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PUBLIC BOARD MEETING MINUTES (WORK SESSION FOLLOWED BYPUBLIC MEETING)
NESHAMINY BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS

August 19, 2003

The Neshaminy Board of School Directors met in public session on August 19, 2003, in the Board Room 
of the District Offices, Maple Point Middle School.  The following persons were in attendance:

BOARD MEMBERS:

ADMINISTRATORS:

 

 

Mrs. June R. Bostwick, President
Mrs. Kimberly A. Jowett, Vice-President*

Mr. P. Howard Wilson
Dr. Raymond J. Boccuti

Mrs. Yvonne V. Butville
Ms. Carol A. Drioli
Mr. Richard M. Eccles
Mr. Steven E. Schoenstadt

Mr. Joseph V. Paradise

 

Mr. Michael A. Soifer**

 

Dr. William H. Spitz

 

Mr. Edward T. Stack

 

 

OTHERS:  Approximately 85 persons from the public, staff and press

 

 

SECRETARY:  Mrs. Anita E. Walls

SOLICITOR:
Thomas J. Profy, III, Esquire

*arrived at meeting  7:10 p.m.
**arrived at meeting 7:30 p.m.

 

l.    Call to Order

Mrs. Bostwick called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

2.   Pledge of Allegiance

Mrs. Bostwick requested those in attendance join in the salute to the flag.  

3.   Public Comment

Mrs. Bostwick announced that public comment at a Work Session allows for a two minute comment by each speaker and public comment would take place for twenty minutes.

Mr. Anthony Russo, Feasterville, PA advised that the public does not want a new school.  The community cannot afford a new school.  Mr. Russo advised that all of this country�s money is overseas.  Mr. Russo stated that the high school should be repaired just like individuals are doing with their homes.

 Mr. William O�Connor, Langhorne, PA stated the following:

�It appears that all of you believe that constructing a new high school would be the best use of our tax dollars.  And despite what the local newspaper has said about your methods, you are to be applauded for the manner in which you presented these plans to the public.  The problem is you weren�t prepared for the fallout.  You allowed policies and emotion to overshadow fact-based decision-making and compassion.  You became less concerned with doing what is right.

Let me offer you a quote from Abraham Lincoln:  �I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number.�

I don�t think any of you can deny that building a new high school would serve the greatest number both educationally and financially.  But I don�t think you�ve considered every consequence of not putting this District�s resources towards a new high school.

When all this is over, the opposing sides will return to their regularly scheduled lives.  For those who support new construction, they will be returning to running PTO Boards, and Spring Fairs and the concession stands at football games.  These people are the very fabric that makes those aging buildings more than just schools.  But if we won�t invest our energy and resources in their children�s schools any longer, will they? 

And what of our children?  Don�t we want our children to have a great education that propels them onto college and better careers so that they will come back to live here to raise their families?  Do you think our children will want their children to set foot in a place like that?  Will the Neshaminy legacy continue to attract people to our community?

If you don�t address this issue now, eventually somebody down the road will have to deal                 with it.  And the very people who oppose new construction now will be forced in another ten or so years to build a new school, and it will cost far in excess of $100 Million AND with higher interest rates.  These very people will want to hold someone responsible and they will blame you.

The future of the Neshaminy School District is being charted right now.  And as the many examples around us show, school districts either continue to flourish or they decay.  There really isn�t any middle ground.  Which path will you choose for our community?

Do the right thing!  Act now, and start building for tomorrow!�

Mr. Bill Linenberg, Langhorne, PA, advised that he is 85 years old and his wife is 16 years younger.  Mr. Linneberg is aware of what the newspapers have reported regarding the high school issue.  Mr. Linenberg noted that one member of the board is afraid of the Flowers Mill vote.  Mr. Linenberg noted that Flowers Mill is just a small portion of the entire district.  Mr. Linenberg stated not to be afraid that Flowers Mill would vote against a new high school.  The entire area is benefiting by the Flowers Mill taxes.  The residents of Flowers Mill do not have any children, and they are not against good schools.  If the parents are good the students will learn in the worst type of condition.

Mrs. Martha Lindner, Langhorne, PA, noted that she has played a large part in getting many of the board members elected.  Mrs. Lindner never thought that she would be standing before the Board at a meeting where she would consider the Board a runaway Board.  Mrs. Lindner stated that some members of this Board do not want to listen to the people.  The community does not want to pay for a brand new high school.  There is more then one option to solve this districts problem at the high school.  Mrs. Lindner noted that there are reconstruction and renovation options.  Mrs. Lindner noted that she is not speaking about repairs or bandaids.  Mrs. Lindner is speaking about a full renovation.  Mrs. Lindner stated that it does not need to include the 9th grade which would only increase the absolute cost of whatever is done.  Mrs. Lindner stated:  We can make our school look beautiful.  Mrs. Lindner noted that it can be done reasonably and the district does not have to throw out what it has.  Listen to the community.  There was a vote.  Mrs. Lindner requested the Board to stop the games, stop the survey and save $50,000, stop the Plancons going to the Department of Education, and stop wasting money on an architect in order to create more plans for the next step.  Mrs. Lindner noted that the Board coming in can still stop this plan. 

