Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Upper Pottsgrove Moves Closer to Sewer System Sale

Township commissioners took the next step forward Monday night toward selling the sewer system.

With a unanimous vote, the board voted to approve the deal with PFM, once known as Public Finance Management, for the assessment of the system and to identify potential bidders.

Under the agreement approved, PFM will be paid $50,000, plus $1.5 percent of the sale price, but only if the system is ultimately sold.

"This is just looking at and evaluating," said Commissioners Chairman Trace Slinkerd. "If we go through this process and pull out, we don't pay anything."

Commissioner Elwood Taylor said he remains doubtful, especially considering that if the preliminary figures PFM showed the township are right, ratepayers won't save that much money, if any, and will have a sewer service provider less accountable than one run by elected officials.

"I am of the philosophical position that if the private sector can do it better, it ought to," said Commissioners Vice Chairman France Krazalkovich.

He said Upper Pottsgrove sewer rates have doubled in last 13 years, and one potential buyer has not raised rates in nine years. But Taylor noted that Krazalkovich picked 13 years because of the big increase 13 years ago and that for the last 12 years, sewer rates have been steady.

Commissioner Renee Spaide said rates went up 71 percent in 2007 and that more work on the system is needed, so rates will have to go up.

Slinkerd reminded everyone that in addition to paying off the debt, the proceeds of the sale could be used to repair township buildings as well as provide a cushion in the township budget.

But resident Keith Kehl pointed out that those in the township who are not hooked into the sewer system have not paid into it and therefore should not benefit from it's sale.

In the meantime, repairs and expansion of the system continues with the 3-2 vote to advertise for bids for the second phase of the Regal Oaks sewer project, which will hook up 26 homes within the Regal Oaks development and six more on the west side of Gilbertsville Road. 

Commissioner Martin Schreiber and Krazalkovich both vote against the motion, with both questioning why more of the project is not using gravity as opposed to the grinder pumps it calls for in some homes.

Owners of those homes object to this aspect of the project as the pumps can break down and will need to be maintained and repaired.

The engineers for the project explained that running the line for gravity for all homes would involve many easements and increase the costs.

Taylor also noted that running the line down the street would require many homeowners to "reverse their plumbing," which had previously been oriented to go out the rear of their homes, thus saving them thousands.

Nevertheless, the project will involve tearing up portions of Rose Valley Road, which was just re-paved within the past three years.

Government at its finest folks.

And with that, here are the Tweets from the meeting:

Monday, May 20, 2019

60th Band Anniversary Celebrates Late Founder

Pottsgrove Community Band founder
Thomas G. Roberts
Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Pottsgrove Community Band.

The Pottsgrove Community Band will celebrate its 60th anniversary by presenting free concert on Sunday, June 9 at 2 PM at Pottsgrove High School auditorium.

The performance will also be a tribute to the life and legacy of Thomas G. Roberts, the band’s founder, who passed away in January.

In 1959, Tom Roberts was the high school band director at Pottsgrove High School and had a dream of beginning a community band. 

He felt it gave local musicians an opportunity to play their instruments, while at the same time enriching life in the community. 

That summer, Roberts put his plan into action and created the Pottsgrove Community Band. The band consisted of high school band students and adult musicians from the community. The band performed its first concert under the portico of the new high school building. For many years, the band performed one concert a year. 

Now 60 years later, the band has doubled in size to more than 60 instrumentalists and is made up of mostly adults. It has fulfilled an important niche in the area, performing both for formal concerts as well as outdoor summer concerts at churches, parks, fairs and nursing homes. The band performs an entire holiday series of concerts also.

The anniversary concert on June 9th, will feature a mix of old standards, such as marches, Broadway show tunes, movie themes, pop music and patriotic selections. 

Many of the band’s musicians will appear as soloists. Chris Alutius will perform a beautiful trumpet solo entitled “The Maid and the Mist.” John Braun a trombonist will play a jazz solo, “Sweet and Lovely.” Alto Sax player Mike Deklava will also step up to the microphone and play a selection called “Nightfall.”

The band is currently under the direction of John Meko, who learned to play the trumpet as a student of Tom Roberts in the Pottsgrove School District. Meko, received a bachelors and masters degree in music education and followed Mr. Roberts as the Pottsgrove High School band director, retiring in 2002.

