The Neighborhood Schools Myth
POTTSTOWN, PA – Back in December, we posted an article about Neighborhood Schools in Pottstown. You can read that post here.
In a Preservation Pottstown advertising promotional that was mailed to Pottstown residents in 2001, then board president George Wausnock made the following statement regarding the issue to abolish the neighborhood school system in Pottstown, “We think that would be a disaster for Pottstown. Our children have been able to walk to school for generations. We need to keep it that way.”
We’ve said this before, but we here at Save Pottstown!! firmly believe that the neighborhood school system HAS been a disaster for the taxpayers of Pottstown. It’s been a financial money pit for Pottstown taxpayers and a total fallacy promoted only in fictional coffee table books.
Just remember folks, that Pottstown School Board member Thomas Hylton co-founded Preservation Pottstown with George Wausnock in the early 1980s. Here’s a Historic Preservation Design Guide that the two of them assembled at the time they co-founded Preservation Pottstown. While this isn’t the entire 34-page guide, we’ve included here the front and back covers and Wausnock’s Introduction.
Does any of the text in Wausnock’s Introduction sound familiar? “Pottstown can attract the middle class families so desperately needed.”
It’s almost thirty years later…where o where are those middle class families George? Those middle class families are now in retirement…and have totally bypassed Pottstown.
As everyone knows, Pottstown has five elementary schools in its “neighborhood school system”. These five schools are located mainly on the outside perimeter of town, hardly walkable. According to public records, the total enrollment for the five schools is 1,701. Basic facilities maintenance for Pottstown’s five elementary schools cost Pottstown taxpayers more than $670,000 per year in 2007, 5% of the total school budget.
Let’s take a look at neighboring school districts and their number of elementary schools and enrollment figures:
Pottsgrove School District 3 schools with a combined enrollment of 1,571
Boyertown Area School District 7 schools with a combined enrollment of 3,552
Owen J. Roberts School District 5 schools with a combined enrollment of 2,166
Spring-Ford School District 7 schools with a combined enrollment of 3,121
Daniel Boone School District 2 schools with a combined enrollment of 820
What do these figures tell us? That Pottstown, with its 5 elementary schools and 1,701 student population has the most elementary school buildings with the lowest enrollment when compared to our five neighboring school districts.
Bear in mind while studying these figures that Pottstown is the only area school district designated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education as a High Tax / High Poverty school district. And we’re supposed to believe that we can afford to support 5 elementary schools??
And while we’re talking about “walkable schools”, let’s talk about how much Pottstown taxpayers are on the hook for busing. The District spends $1.1 million annually busing pupils within its five square mile boundary. If we have, according to Hylton, so many “walkable schools” in Pottstown, why are we spending so much of our taxpayer dollars busing our children??
According to a 2007 newsletter published by the district, about 35% of Pottstown students are bused. Busing is necessary not only to transport children who live too far from their designated school, but also to meet court-mandated diversity regulations, to serve special education needs (more than 18% of our students are special education), and to redistribute students from the densely populated center of town to the five buildings on the perimeter.
Why on earth does Thomas Hylton and his four member Wrecking Crew think that Pottstown’s “neighborhood school system” is worth saving in Pottstown? Explain to us how keeping this antiqued system in place is fiscally responsible?
Add these to the other financial questions that Hylton refuses to answer.