2015-08-11 Regular Legislative Meeting: Cedarbrook Cost Exceeds $50 Million

Permalink2015-08-11Live Recording


At this meeting, Dr. Wagner Marseille announced that, "The original budget that has been proposed (for Cedarbrook) by the board of 50 million Dollars—we are over that budget based on the schematic design that was shared with us by the architects. And programming had a large part to do with that...."

Prior to posting this podcast, I checked with the other "stakeholder group" that does not seem to matter in this process: the taxpayers. Specifically, I checked on those who are unfortunate enough to have been hauled into court for not paying their school tax. Looking at the Cheltenham School District July/August Municipal Liens listed on the Montgomery County Court website, I found a bumper crop of cases.

One of Montco July tax cases (Case #2015-15473) involves an individual with the same name as a current member of the Cheltenham School Board. It is NOT confirmed that a member of the Cheltenham School Board is suffering in court from a tax lien, but if it is true we can only hope that it inspires the rest of the board to keep the costs of Cedarbrook from increasing the sad harvest of tax liens..

Cheltenham School District Tax Liens for July/August 2015
(click on the "Continue without logging in" link to view the case)
Case# 2015-15343 Case# 2015-15361 Case# 2015-15367 Case# 2015-15371
Case# 2015-15377 Case# 2015-15392 Case# 2015-15396 Case# 2015-15406
Case# 2015-15409 Case# 2015-15415 Case# 2015-15423 Case# 2015-15427
Case# 2015-15447 Case# 2015-15461 Case# 2015-15466 Case# 2015-15469
Case# 2015-15473 Case# 2015-15524 Case# 2015-17544 Case# 2015-20267
Case# 2015-20272 Case# 2015-20279 Case# 2015-20353 Case# 2015-20579
Case# 2015-20899 Case# 2015-21430 Case# 2015-21754 Case# 2015-22153
Case# 2015-22166 Case# 2015-22651

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-08-111Regular Legislative Meeting Part 1 of 2
2015-08-112Regular Legislative Meeting Part 2 of 2

2015-08-11Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-08-11Meeting Agenda
2015-08-11July 2015 Exp Summary
2015-08-11July 2015 Revenue
2015-08-11Extra Duty Extra Pay Agenda 8 11 15
2015-08-11Proposed Athletic Event Staff Fees 2015-2016 (1)
2015-08-11August 2015 Clearances for Board
2015-08-11Budget Transfers

2015-08-04 Facilities/Finance Committee Meetings-- Cedarbrook: Architectural Mission Creep ?

Permalink2015-08-04Live Recording


The Facilities Committee Meeting features a presentation by the architects on the Cedarbrook reconstruction project (Unfortunately, a link to this presentation was not available at press time). As usual the building and site plan was discussed in eye-glazing detail. We were assured that the design is evolving with input from "stakeholder groups."

A member of the public, Mr. Fred Milbert, asked a simple question: What is the total square footage of the project ? The answer was: "I don't know."

So the architects— who just showed a detailed layout of every floor of the building, as well as driveways and landscaping— could not calculate the project total square footage ?

One useful function that the square footage number performs is it helps detect whether architectural mission creep is blowing the budget. It is a vital number needed by the one stakeholder group that does not appear to have a voice in this process: the people that have to pay for Cedarbrook.

Your podmaster has broken the public comments section of the Facilities Meeting where Mr. Milbert asks his questions into a separate recording which is recommended listening.

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-08-041Cedarbrook Comments at Facilities Committee Meeting
2015-08-042Facilities Committee Meeting
2015-08-043Finance Committee Meeting

2015-08-04Facilities/Finance Committee Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-08-04Facilities 8/15 presentation without Architect presentation
2015-08-04Finance 8/15 Presentation

2015-07-21 Special Meeting

Permalink2015-07-21Live Recording


Just when Cheltenham Taxpayers thought they were finished paying two school superintendent salaries (ex-Superintendent Dr. Natalie Thomas has finally received the last of her $180,000 yearly salary as of 6/30/2015), approval was given at this meeting to retain the services of
Acting Superintendent Dr. William Kiefer,"as a consultant for real estate matters." It was not stated at the meeting how long Dr. Kiefer will remain.

This meeting was the first one of new Superintendent Dr. Wagner Marseille.

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-07-211Special Meeting

2015-07-21Special Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-07-21Meeting Agenda
2015-07-21EDEP Agenda 7 21 15 Final Sheet1
2015-07-21July 2015 Clearances for Board
2015-07-212015-2016 Adacemic Calendar Revised 7-21-2015

Montco School Tax Comparison Update

Permalink2014-08-05Tax Analysis


2015-06-14Montco School Tax Comparison Update 20150614

The district has made a big deal that other districts in the County have had to raise school taxes. For example, this slide from the 6/2/15 Finance Committee Meeting:

Lest you worry that the other districts may catch up to Cheltenham-- having the dubious honor of the highest school tax rate in the county--- the chart shown below of all Montgomery County municipal school taxes as a percentage of Cheltenham's (as of 6/14/2015) shows they have much catching up to do.

