Wednesday, December 2, 2015

New Pottsgrove School Board Lumbers into Office With Marathon Meeting, Rabinowitz is President

Photos by Evan Brandt
Newly elected Pottsgrove School Board members take the oath of office Tuesday. They are from left, John Rossi, Al Leach, Jim Lapic, Bill Parker, Ashley Custer (hidden) Patti Grimm and, holding the Bible on which their oath was sworn, District Solicitor Marc Davis.

The newly re-organized Pottsgrove School  Board launched itself with what might be called an "epic" meeting; epic in the sense that it lasted about four hours, and that was just the public session.
Rick Rabinowitz is the new
Pottsgrove School Board President

They were all settled into what may well have been another "epic" closed-door executive session when the few weary survivors of the public meeting stumbled, bleary eyed, to their cars.

The first order of business was the election of new officers and, as many board observers expected, Rick Rabinowitz was chosen as the new board president.

His running mate in the previous election, Matt Alexander, was selected as vice president.

While that might have been enough headline fodder for some school boards, Pottsgrove just kept them coming.

Next up, the board voted to keep the coming year's tax increase at 3.1 percent or lower; not a hard promise to make as many of the new members ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility.

But new board member Bill Parker's proposal to direct the administration to develop the next budget by "starting at zero" failed to get even a second vote of support.

Parker then suggested that the board review any part of the high school expansion and renovation project not yet begun with an eye toward stopping work before it starts -- which means the new turf fields and renovation of the administration building.

But Rabinowitz and solicitor Marc Davis pointed out that the district has already signed contracts and any savings resulting from the breaking of those contracts could evaporate or even be exceeded by legal fees and damages that could  result.

With financial matters dominating the discussion, topics covered included the audit, which shows a surplus of more than $13 million; the final $7.5 million borrowing for the last portion of high school renovation; the high cost of retirement; and even some talk about the financial value of teachers attending professional conferences.

It's going to be an interesting year folks. It's now after 1 a.m. and I have an early start and another school board reorganization tonight, so here are the Tweets from the meeting.


  1. "Parker says he would also like to see information about exit interviews with staff. Also, more info on kids who leave 4 charter schools"....Isn't that a violation of HIPAA Laws or Human Resources where staff are concerned?

    1. I think that we can and should report on data from exit interviews that doesn't violate any confidentiality. I believe that Bill's inquiry about leavers for Charter schools was not to gain confidential information about individual students, but rather to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place to retain students and /or to bring them back.