Mrs. Marianne OConnor, Langhorne, PA, noted that she understood that the job of the Board was to do what was in the best interest of the community.  Mrs. OConnor recalls a Board member stating that even though a new high school is the best decision, they would not vote for the new high school.  Although important decisions may not be popular with some, they need to be made.  In addressing renovation Mrs. OConnor would not want any of her children near the high school when renovations take place.  It will be impossible to contain the dust and debris that will occur, and especially the asbestos.  Mrs. OConnor questioned whether the district can pass up the low interest rates.  Mrs. OConnor noted that renovation will last about 15 years.  Mrs. OConnor stated that the Board cannot act upon who yells the loudest, but what is best for the students, community and future.

Mr. Clem Piscitelli, Langhorne, PA advised that he forwarded a fax to the Superintendent on August 13, 2003.  The fax stated:  I am truly upset and truly disappointed that upon visiting the Administration building on Monday, August 11, 2003, that the flag was not displayed.  With the minimum of at least one United States soldier being killed in Iraq every day and several more wounded shouldnt the Neshaminy School District honor and respect our military by flying the flag every day and also at every school building.  Also, the flag base at the building is rusting away.  I have made several requests over the last two plus years to get this painted.  Would you call me to discuss the flag.  Mr. Piscitelli noted that he has not received a response. 

Mr. Piscitelli was disappointed to see that Lower Southampton attendance did not receive a good grade and that out of five grades at the high school there was a warning issued for group participation and attendance.  Mr. Piscitelli hopes that the numbers that were sent in by whomever is responsible for same were the correct numbers.  Mr. Piscitelli further noted that he is for a referendum.

Mr. Howard Lindner, Langhorne, PA, stated that over a year ago he told Board members that if you do not vote for a referendum you would not be re-elected.  The last primary was the beginning.  The focus is referendum.  The Courier Times has come out with editorials stating the same thing.  With a project of this magnitude the people should have a voice.  There are some people in this building pushing for a new school.  Mr. Lindner noted that he spent 34 years in that building.  There is nothing wrong with the school structurally.  New electrical, new heating may be needed, but there is nothing wrong with the school structurally.  The tradition is the people who built this community.  The people who pay the taxes.  The people whose sons and daughters participated in the programs at Neshaminy are being chased away.  They cannot afford to pay the tax increase.  Mr. Lindner noted that the people who made this community want to remain here.  Mr. Lindner noted that the majority is against a new high school or want a referendum.  Mr. Lindner repeated once again: Give me good teachers.

Mr. Charles Lauble, Langhorne, PA, stated that a survey question should ask: Does the community have faith that this Board is going to do the right thing?  Parents and taxpayers should be given the opportunity to feed back to the school what they think about the performance and education the children are receiving.  Mr. Lauble is doing a research project for the historic association.  Mr. Thomas stated that a replica of an old school should be built so the students receive a perspective.

Mrs. Rosalind Booth, Levittown, PA, stated that she is a graduate of Neshaminy High School, her daughter graduated from the high school and her son will be attending the high school next year.  Mrs. Booth is clearly against a new school building.  Mrs. Booth noted that her home was not well maintained.  Mrs. Booth has spent the last twenty years fixing her home.  Mrs. Booth is concerned that the children are not learning that the importance is to maintain things.  The adults have neglected to take care of the high school.  Mrs. Booth noted that people in the area could help with refurbishing the building and it does not need to take place all at once.  Mrs. Booth would like to see that the children are taught to take care of something that is broken down.  They will need this life lesson when they move into their own homes.  Teach our children more than when it is broken down get a new one.

Mrs. Donna Esposito, Langhorne, PA, stated that she voted in the May primary, but the only candidate running was a pro-referendum candidate in her region.  Mrs. Esposito chose not to vote for a school board candidate in the primary.  Mrs. Esposito noted that the school Board is elected to make decisions that are in the best interest of the community.  Their job is to get the information from the experts, analyze the data and make a long term, cost effective decision based on that information.  That decision should not be passed to an uninformed, misinformed, or less informed public.  According to the Courier Times all Board members have come to a conclusion regarding the high school.  Mrs. Esposito urged the Board to do their job, be accountable and stick with their decision.  Mrs. Esposito cannot understand how a Board member can believe in something and then vote against same.  Mrs. Esposito applauds those members of the Board that have made an intelligent decision and have stayed with same.  Mrs. Esposito noted that they are doing their job and are being responsible Board members.  Mrs. Esposito feels that building a new high school will be the most efficient and long term, cost effective route to go.  Mrs. Esposito noted that is her non-professional opinion. 

