Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Appreciation, Opposition & a Not-So-Secret Meeting

Photo by Evan Brandt
The Pottstown High School Show Choir is introduced by teacher Thomas Marsden during the Jan. 23 2017 school board meeting during with the choir performed "Love Train" for School Board Appreciation Month.

It helps, if you're only going to have just one meeting in a month, to have five pages worth of business be lumped into one vote.

But then, I'm not complaining as I like to get home to my bed as much as the next guy.

There were a lot of items crammed into last night's school board meeting, but one of them, outlined at the very beginning by Acting Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez, slipped by pretty quickly, but it's important because it may indicate a shift away from secrecy.

The school board's "workshop" meetings that have, in the past, been closed to the public under the rationale that they are not violating the open meetings law because they don't "deliberate."

They've taken a little bit of heat in these pages and on the pages of The Mercury for that practice.

The board held another one on Jan. 19, but this one was different because it was open to the public ... they just forgot to tell anyone.

Hey, you don't expect them to get everything right the first time do you?

To his credit, Rodriguez threw himself on the grenade and apologized for the district's failure to place a public notice about the meeting. He tried to make up for it by outlining what was discussed at the meeting and the board even posted the meeting minutes on the district web site.

You can read them by clicking here.

A quick look reveals a there was presentation by Community Relations Director John Armato on "branding" the district and "telling our story," a look at board goals such as improving academic achievement, installing stadium lights, looking at early education options and, of course, "austerity."

On to regular business.

As you have no doubt read by now on the front page of today's Mercury, the board also adopted a formal resolution opposing President Donald Trump's appointment of Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education.

The board also approved about $216,000 of building repairs which I suspect I'll write about later in The Mercury, as well as settling a set of over-due tax bills on three properties owned by a man named William B. Fretz.

Some of you may recall he came to council last year and made a plea for a deal to get his properties productive again. They agreed and now, months later, the school board has agreed as well.

Three years before  pleading for a tax deal with local boards, Fretz was agreeing to a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in which he paid $6.8 million

And of course, there were performances by high school and middle school musicians in honor of School Board Appreciation Month. You can see videos of those in the Tweets below.

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