Note: Sorry to be kind of quiet lately. I’ve been “snowed under” with school work. Should be coming up for air again in a couple of days! SR
Last spring School Board President Rick Huss announced the formation of the Board President’s Task Force on Facilities and appointed James Bush to lead the effort. The mission of the Task Force is to visit, collect data and analyze all of the Pottstown School District’s facilities, including the Annex and Administration Building, without preconceptions, in order to make informed, educationally-sound and fiscally-responsible recommendations to the School Board about the future of the elementary schools.
So far, the Task Force has visited all the elementary schools. Last Monday night (Jan. 24th) I had the opportunity to tour the high school and learn more about the Task Force and how they’re approaching their mission.
First, the Task Force itself is a large and diverse group. Second, they’ve got very big binders filled with details and reports about the capacity, weaknesses and costs of each building in the district. I regret not having made it to any of the elementary schools, but all of the agendas, meeting summaries and some reports are available here on the District’s website. Third, I learned that Pottstown has a really amazing high school. The building is light, clean and modern, having been updated and expanded in 2001. Its diverse programming prepares students along the whole educational continuum with life skills, technical and academic training that will get them to the next level that’s appropriate for them.
One really interesting aspect of the high school’s physical plant is that Pottstown Community TV uses 4,800 square feet of space there and pays $1,000/month to the School District to do so. PCTV is owned and operated by the Borough through a contract with Mark Pollock. The lease arrangement is a pretty sweet deal compared to the going rates for commercial/ retail space on High Street or in the region. While this local programming is certainly a benefit to Pottstown and the larger region that it reaches, PCTV’s activities are completely separate from the high school’s operations. From what we were told on the tour, PCTV does not benefit any students, involve any students, or have anything to do with the educational mission of the District. On the one hand, regardless of where PCTV is located, at this time it is a taxpayer-subsidized operation, whose current contract was a sticking point in Borough Council’s recent budget talks. One might ask, “Does it really matter if it’s coming from Borough taxes or School taxes?” On the other hand, now is the time to re-think its location in a school, where the educational mandate is clear and every option for cost savings must be considered.
It was stated at the meeting that the District currently uses a total of 12,534 square feet for administration. I would expect that the possible availability of 4,800 square feet for administration or the re-configuring of students/classrooms would be on the table in discussions this spring.
The President’s Task Force on Facilities meetings are open to anyone and allow for public comment and questions. The next one is on February 7th at the Middle School. I urge everyone to get out to the meetings that will continue through the spring and to get up to speed on what has already been reviewed, so that there will be a critical mass of informed citizens ready to take part in the discussions that are on the horizon. No less than the quality education of Pottstown’s youth and the financial future of the town are at stake.~
Feb. 2, 2011. Please note this comment and clarification received from Superintendent Dr. Reed Lindley:
“Seems that the statment “involves no students, not connected to the educational mission,” is somewhat of an overstatement. PCTV recently received a grant from the Health and Wellness Foundation to work collaboratively with the High School in the development of a live AM “cooking show.” While the details are still being finalized, this project is directly connected to the educational mission, and would involve students from more than one academic/career program at the High School.”