There will be a few guest conductors. Bruce Roberts, son of the late Tom Roberts and retired instrumental music teacher from Spring-Ford, will guest conduct some of his father’s favorite compositions. Also, Rodney Boyer, another former student of Tom Roberts and retired music teacher from Pottsgrove, will be featured at the podium too.

The Pottsgrove Community Band is unique, in that, people of all ages and all musical skills are united by the common bond of loving to play music. All instrumentalists are made to feel welcome, and the group is always looking for new members. Rehearsals are Monday evening, 7 p.m., at Pottsgrove High School. More information can be obtained at the Community Band’s Facebook page.

The concert is Sunday, June 9, at 2 p.m. in the Pottsgrove High School auditorium.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Explaining Paucity in Primary Election Coverage

There are few things more seemingly futile than trying to get people interested in local elections, particularly in an off-year, when no presidents or governors are on the ballot.

Double that sense of futility when you're talking about local primaries.

But you won't have to look long to find a Mercury editorial about how important they are; that particularly in the case of school boards, you are electing the people who will impose the largest portion of your property tax bill; the local Democracy is where it all starts.

Since school board candidates can run for both November ballot lines, the primary is often when these most important elections get decided, when the fewest people determine those who will vote on your largest tax bill.

Key to pushing the sisyphean rock up the hill of informing a largely disinterested public are local newspapers.

And they are dying, around the country and around the corner.

Staff cuts limit our ability to get to every election and, when breaking news rears its head, the time available to do election previews gets even shorter.

All of this is by way of long-winded explanation and apology for failing you during this year's primary election cycle.

I don't say this to elicit sympathy, but in anger because you deserve better.

Two years ago, I managed to get every municipal and school board election covered by using a web-based survey program called Survey Monkey to invite candidates to let voters know a little bit about themselves.

I had intended to do that for the primary elections, but multiple shootings, bullying issues, SWAT teams, school closings, threats to cut school music programs and just everyday working to cover municipal meetings combined with some family health issues to erode away the time I had available for that work.

When I looked through the three county election pages, I counted 91 candidate profiles that would be required to adequately and fairly complete that task.

The Mercury's free election website.
We did manage to fulfill what I consider the most basic responsibility and at least let everyone know who is running in our coverage area, and get it posted on our free web site, where basic election information can be found in both map and spreadsheet form.

And stringer extraordinaire Laura Catalano did the heavy lift and profiled all 17 people running in the Owen J. Roberts School Board race.

But there is also a hotly contested race in the Perkiomen Valley School District. And in Lower Frederick, the county Republican committee has waded into a tangled race to fill new seats on the board of supervisors approved by voters last year.

I know about these things, but cannot responsibly report on them without more staff, more time, or a working cloning device. It may sound silly, but this stuff keeps me up at night.

But even in the era of Trump, reality is ultimately unavoidable.

With fewer staffers available to cover those "must-have" stories about shootings, stabbings and all the
other stories people say they hate, but read voraciously, the primary election coverage fell away.

And I feel badly about that because I feel strongly about the local paper's responsibility to cover those things, even if hardly anyone pays attention.

When I'm throwing shade about the importance of local journalism (and I'm doing that a lot these days)  I usually point out that the nation's founders did not enact the First Amendment to ensure our right to cover car crashes. It was, first and foremost, to preserve the ability to independently inform residents about their government, and to provide a platform to criticize it when warranted.

That gets harder and harder to do every day.

If you're an WHYY radio listener, you may have heard me on the radio Friday morning in a story about "ghost newspapers."  The term refers to newspapers that exist mostly just in masthead, but are filled with copy-and-paste press releases from government and local organizations, put there by skeleton staffs scrambling to fill pages when they have no writers.

I try very hard to get the things covered that need to get covered, like elections, but when there are three municipal meetings a night you should cover, the laws of physics dictate you can only make one (although sometimes I can slip into a second one halfway through).

Some things will by necessity, fall through the cracks.

Although the hollowing out of newspaper staff is a national trend, it is being accelerated in this area by hedge fund ownership; the evidence shows that companies like the one that owns The Mercury, are not about keeping the business sustainable.
Hedge funds that own newspapers are more concerned
with assets and profit margins than journalism.

They are about extracting all the value until there's nothing left. Then they move on to the next distressed company and a community is left without a local news source.

