Upper Perkiomen officials said last Thursday night they refuse to take part in talks requested by Spring-Ford school board members to change how the Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center (WMCTC) is funded.
Bill Scott, Upper Perkiomen school board director and chairman of the WMCTC’s joint operating committee (JOC), said he and other members of the committee received a letter dated Nov. 2 from Spring-Ford officials requesting a convention on the matter.
According to that letter, the purpose would be “to discuss the current articles of agreement and in particular the funding mechanism for capital improvement projects.”
Spring-Ford officials have reportedly been lobbying to change the formula for funding the general budget of the WMCTC since last spring, after an agreement was made by the three sending districts, including Pottsgrove, to fund a $40 million renovation and expansion at the facility. Those renovations were completed last year.
Under the agreement, the former capital funding formula, one of two formulas for funding the school, was amended solely for the project. Spring-Ford, Upper Perk and Pottsgrove would contribute 60 percent based on their average daily membership, or attending students, and 40 percent based on real estate market value.
According to the school’s bylaws, the capital formula is usually based only on real estate market value, which means Spring-Ford pays the lion’s share of capital costs because of their market value and corresponding tax income.
Now Spring-Ford officials want to change the general funding formula as well, officials said. That formula is based on a five-year average of average daily membership, of which Upper Perk pays the most.
“I have lost my patience with Spring-Ford, with their bullying, and with their attitude. I’m tired of reading about it in the newspaper when they won’t bring it up at the JOC,” Scott said in a report to Upper Perk’s school board. “Why Spring-Ford insists on trying to put a monkey wrench in things is beyond my imagination.”
The amended capital formula was only agreed to for that particular project, noted Scott, citing an impasse with Spring-Ford officials to get the school updated.
“It has been made clear to Spring-Ford by me and Pottsgrove that we are not interested at this time,” Scott said. “Spring-Ford is trying to bully us into an agreement. They will keep pushing and I will keep resisting and Pottsgrove will keep resisting…It was for the students and the building that that agreement was made.”
Scott said he believes market value should be a part of any regular funding formula, as is the case with the majority of vocational schools in the state.
As for the fate of the convention, which was to be held with members of all three sending districts’ school boards, Upper Perk officials said the consensus is the board will not be attending any convention on the matter at this time.