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West Career Center Floats Capital Budget Plan

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Who will pay, how much, and for what? Those age-old questions seem to arise whenever the Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center – which is jointly operated by the Pottsgrove, Spring-Ford Area, and Upper Perkiomen school districts – faces a need for money. They surfaced again Thursday (March 16, 2017) as the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors learned the center hopes to create a capital reserve fund.

Director Patti Grimm, who also chairs the center’s Joint Operating Committee, reported the fund is being considered as the educational complex on Graterford Road in Limerick approaches its 10th anniversary of reconstruction. The center was rebuilt during 2009, she noted, and the committee is trying to anticipate how it will pay for future equipment failures or other capital needs. Having a savings pool on hand seemed worthwhile, she said.

Center officials are worried that if one of several pieces of equipment “go down” within the next five or so years “and has got to be replaced, we’ll be faced with an unexpected and significant bill,” explained director Robert Lindgren, who with Grimm and board member Ashley Custer represent Pottsgrove on the committee. Instituting a capital fund could “minimize a shock to the system,” Lindgren said.

The center’s annual budget, which must be approved by all three districts, normally pays for capital costs from its working funds, Pottsgrove Business Administrator David Nester said. Solicitor Marc Davis observed the budget is funded proportionally by each district, based on an annual assessment attributable in part to the number of its students the center serves. Spring-Ford pays the largest portion of that annual cost.

Director Rick Rabinowitz believes the value of the fund hinges on whether or not the assessment formula will also determine how much each district pays into it. If the payments were proposed as equal, and not proportional, “then it’s not in our interest to establish” one, he said. “The minute we end up paying more than we currently do, that’s when I’d object.”

Grimm claimed the issue was in discussion stages only, and no specific details have been suggested.

Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ March 16 meeting:

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