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.
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.