POTTSTOWN — As recently as Aug. 14, Pottstown School Board members were assured by district administrators and construction consultants that renovation and expansion of Rupert Elementary School was on schedule for the opening of school on Sept. 2.
But just four days later, the administration announced that the school would not be ready on timeand students and staff would begin school in the former Edgewood Elementary School at 920 Morris St.
Three days after that announcement, frustrated school board members levied criticism at both the planning and execution of the project.
“To say I am disappointed in the efforts of the contractor is an understatement,” board member Ron Williams said.
Editor’s note: Many thanks to Tom Hylton for another boondoggle.
POTTSTOWN — When the newly renovated elementary schools open for the first day of school Sept. 2, Rupert Elementary School will not be one of them.
In a letter sent home to parents Monday afternoon, Superintendent Jeff Sparagana said the Rupert school year will begin in the same place it was held last school year, the former Edgewood Elementary School at 920 Morris St.
“We will keep you apprised of the progress as the Rupert School renovation comes to conclusion and notify you in advance of the plan for the return to 1230 South St.,” Sparagana wrote to parents.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this communication causes as we look forward to a great school year with the anticipation of moving back to the newly renovated Rupert School,” Sparagana wrote.
POTTSTOWN — As the Pottstown school board prepares to borrow the second $10 million needed for the renovation and expansion of its elementary schools, it is doing so in the face of $2 million or more in change orders and additional costs.
As The Mercury reported in May, the renovation work on Barth Elementary School was well underway when the school board was told the cost of a new roof was not included in the project — an additional cost estimated at another $665,000.
In August, The Mercury reported that wiring for new computer and data systems were not included in the bid for the renovation of Franklin, Lincoln and Rupert elementary schools — an additional cost of an estimated $375,000.
On Thursday night the full board was informed that the cost for additional electrical outlets, boxes, panel boards and the replacement of old wiring at the three schools has added another $388,601 to the price of the projects.
POTTSTOWN, PA — With the remaining construction now underway at three elementary schools, the Pottstown School Board is expected to vote at Monday night’s meeting to borrow another $10 million to pay for the project.
The board is expected to authorize the preparation of the bond documents at Monday’s meeting and the auction will occur on Oct. 21, said board member Dennis Wausnock, chairman of the school board’s finance committee.
Work on Franklin, Lincoln and Rupert elementary schools began in May and continues with students back in Lincoln and Franklin and the population of Rupert being taught in the vacant Edgewood Elementary building, which was officially closed in June.
Barth Elementary School, which was officially re-dedicated in a ceremony Saturday, was the first school to be renovated although, unlike the other three, it was not expanded.
POTTSTOWN — You can add new data system wiring to the things not included in the $14 million price tag for renovation and expansion of three elementary schools in the borough.
Thursday night, school board Vice President Robert Hartman Jr., who is also the chairman of the board’s facilities committee, reported that his committee is recommending the additional spending of as much as $375,000 “for data wiring devices installation at Franklin, Lincoln and Rupert elementary schools” according to the agenda of Thursday’s meeting.
There was no discussion among the full board, or questions asked by any of the board members, so it was not immediately clear why this was not included in the budget for the broader expansion/renovation project.
Work began this summer on the renovations and expansion at the three schools, while work is now being completed at Barth Elementary School, where work began a year earlier.
POTTSTOWN — In advance of tonight’s school board meeting, at which the proposed four new elementary school attendance zones will be discussed, Superintendent Jeff Sparagana has agreed to The Mercury’s request to make them public for inspection.
The meeting will be held in the Pottstown High School cafeteria and begins at 7:30 p.m.
Sparagana said the information was released to give parents and residents an opportunity to look at and digest some of the basic information prior to tonight’s presentation.
Attached to this article, readers should find a map of the current five-school configuration, a map showing the borders of the four new attendance areas, as well as close-up maps of all four attendance areas.
The TriCounty Community Network (TCN) Build Up Youth Committee will be hosting a meeting on “School Emergencies: Prevention, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery”. In the wake of recent tragedies, the speaker, Matthew Moyer, principal at Rupert Elementary School will talk about how the TriCounty community can help our schools protect our children.
State Rep. Mark Painter will also be at the event and will speak to the attendees.
Tuesday, February 19, 8am – 10am
Montgomery County Community College, West Campus
Community Room, 101 College Drive, Pottstown
Breakfast Sponsor: Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania
Click here to register or call TCN at 610-705-3301 ext. 2.
TCN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, membership-based organization that partners with nonprofits, businesses and community members to improve health, social and environmental conditions. Serving Western Montgomery, Northern Chester and Eastern Berks counties in Pennsylvania, TCN offers six key programs: Build Up Youth, CARE (caregivers support), Environmental Awareness, Homeless Services, SAFE (Supporting Abuse Free Environments), and Workforce Development. For more information on TCN, visit www.tcnetwork.org.
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.
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:
- Will the cost summary be provided to the public?
- Mr. Thees asked about those darned historical windows that keep popping up.
- Is four weeks enough time for Crabtree and Rohrbaugh to go through the list?
- 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.
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:
Honestly, this is so played out I am sick of writing about it!
a. We do not need these damn windows!
b. We can not afford these damn windows!
c. The bobble-heads dolls are at it again.
d. Where does a retired Mercury employee come up with this kind of money?
e. What does Tom Hylton get out of all this? A book deal, a PBS special??? There is more to this than meets the eye. This is NOT an act of charity! There are always strings attached…
f. There are certainly far better things for our school board to concentrate on than this madness. This side-show is becoming an all-consuming topic that has side tracked sensible issues.
This topic has plucked my last good nerve. If this goes through there needs to be a public revolt. Some of these people need thrown off the school board and replaced with individuals who possess common sense.
This is sheer madness and reckless spending of public funds!!!!!
Tom is sure keeping me busy this week. I read in today’s Pottstown Mercury that our tree hugging school board member is making secret visits to elementary schools without advising the rest of the school board.
I am starting to wonder if Tom has a learning disability because he never benefits from his previous mistakes. Most people stop repeating bad behavior that continually gets them in hot water.
There is a reason we have a set number of people on the school board i.e more than two. You should be working as a group and everyone should always know what’s going on. It is called communication. People who lurk in the shadows and seek to hide their activities are a huge blip on my radar.
Again, Tom needs to learn to work and play well with others.
Valerie, you should really distance yourself from this person before you get the same reputation. Whether this visit was intentionally mutually exclusive or if it was just a “slip up” doesn’t matter. The public perception of this kind of activity is very negative and arouses suspicion. I would hate to see you labeled as a Hyltonite.
The problem here is not that Polly Weand and others got their information from SavePottstown!. The problem is, this visit should have been discussed at a board meeting and all the members should have been informed it was a. talking place and b. asked if they cared to attend. Board members should never have to find out about official business transpiring from a source outside of a meeting. This is just WRONG!