The top 5 rates below Cheltenham are:

Tax RankMunicipalityTax on $143K MedianMills% of Cheltenham Tax
3West/Upper/Lower Pottsgrove$536437.509584.26%
5West/East Norriton & Norristown$465832.572073.17%
6Lower Moreland$451631.583170.95%

DateWeb Link
2015-06-146/2/15 Finance Committee Meeting Presentation
2015-06-14Montgomery County School Taxes
2015-06-14Montgomery County Other District School Taxes as a percentage of Cheltenham School Taxes

2015-06-09 Regular Legislative Meeting in 2 Separate Recordings

Permalink2015-06-09Live Recording

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-06-091Regular Legislative Meeting Part 1 of 2
2015-06-092Regular Legislative Meeting Part 2 of 2

2015-06-09Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-06-09May 2015 Exp Summary
2015-06-09Wagner Marseille, Ed.D. District Superintendent Contract
2015-06-09Kenneth Roos, Esq./Wisler Pearlstine, LLP, Solicitor Rates
2015-06-09Budget Transfers
2015-06-09May 2015 Rev
2015-06-09P359 459 559 Nondiscrimination in Employment 6 9 15 Second Read
2015-06-09257 Suicide Prevent and Self-Harming Behavior 6 9 15 Second Read
2015-06-09814 copyright material 6 9 15 Second Read
2015-06-09EDEP Agenda 6 9 15 Final v1
2015-06-09June Clearances for Board 060915

2015-06-02 Finance Committee Meeting

Permalink2015-06-02Live Recording

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-06-021Finance Committee Meeting Part 1 of 1

2015-06-02Finance Committee Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-06-02Final Budget Presentation – 6/2/2015

2015-05-12 Regular Legislative Meeting in 2 Separate Recordings

Permalink2015-05-12Live Recording


The Quiet Disapperance of Dr. Bramucci

The majority of this board meeting recording is the annual "retirement meeting" where extensive reminiscences of the retiring staff members are dwelled upon in detail. There is however appears to be a stark contrast when the staff member held an administrative position under the "previous regime."

The latest case in point is the quiet disappearance of Dr. Matthew Bramucci, whose "resignation" was accepted without comment by the board at this meeting.

Dr. Bramucci served as "Director of School Improvement Processes," a position approved at the April 8, 2014 Regular Legislative Board Meeting with an annual 2014-2015 salary of $130,000. Dr. Thomas was the superintendent at the time.

Flash forward to the February 10, 2015 Regular Legislative Board Meeting when the board voted for the "elimination of the position of Director of School Improvement Processes effective June 30, 2015 end of workday."

So at this meeting, the board voted to accept the "resignation" of Dr. Bramucci, Director of School Improvement Processes, effective May 4, 2015 (which was quite convenient since the position terminates on June 30, 2015).

The question from a taxpayer perspective is: Did we need a $130,000 "Director of School Improvement Processes" in the first place ?

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-05-121Regular Legislative Meeting Part 1 of 2
2015-05-122Regular Legislative Meeting Part 2 of 2

2015-05-12Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-05-12April 2015 Exp Summary
2015-05-12April 2015 Revenue
2015-05-12StratPlan Application 5-4-15 DN
2015-05-12Substitute Rates 7 1 2015 Proposed
2015-05-12EDEP 5 12 15 Agenda Final (1)
2015-05-12Revised May 2015 Volunteers

2015-05-05 Cedarbrook Middle School Rebuild Design Concepts Meeting

Permalink2015-05-05Live Recording

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-05-051Cedarbrook Middle School Rebuild Design Concepts Meeting

2015-05-05Cedarbrook Middle School Rebuild Design Concepts Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-05-05Cedarbrook Rebuild GAI Design Concept

Abington Proud vs Cheltenham Proud



2015-04-19Abington Proud vs Cheltenham Proud

At last Tuesday's board meeting, it was mentioned that some township residents were getting annoyed by the large number of "Proud to be in Abington" bumper stickers seen driving through our township and that a "Cheltenham Proud" response would be forthcoming.

I thought it would be interesting to compare the School Performance Profile, Building Level Academic Score (BLAS) between Abington and Cheltenham to compare bragging rights:

BLAS ScoreDistrictSchool
97.8Abington SDHighland School
93.7Abington SDAbington Senior High Sch
93.1Abington SDRydal East School
91.3Cheltenham SDCedarbrook MS
90.9Cheltenham SDGlenside El Sch
88.5Abington SDRoslyn School
87.4Abington SDMcKinley School
87.2Abington SDOverlook School
87.0Abington SDAbington JHS
86.2Abington SDWillow Hill School
85.7Abington SDCopper Beech
85.1Cheltenham SDMyers El Sch
80.3Cheltenham SDCheltenham EL
74.0Cheltenham SDCheltenham High Sch
72.1Cheltenham SDElkins Park Sch

There is one area in which Cheltenham has the highest "score" in the county:

School DistrictSchool MillsTax Bill on $143K Assessed Home

2015-04-14 Regular Legislative Meeting in 2 Separate Recordings

Permalink2015-04-14Live Recording

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-04-141Regular Legislative Meeting Part 1 of 2
2015-04-142Regular Legislative Meeting Part 2 of 2

2015-04-14Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-04-14Meeting Agenda
2015-04-14Preliminary Budget PDE-2028-Preliminary
2015-04-14facilities committee_april_2015_presentation
2015-04-14March 2015 Expense Summary
2015-04-14March 2015 Revenue
2015-04-14P921 Public relations objectives 3 3 15 (01037150xAED82) (01052023xAED82)
2015-04-14Extra Duty Extra Pay 4 14 15 Agenda Final
2015-04-14April Volunteer Clearances 2015