Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Upper Perk Reverses Vote to Kill New Middle School

Photos by Evan Brandt

A standing-room only crowd applauds the Tuesday night reversal of the Dec. 4 vote to halt the construction of the new Upper Perkiomen Middle School on Montgomery Avenue.

What's done can always be undone -- at least in the Upper Perkiomen School District.

In the wake of the startling Dec. 4 decision by the newly elected school board to halt the middle school construction project, which was already underway, one board member changed his mind and brought the project back to life.

It was new board member James Glackin who provided the key vote. Elected
School Board member James Glackin, in blue, had 

at lot of people who wanted to talk to him after his vote.
with the slate of candidates pledging to stop the middle school project, Glackin reversed his Dec. 4 to kill the project and provided the crucial fifth vote to revive it.

Prior to his vote, he told the standing-room only crowd that the "we all have a cut-off point about when too much has been spent to stop" and that it is "different for everyone.

Evidently, the $7.8 million spent through November was past that point.

He also provided the fifth vote needed to halt the following motion fielded by School Board President Kerry Drake, an opponent of the project, to delay the project for 120 days.

The crowd was standing room only.
The votes came toward the end of a marathon meeting lasting more than three hours and called with just a few items on the agenda aimed at following up on the Dec. 4 vote and looking at what comes next.

But a motion by Vice President Mike Elliott, seconded by Joan Smith, to go ahead with the project put the primary issue in the district back on the table.

The first attempt to stop the vote was a motion to amend Elliott's motion to have the opposite result -- send termination letters to all the project contractors -- made by board member Raeann Hofkin.

That failed by a 5-4 vote which brought Elliott's motion back to the table.
Parent Hope Manion told the board, who announced her

candidacy for the board last night, warned the board that
"this is what it will be like from now on" if the middle 
school project did not move forward.

Solicitor Kenneth Roos explained that what Elliott's motion really needed to be was to rescind the Dec. 4 vote to terminate the project, a change to which he readily agreed.

Many of those who spoke against, and for, the Dec. 4 vote were present last night and reiterated their arguments and their positions.

Those opposed to the project pointed out that the voters had clearly chosen the slate of anti-project candidates -- by a margin of 18 percent.

Those favoring the project pointed to low voter turn-out and said many eligible voters had not gone to the polls because they believed the matter to be settled.

Others noted that at the Dec. 4 meeting, many supporting the middle school project had pleaded with the new board to simply suspend the project, not terminate it.

Now that the vote was reversed, their calls for compromise and reconciliation were suddenly silent.

And, as always, there was dispute about numbers -- what the real cost of going forward will be, as well as the real cost of halting the project.

Neither were completely clear last night.

That said, here are the Tweets from a very long night:

No comments:

Post a Comment