High school graduation moves to Santander Arena
Safety concerns at stadium prompt school board decision on venue
Due to unresolved questions about the safety of the high school stadium, the Boyertown Area School Board has voted to move the June 7 high school graduation to the Santander Arena in downtown Reading.
The March 13 vote was by a 7-2 margin, with board members Ruth Dierolf and Christine Neiman voting against the move.
Before the vote, board President Donna Usavage said the administration and facilities committee had looked into the question and determined that not only was the Santander option the least expensive, it was actually a little less expensive than holding it on school grounds.
Neiman disputed this, saying the district would be paying the custodians regardless of where the graduation was held and their salaries should not be included in the cost calculation.
“It’s a very sad day,” said Neiman, who argued that holding the graduation in town was a boost to Boyertown merchants. “Now people will spend money in another community.”
Neiman also asked, “how do we guarantee someone won’t get hurt up there?”
Dierolf said she could not support the change. “My constituents want it at an education facility.”
The educational facility at which the annual high school graduation ceremony is usually held, however, is under some scrutiny.
A preliminary report released Jan. 30 outlined structural problems at the 33-year-old stadium, most of which are due to penetration by water.
According to the report, the stadium, which has seating capacity for 2,800 and was built with a concerted community effort in1985, now suffers from numerous dangerous conditions.
Since it was built, the stadium has been used for graduation cer-
emonies although, as an outdoor facility with limited parking and seating capacity, it has at times posed challenges on rainy graduation days and limiting tickets to seven per graduate.
Board member Brandon Foose said that he hopes repairs to the stadium can be complete in time for the 2019 graduation, noting that 92 percent of the students polled favored the Santander Arena option.
Board member Clay Breece said he was pleased that using Santander Arena would not cost additional money, but noted that with the venue being almost 20 miles away, that fewer people would attend the graduation ceremony.
A report by Barry Issett & Assoc. on stadium repairs concludes that “the entire section of wall along the track is unsafe and a potential hazard.”
Among other problems the report cited, water has penetrated into the superstructure of the stadium.