It's no accident that The Mercury's landmark building was sold, or nearly every other one owned by Alden Global Capital.

You can read more about that here.

That's what happens when Wall Street gets involved. Profit is the top motive. I understand that and would expect nothing else. I just wonder if Wall Street hedge funds are the best choice to own institutions on which local democracies partially depend.

We can all breath a sigh of relief that Alden just lost its bid to try to take over Gannett, one of the world's largest newspaper publishers, and practice its particular form on journalism on those properties as well.
The front page of Friday's Reading Eagle

But the threat remains locally.

For those on The Mercury's Facebook page who relish pointing to The Reading Eagle as the example of what The Mercury should aspire toward, I have some bad news for you.

MediaNews Group, Alden's latest name change, was the only qualified bidder for that paper as well in it struggles with bankruptcy, a struggle I have survived twice.

It gives me no satisfaction to write that.

Because although I sometimes ground my teeth when The Eagle got a story we didn't (and for the record, that RARELY happened), I have always known they were an excellent newspaper.

And I know Berks County readers will be more poorly informed as a result of this sale, if it goes through. And that's not good for anybody.

Studies have shown having a local newspaper reduces municipal borrowing costs because of a lesser likelihood of corruption going undiscovered.

Other studies show that communities without local newspapers become more politically polarized and less engaged in their local government and fewer people run for office.

That's the last thing we need around here where an army of Facebook complainers threaten to vote out the current Pottstown Borough Council members, only to have all but one of them running unopposed -- again.

Which brings us full circle to local elections.

I intend to at least try to do candidate questionnaires for the November elections, when there are fewer candidates left in the field, I but hesitate to make that promise.

After all, news keeps happening whether I'm working or not.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Pottsgrove Students Shine in Reading Challenge

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Pottsgrove School District.
Two teams of Pottsgrove High School students recently won high honors in this year’s final WordWright Challenge of the academic year. Participating with 693 school teams across the country, Pottsgrove’s eleventh graders tied for thirteenth place in the nation, while our seniors tied for fourteenth in the nation.

Pottsgrove senior and class Valedictorian, Paul Sachs was one of the 12 highest ranked twelfth graders in the country in the year-end cumulative standings.

Pottsgrove students who achieved perfect scores were juniors Simon Lapic and Brenna Mayberry. The students were supervised by Todd Kelly.

The premise behind WordWright Challenge is that attentive reading and sensitivity to language are among the most important skills students acquire in school. 

The tests students must analyze for the Challenge can range from short fiction by Eudora Welty or John Updike to poetry as old as Shakespeare’s or as recent as Margaret Atwood’s, and to essays as classic as E.B. White’s or as current as James Parker’s cultural commentary in The Atlantic. 

Though the texts vary widely in voice, tone, and length, they have one thing in common: style. All use language skillfully to convey layers and shades of meaning not always apparent to students on a first or casual reading. 

Like the questions on the verbal SAT I, the SAT II in English Literature, and the Advanced Placement exams in both English Language and English Literature, the questions posed by the WordWright Challenge ask students both the recognize the emotional and/or rational logic of a piece of writing and to notice the ways in which a writer’s style shapes and shades his meaning. Because the WordWright Challenge is a classroom activity and not a college-entrance exam, however, it can be a learning experience, not just a high hurdle. 

After completing a Challenge, classes are encouraged to talk about the tests and the answers to the multiple-choice questions, and are also given additional topics for open-ended discussion and/or written response.

The texts for the fourth WordWright meet this year were a pair of poems by Philip Booth and Alastair Reid for 9th and 10th graders and a short story by Michael Chabon for 11th and 12th graders.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Pottstown Board Rejects Music Cuts, Says Fight Belongs at June 12 Fair Funding Rally in Harrisburg

Photos by Evan Brandt
A sizeable crowd turned out to defend Pottstown's music, arts, library and foreign language programs from possible budget cuts Thursday, only to find out the board decided against cutting any programs.

The Pottstown High School parking lot was nearly as full as on holiday concert nights.

Rally posters made by seventh and eighth grade band members were being handed out.

Speeches extolling the benefits of music education were being rolled and un-rolled in the nervous hands of those not used to public speaking.

