WRIGHT TWP. — Crestwood School District Superintendent Joseph Gorham has scheduled a “press conference” for Wednesday afternoon, a little bit more than 24 hours before the next school board meeting.
The board meeting is set for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the secondary center media room, and the press conference set for 4:15 p.m. Wednesday in the same location. Both come amid a mounting push spearheaded by teacher union president Bill Kane questioning district spending priorities.
Kane sent out an email urging residents to attend Thursday’s meeting and “say no more” to the School Board’s “out-of-control spending.” He contends the board is poised to furlough teachers while spending millions on unnecessary items like a field house and auditorium renovations.
Gorham has countered at length, offering a PowerPoint presentation that outlines 10 years of what he contends have been budgetary pressures not of the district’s making. He points to the Great Recession and then-Gov. Ed Rendell’s decision to use federal stimulus money to plug state education funding holes, followed by Rendell’s successor Gov. Tom Corbett slashing state education spending.
Gorham also cites rapidly escalating payments for teacher pension funds set annually by a state agency, not the district, flat-state funding for kindergarten and special education even after pro-education Gov. Tom Wolf took office in 2015, and mounting losses of state money being siphoned off by charter schools, particularly cyber charters.
Gorham has also noted the money on renovations and constructions comes from a bond issued expressly for capital projects, meaning by law it cannot be transferred into the genera fund . Kane counters that the money could be spent on more important items like security upgrades, and that projects could be scaled back and the saved money used to repay the bond sooner.
The two have also clashed on a proposal to re-align elementary grades from two K-6 schools to one primary center covering K-3 and an intermediate center housing 4-6 and pre-K.