Tuesday, June 20, 2017

No Tax Hike, Leadership Vacuum at Middle School

Issues at Pottstown Middle School were front and center again at Monday night's school board meeting.

At this point, it hardly bears mentioning that the Pottstown School Board adopted its third consecutive final budget without a tax hike Monday night. It hasn't changed much since it was first presented more than a month ago

Monday night there were no questions or comments from the public, or the school board for that matter -- at least the school board that was there.

One might suppose that adopting a $62 million budget -- the single most important act a school board undertakes -- might at least attract interest from the board members themselves.

But only five of the nine members showed up Monday -- the absolute bare legal minimum for passing a budget.

It is surely a coincidence that none of the four who were absent -- Kim Stilwell, Polly Weand, Emanuel Wilkerson or Ron Williams -- are up for reelection this fall.

But on to more important things.

Michael DiDonato, middle school teacher and vice president of the Federation of Pottstown Teachers, triggered an overdue public conversation when he said the union is concerned about behavior problems at Pottstown Middle School.

Matthew Boyer, the principal of the fifth and sixth grades has left for greener pastures as principal of Pottsgrove Middle School and Thursday's agenda revealed that David Todd, the principal for the seventh and eighth grades has also tendered his resignation.

No word on where he is headed.

DiDonato pointed to a 50 percent staff turn-over in recent years; sky-high referrals to the guidance office and nurse; a record number of staff injuries "in the line of duty" and rampant disrespect and violence among the student body.

Board member Kurt Heidel even said his daughter's pending entry to the middle school "is a fear for my entire family."

DiDonato said the teachers appreciated the appointment of Beth Berkhimer as "dean of students in the middle of the year," which helped, and said the staff remains pledged to helping improve conditions any way they can.

I guess we'll see where it all goes from here.

That said, here are the Tweets:

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