North Penn School Board hears community input at facilities forum

The NP community had the chance to comment about facility needs at a community forum Tuesday evening.


Sameera Rachakonda

NPSB HEARS FROM COMMUNITY: Pennbrook teacher Dianne Guihan-McTamney expresses input regarding NPSD facilities at public forum.

NORTH WALES- In replacement of the monthly work session meeting, the North Penn School Board held a facilities forum at Pennbrook middle school where community members had the chance to hear presentations regarding renovations and contribute their own input.

Support Services Board members Tina Stoll, Juliane Ramić, and Jonathan Kassa sat with architect David Schrader, Director of Facilities and Operations Scott Kennedy, and Chief Financial Officer Steve Skrocki. The event was moderated by Superintendent Dr. Curt Dietrich who roamed the auditorium for questions from community members while North Penn High School student Erik Jesberger read questions sent through NPTV and Facebook where the forum was broadcasted live.

Sameera Rachakonda
Superintendent Dr. Curt Dietrich taking questions and comments from community members.

The forum began with presentations from Kennedy, Schrader, and Skrocki as they addressed Crawford stadium, maintenance needs, and financial impacts.

Kennedy presented the renovations for Crawford stadium which would amount to around $5 million.

Schrader discussed the maintenance needed for site, building, electrical and lighting, HVAC, plumbing and fire protection, safety and security, and technology at Knapp, Penndale, North Penn High School, and the Educational Services Center. All had similar issues with drainage, ADA upgrades, HVAC, roofing, etc. with the exception of the ESC where roofing was replaced two years ago.

Both construction and soft costs amount to $19 million for Knapp, $45 million for Penndale, $138 million for the high school, and $5 million for the ESC.

Schrader also discussed enrollment to capacity issues in how Knapp is functioning at 120% capacity when the modulars are removed. In addition, he presented 21st century designs to mold the construction of buildings around educational/teaching systems where the goal is to separate community spaces such as the cafeteria and gymnasium from classrooms in order to use the space both day and night.

Budgets for Knapp range from $28-44 million depending on the decision to complete just renovations or renovations and new construction. For Penndale, budgets range from $45-58 million, or up to $59-75 million with escalated estimates. For NPHS, budgets range from $138-148 million, or up to $167-$176 million with escalated estimates.

Skrocki discussed the general fund and capital reserve fund. He talked about the current budget deficit of $2,744,813, and explained how project financing typically comes from municipal bonds. Skrocki also discussed the outstanding debt of $120 million, and how predicated on the highest costs for Knapp, debt would increase to $444 million.

For the homeowner, an assessed average value of $148,000 would amount to additional taxes of $2,084 over a 22 year period.

Superintendent Dr. Curt Dietrich took questions and comments from the community. Several parents talked about allergies and issues due to the fact that many buildings don’t have air conditioning. Many parents and faculty in the audience expressed strong support for the renovations.

“At the $300,000 house assessment, it would cost the homeowner $192 a year to replace and fix up what we have. Anybody here not willing to spend $192 dollars a year to help your kids?” one parent questioned.

There were questions about prioritizing the projects, context for the 21st century decision, and the caution to take to make sure there is not a deficit every year so that the general fund stays intact.

I consider the long-term plan a living document, one we prioritize every year,”

— Scott Kennedy

“I consider the long-term plan a living document, one we prioritize every year,” Kennedy remarked.

“We do long-term fiscal forecasts and projections…As part of the analysis with these projects, we will continually do a balancing act to make sure our fund balance stays at appropriate levels,” said Skrocki.

Several parents expressed concern about the Knapp modular units and issues with mold which Kennedy addressed.

“We haven’t found mold growth to an extensive degree. There’s been some small, tiny spots. We’ve cut it out, removed it, and monitored the areas immediately.”

North Penn High School English teacher Kevin Manero referenced a 1971 Reporter that praised the new high school building. 

“I think we need to stick our neck out and build a new Knapp Elementary School…I’m a high school teacher, and I see a football stadium where it’s time to look at changes to make these facilities ADA compliant,” Manero remarked.

A NPHS student represented the desire of the ENACT club to help with any resources possible. Other comments were made about solar energy, needs for Pennbrook and Pennfield, and issues of air conditioning.

The Board clarified that no decisions have been made yet, nor has the Board prioritized any projects yet. The forum was the first step in hearing from the community.

“One of our goals when we ran was to be more open and transparent with the community so that is why we are having these forums. I really appreciate everyone coming out tonight. It’s a community effort. It’s all of our schools,” commented Tina Stoll.