Thursday, June 19, 2008

Phoenixville School Board votes to scrap building school near Federal superfund site

School near Superfund site rejected Thursday, June 19, 2008

10:36 PM By Chad Pradelli

KIMBERTON, Pa. - June 19, 2008 (WPVI) --

The Phoenixville school board announced a change of plans Thursday night - after a groundswell of opposition over a proposed school that was to have been built across from an industrial superfund site.

Parents applauded the nearly unanimous vote to scrap the project to build Kimberton Elementary next to a federal Superfund hazardous waste site.

"I'm relieved. I wouldn't send my children there. I'm a cancer survivor myself, and I think the risk is too great to put a school on toxic land," said parent Karen Fain.

"We're very proud the board decided to go this way, so now we can select a nice healthy site," said opponent Dr. Pat Rose.

The school had been in the works for several years. But opposition only reached a fever pitch during the past couple of weeks.

The district spent nearly $500,000 on environmental testing and studies, and says the site appeared safe.

"In this case emotion overcame science. The Board sensed it and as a result of that, scrapped the project," said a disappointed school superintendent Dr. David Noyes.

The vote was a bitter defeat for Noyes. He will retire at the end of the month. The project was his swan song.

Under his watch, the district poured nearly $4 million into the project.

"All I can say is the next administration will to find a way to recover as much of the funding that was lost as possible.

When the vote was over the superintendent did receive a standing ovation. Many parents say, despite the project, the district is better today than it was six years ago when Noyes took over.

Video at link.


Anonymous said...

"..."All I can say is the next administration will to find a way to recover as much of the funding that was lost as possible..."

Is that a veiled threat to jack up our school taxes?

Anonymous said...

Wow. How sad is this? This is the saddest school district I have ever seen. My kids go to Catholic school and we can't even get a decent bus route. I'm glad they decided not to build Kimberton Elementary School on the Superfund site but now what? What a waste of money!

Anonymous said...

No, anonymous 12:53:00 PM, it is not a veiled threat. Not even a threat.

Taxes WILL rise to replace the million dollars.

Seems as if the school district has as many dummies in charge as the Borough of Phoenixville.

Must have something to do with the water supply.

Anonymous said...

To Anon June 20, 2008 12:53:00 PM:

Oh, I don't think it's a threat -- I think it's a promise to raise our school taxes.

This project was doomed from the start -- the land was purchased at the height of the real estate boom. My memory may be faulty, but I believe Dave Frees was the spokesperson for the school board at the time and justified the high price of the land as being "the best for our children" in spite of the Superfund site next door. They wanted an expensive, extensive campus in Kimberton and they were determined to have that, come Hades or high (contaminated) water.

If the land is sold, some of the costs will be recooped, but probably not all, as we're now in a real estate slump.

Beware of the past and current School Board's grandiose building plans -- the Phoenixville School District spends the most per student in Chester County, not becuase of instruction, but because so many parents in the district send their children to private schools. Although the children do not attend Phoenixville District schools, the district still has to foot the bill for tranporting (usually by bus routes) those children from their homes to whatever private school they do attend. With gas prices going through the roof, these costs will only increase.

However, rather than looking into biodisel for buses (as done in Great Valley) or alternating the route to be more efficient and save money, the Phoenixville School Board has stated that their "plan" to lower these transportation costs is to build huge new schools in the hope that once wealthy parents see these sparkling campuses, they will immedately drop plans to send their children to Malvern Prep, Renaissance, Kimberton Waldorf, Holy Family, etc and immediately sign up their child for Phoenixville Area School District Schools.

Why a parent would give up Malvern Prep or Kimberton Waldorf (let alone Holy Family) just on the basis of how a school looks, rather than the curriculum, teachers and/or SAT scores is beyond me, but in the wisdom of our past and future School Board, it appears to be their belief.

Therefore, when all those East Pikeland parents (the School Board's target audience to bring more children into the Phoenixville School District and lower those transportation costs) rose up against the Kimberton Elementary School, the Board has no choice but to back down. First, if the East Pikeland parents refused to use the school and instead put their children in private school, the Board's transportation costs would go through the roof -- and the school would be at least half empty. Second, parents in East Pikeland tend to have higher incomes and higher education levels (note all the physcians as spokespersons) -- to preserve their children, they would have been very, very willing to file numerous lawsuits and their pockets (especially if East Pikeland parent-lawyers donated their time) would have been deeper than the school districts.

