Spring-Ford School Board discusses wellness center rumors, arboretum renewal progress

ROYERSFORD — The Spring-Ford Area School Board addressed rumors in the community regarding a potential health and wellness center project and also provided an update on the progress of the district’s arboretum.

According to board Vice President Joe Ciresi, a rumor has circulated throughout the community that the board sought to use $8 million in taxpayer money for a district health and wellness center.

“There’s been conversations due to the lack of expansion we were left with from previous administrations and boards that we may have to expand certain parts of the locker room and weight room facilities (at the high school),” Ciresi said at a May 28 meeting. “There was an ongoing conversation about building a health and wellness center which would cost roughly $8 million.”

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More than a year-and-a-half ago, it was decided by the board to pause moving forward on the proposed health and wellness center because of budgetary concerns.

“We’ve said over and over and over and over and over and over again that we would not build it, that we would look for outside money to build it and not raise taxes,” Ciresi said.

Private money is being sought for the project rather than the district’s own funds.

At a May 20 board workshop meeting, Ciresi said the center would be a place that would be worked into the curriculum for students looking to go into medical fields.

“It will not be a workout facility,” he said at that meeting.

Ciresi attributed the rumors to election season.

The chairman of the board’s property committee, Ciresi said expansion of the high school’s locker and weight rooms is an “ongoing conversation” at May 28’s meeting.

Additionally, Ciresi said the property committee discussed progress in the renewal of the arboretum located behind the district’s 9th Grade Center which began last year and is being helmed by community member Gail Wellington.

“That was an overgrown area for many, many years,” Ciresi said. “I think if you ever see her you should thank her because oft he amazing work she’s been doing out there and she’s raising most of the funds on her own.”

According to the district, the arboretum was established in the 1970s as a memorial area for district alumni and community members. It fell into disrepair in recent years but Wellington spearheaded efforts to raise funds and redesign the area with the help of Spring-Ford School District and Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center students.

“It’s kind of amazing to see the transformation and knowing that 90 percent of the work was done by the students in the Spring-Ford (Area) School District and the Western Center, as well,” said board President Tom DiBello at the May 28 meeting. “It’s an incredible feeling to see what these kids are accomplishing.”

DiBello said $150,000 worth of materials and work have been done strictly through volunteers and donations.

No district funds have yet to be used on the project.

Ciresi said he hopes for a presentation later in the summer to “show the transition.”

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.