NORRISTOWN — Montgomery County officials renewed a $945,000 contract in order to assist with voting services related to an upcoming special election for the North Penn School District.
The agreement between the Montgomery County Office of Voter Services and NPC Inc., of Claysburg, Blair County, covered “ballot printing and mailing services,” according to the contract.
As the fourth of five renewal options, the contract covered election services concerning the North Penn area, with the previously issued request for proposal concerning the “2024 North Penn special, primary and general elections.”
There was $45,000 will be designated for the upcoming special election, according to the contract. There’s also $450,000 stipulated for the primary election and $450,000 allocated for the general election. Funds were obtained through the county’s general-operational budget.
“Election costs will be fully reimbursed by North Penn School District,” the contract states.
A special election is slated to take place on Jan. 16, 2024. Eligible residents will have the opportunity to cast their vote in a referendum about borrowing roughly $97 million to move ninth-graders to the high school.
North Penn School District school board members set the date during an October school board meeting. Lansdale resident Margaret Burke advocated that matriculating ninth graders into the high school is crucial.
Burke brought up the matter during the public comment of a Montgomery County Board of Commissioners meeting on Dec. 14. She told county commissioners she was “embarrassed to say” that North Penn School District was the “only school district in the county that doesn’t have their ninth graders up at the high school.”
She added that the move would take a major step toward renovating the educational facility built back in the early 1970s to be more inclusive and accessible for students.
“The building is old and too tight and unsafe with people with disabilities,” she said, adding “I hope everybody will vote yes so that our ninth graders can be brought up to the high school environment, and so that the entire building can be renovated, and made appropriate for everybody so there’s more space to move around.”
“With just refurbishments, that’s not sufficient to widen the hallways, and make it safe for people with disabilities like my child, who roam(s) the halls of North Penn High School,” Burke continued. “So please, everybody vote yes.”
Along with moving ninth graders onto the campus at 1340 S. Valley Forge Road, other proposed redevelopment plans would include adding another driveway to create access to nearby Sumneytown Pike, as well as a new gym and commons area —if the referendum goes forward.
Two options were presented by the Schrader Group earlier this fall. The first is a more than $400 million undertaking that would include roughly 313,000 square feet worth of additions for the ninth graders and the renovation of roughly 496,000 square feet of the existing school. A second option focusing solely on renovations would cost roughly $236 million.
Referencing the upcoming referendum, outgoing Montgomery County Commissioners’ Chairman Ken Lawrence Jr. stressed that those residing within the geographic boundaries of the North Penn School District are permitted to vote. There were 105,455 people considered residents of the district as of 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“I just want to note too that is only for residents of the North Penn School District,” Lawrence said. “Residents of North Penn, and I’m of course a proud North Penn Knight, but do not live in the school district.”