Friday, May 13, 2016

No Tax Hike, Acting Super in Pottstown Schools

Stephen Rodriguez
Two remarkable things happened in the most unlikely of places last night.

Decisions were made in the administration building meeting room.

(OK, that was a little snarky, but I will confess that both did take me by surprise.)

First, the Pottstown School Board's finance committee endorsed a $59.7 million budget for 2016-2017 that will not raise taxes.

I'll let that sink in for a moment.

That's two years in a row with no tax increase.

In Pottstown.

And, perhaps even more surprising, the board's personnel committee not only endorsed the idea of making Human Resources Director Stephen Rodriguez the acting superintendent of the district, it also endorsed the final pieces of the administrative re-organization that it had questioned just a two months ago.

The first was made possible primarily by an unprecedented drop, that's right I said DROP, in health insurance costs worth close to $1 million in savings.

The other piece of news is primarily a function of time.

The school board apparently has been unable to find a superintendent candidate to its liking.

As a result, with the end of the school year fast approaching (Superintendent Jeff Sparagana leaves at the end of June), the board had to put someone in charge.

Also, the board's primary objection to enacting the administrative re-organization plan which, to my understanding adds two new positions to the administration, was that they thought the new superintendent should be allowed to have input into that re-organization.

With the clock run-out on that consideration, that objection becomes moot. And now the primary supporter of the plan was its primary objector -- board member Thomas Hylton.

As a result, what the personnel committee endorsed is making Stephen Rodriguez  the acting superintendent given that he is one of the few people within the district who is eligible and hiring someone from outside the district would be expensive.

Rodriguez told the committee members he does not want, nor is he ready, to be the full-time superintendent, he just wants a guarantee of a job when a new super is finally picked.

As a result, the committee endorsed Sparagana's suggestion that a new human resources manager be hired as soon as possible and, when a new superintendent is selected, that Rodriguez be all-but guaranteed the post of "assistant to the superintendent."

"Every number one loves a number two who does not want to be number one," Rodriguez said.

With the hiring of a new Information Technology director and the shift of positions for LaTanya White, who will take on pupil services as well as her current alternative education job, the only post in Sparagana's re-organization plan left unfilled is director of special education, a post Rodriguez said he is working hard to fill.

All of this remains just a recommendation until the full board votes on it, but with the endorsement of six board members in attendance, it would seem a majority exists to put both plans into action.

That's as much as you get for today. Let's remember I was supposed to be out sick today (I did manage to cough on a few committee members).

For a deeper dive this news, you will, as always, have to read The Mercury.

Here are the Tweets from last night.

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