Friday, November 17, 2017

A Thanksgiving Tradition Lost, Salary Hikes Delayed

Photos by Evan Brandt

A contingent of long-time Owen J. Roberts fans of the traditional Thanksgiving Day football rivalry between OJR and Pottstown were at Thursday's meeting of the Pottstown School Board to try to reverse Pottstown's decision to end the game.

Anyone who lives in either Pottstown or the Owen J. Roberts school districts who does not know about that this year's Thanksgiving Day game between the two teams -- its 59th -- just hasn't been paying attention.

After the story was broken by intrepid Mercury Sports Assistant Editor Sam Stewart last week, it got its official airing at last night's school board meeting.

Steve Anspach, Pottstown's director of co-curricular activities, explained that changes in PIAA rules have made it much more difficult to schedule an additional game on Thanksgiving, and also cuts into the ability of football players who also- play a winter sport to to-in their practices on time.

Jeff Moses, who was among six OJR fans in the audience, disputed some of Anspach's reasoning and
Jeff Moses argued there are ways for the tradition to continue.
said it would be possible to adjust the schedules to still allow for the game.

And outgoing board member Polly Weand, never one to miss an opportunity to put the focus on her, said she was being accosted at the supermarket by people upset by the change, calling it "a bolt from the blue."

Several other board members noted that Anspach had warned them of the possibility that the change could cause a problem as early as last year.

Weand argued that because the matter was brought up in committee, the full board should have voted on it. However, other board members said while they regretted the end of the era, they did not want to start micro-managing the athletic department and get involved in game scheduling.

They agreed with solicitor Stephen Kalis that the board should only vote when the athletic committee had made a recommendation.

The committee system, and Weand's problems with it, were also front and center for the other newsworthy item of the evening.

Three months ago, the board debated, and failed to decide, on raises for the mid-level administrators of the district. It was referred back to the finance and personnel committee where it essentially sat for three months.

Weand said one month it wasn't even discussed and to think the committee would ever reach consensus on it was unrealistic. Instead, she said the full board should vote tonight, given that it was the last voting meeting with outgoing board and they had the experience and knowledge to make the decision.

But even board members Like Ron Weand, who agreed with Weand that the district could not afford more raises, said they would not work outside the committee system.

"This is like a lame-duck vote for me," said Kim Stilwell, whose term expires at the end of the month. "I am not going to saddle the next board with this expense."

"If we're not going to vote tonight, at least people will know I) tried," said Weand, not without some melodrama.

She then presented the district with a parting gift -- literally.

In going through her mother's attic, she came across a photo of the Pottstown Class of 1935, which included her father, and presented it to the high school.

Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

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