But as Thursday's school board meeting got going, School Board President Amy Francis took the wind out of everybody's sails by announcing the proposed cut to the music program they had all come to protest is not going to happen.

This was the reaction:

But those who had come to fight for their programs were told the fight is not over and doesn't belong in Pottstown. Rather it belongs in Harrisburg, where the Republican majority does not use the Legislature's own fair education formula to fund public schools in Pennsylvania.

"The problem is not in Pottstown, the problem is in Harrisburg and if we don't make change there,
Pottstown sixth grader Amiyah Carter, picks a protest sign made
up by seventh and eight graders in preparation for the May 16
school board meeting.
we'll be here again next year," said school board member John Armato. "We won't solve this problem by pitting one group against another. We need to take this fight to Harrisburg, where they are failing to meet their ethical responsibilities to treat all students fairly."

A group of Pottstown Schools advocates has joined with a larger advocacy group called POWER to press for the passage of House Bill 961 which calls for all Pennsylvania public school funding to be allocated using the three-year-old fair funding formula which takes things like poverty and local tax effort into account.

Had it been in place this year, Pottstown would have had $13 million more to balance its budget, rather than considering not replacing long-time high school band director Michael Vought, who is retiring this year.

Instead, the decision was made to pull an additional $97,000 out of the reserve fund to balance the $63 million preliminary budget for the 2019-2020 school year that was adopted by an 8-1 vote later in the evening. Board member Thomas Hylton cast the only nay vote.

But it will take more than a single rally to save these Pottstown school programs on a more permanent basis, said Schools Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez. 

"Don't just think that one day is going to change everything. Take some time and call a legislator. Call (House) Speaker (Mike) Turzai," Rodriqguez said. 

"If Speaker Turzi decides that bill is not going to make it to the floor, if we don't have the opportunity
Ironically, the night Pottstown rallied to save its music program,
was also the night it received a national music education award
from the National Association of Music Merchants.
to get a hearing; if we don't have the opportunity for it to go the education committee for it to actually get to the House, even though we have 56 co-spsonsors for the bill and only need 102 votes for it to pass, one person can keep that from going to the floor," Rodriguez said. 

"So we need you to pick up the phone before you actually go," he said.

"Because this is the morally right thing to do, it's not about money, it's about students. And until people understand that we are not begging for money, we are fighting for students, nothing will change and we will be right back here again next year," Rodriguez said.

"You have to go to Harrisburg, there's really no excuse," said state Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-146th Dist. "And it can't be this nice-to-meet-you-Harrisburg. You really have to let them know what it means. It's nearly $14 million this district is underfunded; the fifth most under-funded district in the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania," he said.

"It's a disgrace," Ciresi said. "It needs to end. And it needs to end this year."

Laura Johnson
"Pottstown made it work again this year," said fair funding activist and school board candidate Laura Johnson. "But eventually, we will not be able to make it work without changing how Harrisburg funds public education."

She said the money the General Assembly stiffs Pottstown not only threatens programs, but also affects teacher salaries. Pottstown currently has the lowest average teacher salaries in Montgomery County.

That's not news to Beth Yoder, Pottstown High School art teacher and president of the Federation of Pottstown Teachers.

The arts "are the heart and soul of the education of our children," said Yoder. "We need to educate the whole child, and not just the half that we can afford."

Added Yoder, "we constantly talk about zip codes dictating what our kids have or do not have. Why would you consider taking even more away from them just because they were born in 19464? There are hundreds and hundreds of studies that show the positive impact the arts have, both physiologically and emotionally the arts have on every single student."

Here's video of more of Yoder's comments:

As evidence of Yoder's assertions, student Kayleigh Gibson stepped up the microphone and said Yoder's art room "was my safe place" when she was having a hard time at home. "Art, music and foreign language literally saved my life," she said.

Alivia Lopez
"We're not a band, we're a family," said 2017 graduate Alivia Lopez, who came to the meeting to support a program that helped her and countless others. "There are teachers here in this program who were moms and dads to these students."

Tammy Vontor said her son went to college on a music scholarship and will have a career as the result of the music education he received in Pottstown.

Alum Jessica Moyer, a former band president, said "the band put Pottstown on the map" and warned against the axiom of "doing more with less. Eventually, less always becomes less," she said.

