Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pottsgrove Wants New Look at Enrollment Numbers

Photo by Evan Brandt
Nancy Miller, a district nurse since 1984, who has
worked in every Pottsgrove building, is recognized
on her retirement.
Among the decisions the Pottsgrove School Board made last night was to spend a little extra money to ensure objectivity.

The vote was on hiring a firm to conduct a 10-year enrollment study.

The matter has taken on a new urgency with the proposal to add more than 500 residential units in Lower Pottsgrove in the Sanatoga Green Development.

Also pending, and closer to approval but getting far fewer headlines, is the 178-unit Spring Valley Farms project.

School officials recently met with township commissioners and told them nearly all the school buildings are at capacity and too many students would cause costs -- and taxes -- to rise.

Projections by the developers indicate only 58 children would be added to the school district from the 503 dwelling units, comprised of 171 studio and one-bedroom apartments; 172 two-bedroom apartments and 160 three-bedroom townhomes.

School officials have their doubts about those projects and the fact that they were recently confirmed by the Montgomery County Planning Commission has caused the school board to look to another vendor to conduct its enrollment projection study.

The planning commission was the low-bidder at $7,350, but several school board members expressed concern about the county's involvement with the project.

Both School Board President Rick Rabinowitz and board members Jim Lapic and Al Leach said they had a concern about the county's objectivity.

"The county have a vested interest in the project," Rabinowitz said. "They get more tax revenue but don't have to shoulder any of the costs."

Instead, the board voted unanimously to spend more money, and hire a firm called Futurethink for $9,500.

Business Manager David Nester, who told the board he too had shared their concerns but was re-assured by the county that the planning commission could be objective, said Futurethink has done work for the district before.

"They do fine work," he said, adding that the firm should be able to put together some projects only six weeks after getting the figures, whereas the county would not have results until spring.

The board also recognized a long-time school nurse, the Falcons PIAA District 1 football champions as well as the high school boys soccer team for making it to the district final, losing by one point.

The board also pledged not to raise taxes above 3.3 percent, giving it more time to put together the 2017-2018 budget.

And finally, the board also voted to move $1.5 million of a $2.3 million surplus from the 2015-2016 fiscal year into the capital reserve fund to pay for future work on district buildings and facilities.

Now, here are the Tweets from the meeting:

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