pottstown School Board meeting to bring you the latest news about our school district.  While there were no fireworks like the last meeting, a number of things were brought to light that are worth mentioning.

Tri-County Area Federal Credit Union presented a check to the Pottstown football program.  It’s always gratifying to see local business and industry support our community.  Paying it forward benefits everyone!

The spotlight was on Edgewood Elementary School last night.  We were treated to a very nice 6 minute media presentation featuring students from Edgewood giving us a tour of the building.  We were then treated to the writing award presentations, which are always awesome.  Dr. Tuck was beaming with pride 🙂

Mr. Doug O’Dell and Mr. David Leinbach made a presentation to the board about the new economic development entity being created to facilitate the revitalization of Pottstown.  Pottstown Area Industrial Development Corp. (PAID) is being restructured to become the single point of contact for the outside world.  It is imperative for Pottstown to present a unified vision in order to move forward.  Federal, state and local governments are looking for a strong consensus before handing over money.  This has been sorely lacking where Pottstown has been concerned, until recently.  The model for this new entity is based on what was done in Johnstown, PA and has been very successful.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnstown,_Pennsylvania

The final draft of the memorandum of understanding was handed out to board members last night.  They will have until the next meeting to read over the document and ask questions before voting to accept at the next meeting.  Pottstown Borough Council unanimously voted to adopt the memorandum of understanding and move forward.  There was a good showing of borough officials at the meeting. 

Mr. O’Dell pointed out that this entity is not trying to usurp authority from borough council; the school board etc… but will act as a clearing house to vet projects.  Each participating group will have representation.  The representatives will carry information to and from their respective groups.  Each group will decide if they will support any proposed projects.

A search for the new Executive Director will focus on candidates with regional or national credentials from outside the Pottstown area.  This person will not be entrenched in local politics and hopefully bring new “outside the box” ideas which are desperately needed.  PAID has $400,000 which will be used as seed money to pay the new director and cover any other associated start-up costs.  PAID was chosen because it has a special tax status 501C3, which is not being given out anymore.  This status enables PAID to collect public and private funds at the same time.  This is extremely advantageous in raising money.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/501(c)

The target date to have a new Executive Director in place is 2011.  This allows the remainder of 2010 to be used for the hiring process and further planning and development.

It is beyond obvious what Pottstown’s problems are.  We need economic development yesterday.  Politics will be put aside so that PAID can focus on large (regional) and small (local) projects.  One example of a regional project is the restoration of passenger rail service to Pottstown.  Mr. O’Dell feels this is still attainable and could be a reality by 2013/2014.

Editor’s note:  I can not emphasize enough the importance of everyone getting onboard.  Pottstown’s future hangs in the balance.  We can not continue to operate with the “business as usual” mentality that has landed us in the mess we find ourselves.  Things must change.  If that means for the greater good some people may gain or lose power, so be it.  What we have been doing is not working.  Unless we come together now, put agendas and politics aside and do what is right for Pottstown, the future is abysmal!

Patrons were then allowed to make comments to the board.

Phil Thees cautioned the board to be very careful in regards to PAID.  He is concerned that the board may lose their authority to run the school district.  Editor’s note: see above paragraph!  Mr. Thees also commented on the pension debacle and suggested that school districts ban together with a class action lawsuit against Harrisburg.

Jeff Leflar made a very good point about uncollected property taxes.  For the years 2004-2008 there are still $1.3 million dollars worth of uncollected property tax.  Basically a handful of absentee landlords are not paying their taxes on rental properties.  He asked about property tax foreclosure as a means of collection.

Rob Morgan spoke about uncontested property reassessment and that the board should be more active in trying to put a halt to this practice. 

Linda Adams stated she recently met with the borough and they are working jointly on these property tax issues.

Mrs. Zahora asked about the Superintendent search.  Mr. Huss informed her that the board was going into Executive session right after the meeting to discuss this issue.

A discussion followed about property taxes.  Mr. Hartman asked Mr. Kalis if we could pick and choose who to go after regarding unpaid property taxes i.e. not targeting people with legitimate problems but working on collecting taxes from the handful of absentee landlords.  Mr. Kalis stated we can not pick and choose who to go after.  Portnoff Law Associates has a 94% collection rate.  80% of the taxes are paid during the discount period.  Portnoff Assoc. could provide more specific information as to what means they are taking to collect from the absentee landlords.  It was suggested possibly looking at occupancy permits as a means of collection.  If the taxes are not paid, a dwelling could not be rented.  Evidently the school district does not have the power to enforce these means of collection.  Mrs. Pargeon asked who has the power.  The borough, the county etc…

Mr. Huss revealed his choice to head to Task Force.  Mr. James Bush, retired Business Manager of the Pottstown School District has accepted “the call” from Mr. Huss.  This choice seemed to please many as Mr. Bush is a highly regarded member of the Pottstown community and is considered to be impartial. 

Dr. Sparagana revealed that Mr. Krem’s resignation is now official.

Mrs. Adams revealed that the pension crisis in Harrisburg will cost Pottstown taxpayers an additional $6 million dollars, at the current level, by the 2014/2015 school year.  Mrs. Adams stated the financial audit results were received and PSD had a clean audit.  There were no findings.  PSD received a grant for 21st Century for $135,000.

Many people thanked Mr. Krem for his service to the Pottstown School District and wished him well in Wyomissing.