POTTSTOWN PA – “The devil is in the details,” Pottsgrove School District Business Administrator David Nester regularly reminds its Board of School Directors. And as Nester has rummaged through details of last week’s state budget address by Gov. Tom Corbett, he told board members Tuesday (Feb. 14, 2012) he’s discovered a roughly $3.2 million devil.
That’s how much money the state Department of Education promised, back in 2010, to partially compensate Pottsgrove for the $16 million debt it incurred in rebuilding and expanding Ringing Rocks Elementary School on Kauffman Road. The so-called PlanCon money hasn’t yet been paid by the state and now, under the Corbett budget unveiled Feb. 7, the potential exists it could stiff the district for that amount.
Nester announced the Education Department last year ran out of money for PlanCon, the lengthy and paperwork-filled process for planning and construction of public schools statewide. Corbett’s budget calls for a one-year moratorium on new PlanCon submissions, Nester said, and casts doubt upon the future of payments approved but not banked.
“I don’t know whether or not we’ll receive any compensation from the state for building Ringing Rocks,” he reported.
If the PlanCon cash falls through, district taxpayers might end up paying the $3.2 million, about 20 percent more of Ringing’s cost than they were told to anticipate. “It’d be a substantial amount to deal with,” Nester warned.
Worse yet, he added, there are indications the moratorium could be lengthened beyond a year, and perhaps indefinitely. Such a move probably would not affect Pottsgrove during the next few years. However, members of the Pottstown school board learned to their dismay – also Tuesday – that the moratorium will force them to re-think plans to close one of Pottstown’s five elementary schools and add classrooms on to others.
- Read a story by reporter Evan Brant on the Pottstown school dilemma, titled “Corbett budget skewers Pottstown elementary school plans” and published Wednesday (Feb. 15) in The (Pottstown PA) Mercury newspaper, here.
The Education Department officially takes the position that it has made no commitment for PlanCon payments until its money is actually delivered, according to Nester. He doesn’t think that argument can stand, and hints other districts with more owed than Pottsgrove probably would challenge such a contention in court, if it persists.
“We just have to wait and see how it shakes out,” he said after the meeting.
Nester also confirmed for the board earlier reports that Pottsgrove otherwise made out “as positively as we could have hoped” in preliminary estimates of state budget funding for the 2012-2013 school year. Under Corbett’s plan to consolidate four different, formula-based revenue streams into a single block grant, Pottsgrove could receive between $70,000 and $100,000 more in education and other subsidies than initially expected, Nester said.
Again, however, he warned all was not what it seemed. In future years, the grant structure abandons automatic funding increases tied to inflation or other rising costs. So if the district pays more for busing of either public or private students because fuel prices spike higher, or if it employs more teachers, it won’t necessarily win the extra state financial support it depended on in the past.
Related (to Ringing Rocks Elementary School renovations):
- State Suspends $3.2M In Ringing Rocks’ Reimbursement
- Ringing’s Big Move Now Follows Tuesday’s Big Snip-Snip
- Pottsgrove Shows Off Its Newest Jewel, Ringing Rocks
- Pottsgrove Opens Ringing Rocks Tonight For Tours
- Pottsgrove Plans Open House At New Ringing Rocks
- Color Him White With Anger Over Pottsgrove Vandalism
- Hear That? It’s The Ticking Deadline Clock At Ringing
- Ringing Rocks Delivery Could Be On Santa’s Wishlist
- Pottsgrove Board Tours, And Likes, Progress At Ringing
- No Power For Ringing Library Computers ‘An Omission’
- Blasting A Possibility, But Not Yet, At Ringing Rocks
- Few Change Orders, So Far, At Ringing Rocks
- Rigs Arrive At Ringing Site To Drill Deep For Geo-Heat
- Exterior Demolition To Begin At Ringing Rocks
- Digging’s Done, Now Real Work Starts At Ringing
- Ringing Rocks Ground-Breaking Set For Thursday
- After Month’s Work, Pius Deemed Set For Ringing Pupils
- Ringing Rocks Bids Accepted, At $1.5 Million Less
- Final Words On Ringing Rocks: Okey-Dokey
- Ringing Rocks Gets Final Plan OK
- Borrowing Authorized For Ringing Rocks Project
- Pottsgrove Signs Pius Lease For Ringing Students
- Pottsgrove Authorizes Pius Lease For Ringing Relocation
- Call Goes Out For Ringing Rocks Construction Bids
- Board OKs Ringing Rocks’ Preliminary Plans
- School Vestibule Design OK; No Decision On Rocks’ Relocation
- Ringing Rocks Plan Approval Held Until May
- Ringing Relocation Decision Deferred Again
- Township Legal Move Saves District Time, Money
- Economic Tales, Exec Sessions, And Long Night At Pottsgrove
- Geothermal Now ‘Locked’ Into Ringing Re-Build
- How Estimated Costs For Ringing Shape Up
- Less Is More In School Project, Planners Learn
- Bids Sought For Ringing Project Asbestos Removal
- Ringing Relocation Decision Possible In Two Weeks
- Restaurant, Ringing Projects Win Conditional Uses
- Ringing Rocks, Restaurant Hearing Topics Tonight
- Pottsgrove Student Enrollment: Up? Yes. Down? Yes Again
- Green Discussion At Ringing Results In Red Faces
- Pottsgrove, Archdiocese Still Discussing Pius Lease
- Ringing Rocks Relocation Discussion Set For Tonight
- In The Ringing Rebuild, Whither Pius?
- Ringing Rocks Relocation Plan: Modulars At MS
- Ringing Rocks Construction Cost Hearing Tonight
- Planners OK Ringing Rocks Land Sketch
- District Sets Dec. 3 Hearing On Rocks Budget
- Pottsgrove Asks State Help To Pay For Ringing Re-Build
- As School Opens, Progress On Ringing Rocks’ Project
- Surprise Enrollment Spurs Demographic Interest
- District Assembles Ringing Rocks Planning Team
- District OKs Architect Negotiations
- Consensus On Ringing Renovations: $16M
- Ringing Rocks Proposals Aired Tuesday
- Ringing Rocks Re-Examined April 14
- Pottsgrove To Trust-But-Verify On Ringing Plans
- Ringing Rocks Plans Take Another Step
- No Shortage Of Ideas At Pottsgrove Meeting
- Weigh In On Pottsgrove Renovations
- Framing The Rocks Discussion
- Response Mixed To Pottsgrove Improvements
- District Invites Public For Study Results
- A Different Rocks, But Only As A Concept
Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Feb. 14 meeting):