She said she would be on the buses being arrange for the visit to Harrisburg.
Ted Freese

So will Ted Freese, a Pottstown school librarian who thanked the board for also rejecting the idea of not replacing retiring middle school librarian Claire Faust, which would likely have lowered English and math scores.

"June 12 is officially my last day of school, but my family and I will not be going to Disney World. We're going to Harrisburg," said Freese.

"I don't beg for much, but I will beg every day of the week for our kids, every day of the week," said Board Vice President Katina Bearden. "But we need your help, to have all this energy we have here right now tonight, and put in the right place" and that place is Harrisburg, she said.

If you'd like to follow that advice, and help Pottstown get the education funding it deserves, click here.

And with that, here are the Tweets from last night's meeting:

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Pottstown Girls Win YWCA 'Exceptional' Awards

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Pottstown School District.
Riley Maguire
Logan Ruyak

Congratulations to the young ladies that were honored by the YWCA Exceptional Girls Awards.

They represent our students' hard work and good citizenship. 

The honorees are building a solid foundation for future success and happiness. 

Franklin 4th grader Riley Maguire won the Health and Wellness Award and Logan Ruyak from the high school received The Arts Award for her ability to express self-truth through artistic expression. 
Chloe Hebert
Lyell Beneditch

Pottstown High School Junior Chloe Herbert was recognized for making a positive impact on the community through leadership, determination and ingenuity with the Community Impact Award. 

Fifth grader Lyell Beneditch received the Health and Wellness Award for being a role model of healthy lifestyle. 

The Rising Star Award for exhibiting leadership qualities and mentoring peers was awarded to high school student Emily Weber
Emily Weber and
Destiny Lepree Williams
Julianna Figueroa

Eleventh grader Destiny Lepree Williams was recognized with The Shooting Start Award for having a strong set of personal values and mentoring others to set high personal goals. 

 Julianna Figueroa distinguished herself in athletics,academics, preforming arts and citizenship. She was honored with the Trailblazer Award for acting as a passionate leader, who tears down barriers in male-dominated arenas. 

 Remember their names, you will hear them in the future as they take their place as community leaders.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Boyertown Board Votes to Begin Closing Pine Forge

Photos by Evan Brandt
A panoramic view of the crowd at the start of the May 14 Boyertown School Board meeting.

With a 5-4 vote, the Boyertown Area School Board Tuesday night kicked off the process for closing Pine Forge Elementary School.

Voting just one week before the primary election, the members voting in favor of the closure were David Lewis, Donna Usavage, Jill Dennin, Rodney Boyer and School Board President Steve Elsier.

Voting in opposition were Ruth Dierolf, Clay Breece, School Board Vice President Brandon Foose
With enrollment of about 242 in December, Pine Forge is one of
Boyertown's smallest school buildings.
and Christine Neiman.

As solicitor Jeff Sultanik explained in some detail, Tuesday's vote is not a final decision, but only begins the process for gathering more information for a full public hearing required by the state; as well as approvals by the Berks County Planning Commission and Douglass (Berks) Township Planning Commission.

But at least four speakers Tuesday night did not need a formal public hearing to explain their thoughts on the subject.

"Closing Pine forge will create student over-crowding which will become a district-wide issue, not just an isolated issue in one or two schools." said Jen Irey. She said it will lead to larger class sizes, which will lead to less individualized attention for the students.

Here is some video of her comments:

"What is disheartening to me, is that after sitting through all these meetings, I still have not heard any of the long-term plans laid out," said Krista Gross, a parent of three children in the district.

"I would like to know what the district plans to do if their assumptions are wrong; what their back-up plan is if the district grows faster than they anticipate" said Gross. "Will our children end up in modular classrooms again?"

Here is more video of her comments:

Ellen Martignetti said some of the Pine Forge staff is already moving on to other jobs, "instead of waiting to be re-assigned by the district. Came you blame them? Isn't that what all of you would do?"

"Imagine what that looks like to a child. It looks frightening." Martignetti said. "Imagine a building full of unfamiliar faces."

Here is video of more of her comments:

Resident Jon Emeigh said his comments would not be popular.

"I don't know if everyone realizes how dire our financial situation is. It's really bad," said Jon Emeigh. "And we have only a choice of bad decisions"

"If we vote to keep Pine Forge open, it's going to cost about $8 million, spread out. Over the course of 30 years, it will cost about $16 million," Emeigh said.