So, until this School Borad strategy of "build our way to more students to reduce our transportion costs" is abandoned in favor of actually taking on the trasportation costs head-on, I would say, yes, such blunders as the Kimberton Elementary School will continue -- and they will be the rationale (along with skyrocketing fuel costs) for jacking up our school taxes at every opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Not all $4 million is lost. The architecture and design fees will be repurposed.

More importantly, think about how pasd was planning to spend and spend. Numerous insurance policies to address health, remediation, construction and cleanup.

75 years of vapor barriers, remediation, consulting, testing, etc. It's embarrasing how all the environmental consultants said the land is acceptable, but buy all their crap just to be sure. Their whole industry is a scam on par with the mortgage industry scam.

PASD also failed to file forms for state and federal grants available for schools. While ditching the geothermal precluded them from some funds, there is no excuse for not taking advantage of many other funds available. Noyse didn't care if the taxpayer had to pick up the tab. Hopefully, Schwab will.

Board members Wickstrom and Mea voted to keep the school. Vote those idiots out this fall.

So while we lost most of $4 million, I believe we saved many millions more in the long run plus we're building a cool school on a normal site.

Anonymous said...

where will the "cool school on a normal site" be? is there a backup plan?

Anonymous said...

Until we get the quality teachers our tax dollars are paying for we are doomed.

Anonymous said...

As far as a back up plan, the School Board didn't have plans or answers for many of our questions and concerns. So, that leaves us as taxpayers/parents to stay involved. Attend the school board meetings and demand answers through the whole process.

We stopped the madness of the superfund school, but who knows what the "plans" are for the middle school and how much wasteful spending and pay for play is going on with that.

A figure discussed at the school board meeting is $68 million plus the cost of land - rumor to be the Meadowbrook Golf Course.

So, stay on their trail. Let Schwab and the rest know that we are watching and still looking for answers because it is our money they are spending!

Anonymous said...

What's happening to the school districts plant to acquire the golf corse by eminent domain?

And of course there are the acres of practice fields available. Just how many fields are needed?

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing the taskforce to choose a ballfield won't pick a superfund site for THEIR endeavor.

Chazzey said...

All, should had trusted Dr. Noles.Do you really think he would do anything to harm the children?And all should had complain about this a long time ago.Maybe they could of had saved some money.

Anonymous said...

"Practice fields" are importint. School's don't teach children the critikal thinking skills needed to compeat. The prioritee of the public skool system is to raise a bunch of mindliss followers who don't read, dont' think, dont' make waves. And can play follow the leader get my drift.

Schools of today, perhaps because their teaching staff were products of the 60's, churn out model US citizens who keep big business in business by focusing their time and money on useless items of instant gratification.

Thank God for the educated professional people of East Vincent who can still think and choose not to play Follow the Leader. I read a post on another blog that criticized parents for sending their children to local private schools. THAT deserves criticism? If more parents could afford the tuition, there would be no need to build new public schools.

Ed Jones said...

Yes, things are different today. When I went to school:
The band practiced on the football field.
The football team practiced on the football field.
The track team practiced on the track.
The baseball team practiced on the baseball field.
The basketball team practiced in the gymnasium.
And all in after school hours.

No one needed a special practice field. They practiced on the field in which they were going to play.

And for some reason they respected their coaches and teachers. Was it due to greater discipline in school or at home?

And all of the students were better educated when then graduated than what seems to be the case now.

Anonymous said...

Parents who send their kids to private schools not only pay tuition for that private school but also continue paying their school taxes. In exchange for the taxes they pay, the public school is required to transport their child to their private school as long as the private school is within 10 miles of the public school district border. If the private school is beyond 10 miles, the parents have to provide the transportation. School districts should be making out on transporting private school kids to their private schools considering my taxes are close to $5,000 per year. Public school kids get an entire education for that price including transportation. Just remember that private school families pay that same school tax and because so, should get something for it. A small bus ride is no burden to the public school district.