PENNSBURG, Pa. (CBS) — After a new school board was sworn in Monday night in the Upper Perkiomen School District, it immediately voted to terminate construction on a $60 million new middle school.

Construction was underway as the groundbreaking for the new middle school in Pennsburg was held on Oct. 26, which newly elected board member Melanie Cunningham points out was just two weeks before an election where the project had become a major issue.

“All along we’ve been going to meetings, asking them to slow down, wait, let the public have their say,” said Cunningham.

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Cunningham was in the majority of the 5-4 decision to shut down the project, saying she feels the tens of millions of dollars earmarked for the new school would be better spent elsewhere.

“We didn’t feel we needed the school,”said Cunningham.

Upwards of $10 million has already been put into the project.

“Because they terminated the contracts all together, all of that money will be wasted,” resident Labrea Huff said.

Hope Manion, a mother with two elementary school kids in the district, is stunned by the sudden school board decision.

“This was going to alleviate three schools’ worth of overcrowding problems,” said Manion.

Now she and many other parents in the district worry their kids will continue to be in an overcrowded school system, while paying for all the costs associated with stopping a project like this in its tracks.

“We will be spending $20, $30, $40 million for a big hole in the ground. We will address none of the problems  in our school district,” Manion added.

The new majority on the school board wants to reinvest money into academics and other areas of education.

When Cunningham was asked what the exact plan was, she admits there isn’t one yet and that the board has no idea the total cost that will come from Monday night’s decision.

When Cunningham was also asked about whether she was concerned about the contractors hired suing, she responded, “I can’t talk about that, I don’t know. There could be possible litigation.”

There is no timeline at this point for when the school board, the school district and taxpayers in the Upper Perkiomen School District will know exactly much money was wasted on attempting to build a new middle school.

While it’s unclear exactly where the district goes from here, they hope the lesson here is how important it is to pay attention to local issues and politics.

Comments (4)
  1. There IS a termination clause which states the project can be stopped at any time for any reason at the district’s convenience. They don’t need to return the land back to a swamp, they did land improvements. They put drainage where there was a swamp. That’s just a stupid talking point. I’m not sure where you got the $17 million if the board members can’t even get a straight answer as to how much was spent. Another talking point?? The students in the current MS deserve to have their issues addressed NOW not in 3 yrs after the new school is built. What overcrowding? There is 1 more student then they had in 1994 and that was BEFORE all the additions. Get a grip and then get some facts.

  2. Plenty of empty buildings elsewhere they can use. I’m tired of all the waste “for the children”.

  3. The new board (Cunningham, Cunningham, Drake and Glackin) won the election on a campaign based on lies. Their slogan was to STOP the new middle school, and save local tax payers from the 50 million dollar school. They neglected to explain the ramifications of terminating the project. We will get sued by every contractor. There are NO exit clauses. We will pay a TON of legal fees. They have to return the land on Montgomery Avenue back to its original state, that will cost additional money. Plus the 17 million we have already spent. That’s before any upgrades to the curriculum, fixing the old Middle School which is in complete disarray, and adding an addition to one of the local elementary schools that are currently over crowded. But I am sure they can come up with all that money without increasing any of our taxes.

    1. Sure, throw good money after bad.. I’m sure YOU have a stake in this boondoggle. Are you a teacher who thinks 20 kids in a class is “overcrowding”?

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