"So the trade off for you keeping your school, is probably not being able to spend more on counselors; potentially not upgrading other schools and potentially threatening programs."

Nevertheless, he said, he would not support closing the school without more details on what would happen next.

Here is more video of Emeigh's comments:

But Boyertown Superintendent Dana Bedden said that if the administration went to the extra step of putting together those plans, the public would argue that the board's mind was already made up before the vote.

"Tonight's decision is not a closing decision," said Sultanik, noting state law requires a public hearing with full details a full three months before the final vote is taken.

In fact, two of the "yes" votes, Boyer and Dennin, said they voted yes in part to move the process forward so that those very questions can be answered.
Supporters of keeping Pine Forge open, wore red.

"If the data changes, I'm willing to change my mind," said Dennin.

But Neiman doubted that. "Once we start having hearings, it's going to be a done deal," she said.

She said Pine Forge students will most likely be sent to Earl, Boyertown and Colebrookdale elementary schools and will be "on the bus for an hour."

Dierolf agreed that the school district "is in financial crisis, but we're building a new stadium."

Lewis said closing the school will save the district $4 to $5 million, but Dierolf said she does not see those savings being realized.

"Cosing a school to close a budget shortfall is wrong," said Breece. "This will not raise academic outcomes for our kids," said Breece. He also predicted that in a few years, it will be decided that a new elementary school is needed "five or six miles to the east."

Pine Forge Elementary School was first constructed in 1928 as
Douglass Township Grade School. It was upgraded in 1957 and 1987
and is located on eight acres.
He was perhaps referring to the fact that enrollment growth driving re-districting is coming primarily from the Montgomery County side of the 100-square-mile district, in Douglass (Mont.) and New Hanover townships, where hundreds of new housing units are planned or already approved.

But Bedden insisted the one thing "not on the table is a new elementary school. That will cost as much as $26 million, and that is money we don't have," he said.

According to the district study, last year it costs $2.7 million to operate Pine Forge Elementary.  It would cost between $1.8 to $4 million to upgrade the building to be compatible with the other elementary schools.

Pine Forge has about 17 teachers and 18 other staff. The administration does not call for any lay-offs as a result of closing the school. Personnel savings would come from attrition, retirements and resignations.

Donna Usavage said the studies have shown there is enough room in the other school buildings and closing Pine Forge "is in the best interests of the entire school district."
After voting, the school board went into a executive session, closed
to the public, for more than an hour, which did a good job of 
clearing out the audience from the meeting.

But the question of whether there is enough room in Boyertown's school buildings is exactly what is driving the re-districting plan which was adopted unanimously prior to the Pine Forge vote.

In the first vote, the board voted unanimously to begin the process of re-districting, which will change which school hundreds of students attend among Boyertown's seven elementary schools and two middle schools.

After the meeting Elsier explained that the re-districitng plan, or "rightsizing" as Bedden has labeled it, can be found on the district website and affects all school buildings but the high school.

According to that information, last updated on May 5, Boyertown's school buildings have the following capacities and enrollments as of December:

  • Boyertown Elementary: Capacity of 700 with 445 students, or 64 percent of capacity.
  • Colebrookdale Elementary: Capacity of 350 with 291 students, or 83 percent of capacity.
  • Earl Elementary: Capacity of 350 with 246 students, or 70 percent capacity.
  • Gilbertsville Elementary: Capacity of 700 with 689 students, or 98 percent of capacity.
  • New Hanover/Upper Frederick Elementary: Capacity of 700 with 675 students, or 96 percent of capacity.
  • Pine Forge Elementary: Capacity of 350 with 242 students, or 69 percent of capacity.
  • Washington Elementary: Capacity of 700 with 483 students, or 69 percent of capacity.
  • Middle School East: Capacity of 1,050 with 895 students, or 85 percent of capacity.
  • Middle School West: Capacity of 860 with 782 students, or 91 percent of capacity.

Elsier conceded that should the board ultimately vote to close Pine Forge Elementary, that the plan will have to be adjusted to put those 242 students in other buildings.

In other news, after coming out of an hour-long executive session, from which the public was excluded, the school board voted 7-2 to adopt a $121 million preliminary budget that, if unchanged by June, will raise taxes by 3.6 percent.

Now, here are the Tweets from the meeting: