The Upper Perkiomen School Board said last Thursday they will look into the district’s rising enrollment and what options they may have for the future.
In talk prompted by School Board Director John Gehman at the close of the meeting, administrators told the board enrollment is up again this year. Transportation and pupil services director Karen Henry said true numbers won’t be ready for several weeks, but the district registered 26 new students in just the past eight days – kindergarten on up to high school.
And, as of the meeting, there was still more than two weeks left to register students.
“We have nothing prepared for rising enrollments,” said Gehman. “Is this just a bubble?”
District Superintendent Dr. Beth Yonson said no, numbers have been up since last year.
And the board’s previous concerns about Northgate, an Upper Hanover development of single-family homes on up to stacked townhouses, are growing. While the district redistricted portions of Upper Perkiomen this spring to move some future students to Marlborough Elementary from Hereford Elementary, more may have to be done.
Northgate resident Mike Elliot said T.H. Properties, the developer of Northgate, is also trying to get the age-restricted portion of the community reduced to allow for more townhomes, which, in turn, would likely boost Upper Perkiomen’s enrollment even further.
Upper Hanover Township Manager Stan Seitzinger said Monday T.H. Properties did successfully petition the township within the past two years to have 15 of the original 60 age-restricted units in the development changed to non-age-restricted with the same lot size and floor plan.
He said the planning commission was scheduled to meet with T.H. Properties’ co-founder Tim Hendricks earlier this month but that meeting was cancelled due to an illness. The commission will likely take the topic under consideration in September, he said. The board of supervisors will await a recommendation from the planning commission on the issue before they make a decision, Seitzinger said.
Upper Perkiomen previously had a deal with T.H. Properties to purchase 18 acres of land in Northgate for a potential new school, but that deal fell through when the developer declared bankruptcy in April 2009, said Business Administrator Sandy Kassel.
She said the company declared bankruptcy two days before settlement and while the district did get its down money back, it took “a long time.”
Board members said they would be willing to explore options with that parcel again.
“We have to look at the land at Northgate and see what we need to do to anticipate our needs,” Yonson said.
Director Bill Scott said he remembered a demographic study by the Pennsylvania Economy League which proved to be pretty accurate to date when it was performed about 10 years ago. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Fran Leskowicz said he would look into the possibility of getting another study done which would aid the district in future planning.
In other district news, Gehman said he wanted to look at numbers for outsourcing custodial and maintenance staff again soon.
“We didn’t do ourselves any favors tabling custodial outsourcing,” he said. “Sometime at a finance committee meeting I’d like to look at those numbers closer for budget time.”
“I don’t disagree that we’ll have to look at it again, so we might as well start now,” said Scott, noting the board said the issue would likely surface again.
Scott’s resignation as president of the school board was rejected by a 5-2 vote at the meeting as his colleagues asked him to reconsider serving in that capacity for the remainder of the year.
“You said you did a poor job and I have to disagree with that,” Gehman said. “I’ve seen presidents do not as good a job, especially with the contentious meetings we’ve had lately. I think Bill did a stellar job and I’d rather you stay on, too, for the three new (incoming) board members for continuity.”
Director Jeff Feirick said he appreciated Scott’s leadership and experience.
Scott said he would be willing to continue as president.
“Reflecting on it, July recharged the batteries for me. I feel reinvigorated by you folk not accepting my resignation and picking me up. Thank you.”
“I would like to thank you for staying on as president,” said Marlborough resident Marguerite Devers. “You do a good job because you really care about these students.”
The board also approved hiring Timothy Chorones as assistant principal at Upper Perk Middle School. Chorones, a unanimous choice by the hiring committee, replaces Arthur Vigilante. Vigilante moved to the position of assistant principal at Upper Perk High School as Matthew Sokol Jr. resigned. Sokol is moving on to the Whitehall-Coplay School District, Yonson said.
As of Monday Scott said the contract with the Upper Perkiomen Education Association is still in negotiations. That contract expired June 30 but educators, under association president Bob LaSalle, said they will be at work on the first teachers’ day Aug. 19. Students start school Aug. 26.