Mr. Sal Esposito, Langhorne, PA, noted that he has been living in Neshaminy School District for seventeen years.  Mr. Esposito noted that he is a mechanical engineer and has been practicing his profession for over twenty years.  Mr. Esposito noted that his training as a mechanical engineer does not allow him to make a decision regarding building a new high school without all the facts in front of him.  It disturbs Mr. Esposito to hear all this discussion regarding referendum.  The public is being asked to render a decision on something that they are not qualified to make a decision about.  Mr. Esposito does not want to show any disrespect to the public, however, they simply are not trained to make that type of decision.  Mr. Esposito was concerned that someone made a statement earlier that there is nothing wrong structurally with the school.  Is that person a structural engineer?  Mr. Esposito feels that everyone is entitled to an opinion, however, it is just that, an opinion.  Mr. Esposito is also concerned about taxes, but that does not change the fact that the Board was elected to make a good decision on behalf of the public.  Mr. Esposito noted that this is not a democracy, but it is a representative government.  The Board is elected to make informed decisions on behalf of the public.  This requires engaging the appropriate experts, analyze the data, do a financial analysis and make the decision.

Mrs. Lisa Pflaumer, Middletown Township, noted that she has been out on the streets, day in and day out.  The biggest issue in the community is taxes.  Mrs. Pflaumer believes it is a shame that the majority of this Board does not want to understand and acknowledge that the people have spoken regarding the issue of the high school.  The people want a referendum on the issue.  That is why this past May the public selected candidates who were for a referendum.  This is an overwhelming issue for this community, not just Middletown Township, but everyone in this school district.  Mrs. Pflaumer noted that a survey will only waste additional taxpayer dollars.  The same message will be received in the end, they want to decide.  Mrs. Pflaumer stated let the public decide to build a new school.  The Board will then have the backing of the people.  Let them decide whether they just want renovations or just maintain the current building that has not been maintained for the past couple of decades.  This Board and previous Boards have not taken into consideration the maintenance aspects of the high school.

Mr. Jasper Caro, Middletown Township, is an engineer and attorney.  Mr. Caro is running for election in Middletown Township.  Mr. Caro noted that he is not an expert in the fields of rebuilding, renovations and new construction, however, he reported that he has been on every street in Middletown Township and the message that he brings to the Board is that the taxes are overburdening the citizens.  Mr. Caro would like the Board to keep that in mind when they are making their decisions.

4.        Announcements

No announcements.

5.        Items for Discussion

(a)     Computers for Food Services

Mr. Wilson advised Board members that the computers in the Food Services division are more then ten years old.  Windows 95 software is still being used.  The Food Services division has come up with a concept that would enable the public to charge their childs lunches online using Visa, Mastercard, etc.  This would require the purchase of new computers and a new server.  This would be an attempt to market their foods on an increasing basis.  Mr. Wilson noted that cost would be approximately $10,000.  Mr. Wilson realizes that the Food Services Department is on their own and that no money is to come from the General Fund for benefits, capital improvements, etc.

Mr. Wilson requested the Board for guidance.  Mr. Wilson advised that the district could purchase the items from the General Fund and support the Food Services Department. 

Mr. Schoenstadt noted that a significantly large amount of money was taken from Food Services last year for bonuses which the Board had not approved at any time.  The Board has an obligation, since the funds were taken from Food Services, to support the Food Services as an independent operation and provide what is necessary to keep it going.  The Food Services would have had the funds in the reserve account.  Mr. Schoenstadt would also like to see justification why it is not being generated within the Food Services Department.  Mr. Schoenstadt would like the previous Administration to explain why those bonuses were paid, when the Board never authorized and never approved them.

Mr. Wilson noted that the district could purchase the equipment necessary from Dell. 

Mrs. Drioli noted that previous Food Services administration have been able to show a profit because they did not reinvest in themselves.  There has been no updating on the computer system.  Mrs. Drioli feels that it is in the best interest of the district to maintain Food Services.  Mrs. Drioli would like to see the systems upgraded.

Mr. Paradise advised the Board that Food Services up until a few years ago had very little computerization.  Mr. Paradise noted that the Food Services equipment was given to them when equipment in other parts of the district was being upgraded.  Old machines were refurbished and Food Services used them.  Mr. Paradise noted that over the course of the last year, sales have been down.  Mr. Paradise noted that it is basic marketing.  It must become easier for people to give you money.  Parents could go onto the website and charge their childs lunches.  In order to provide this type of service, newer equipment is necessary.

Mr. Profy arrived at 7:35 p.m.

Mr. Eccles noted that the Food Services Department is to be self sufficient and Mr. Eccles inquired as to next years funds.  Mr. Paradise noted that he is meeting with the director to discuss the prior two years and review all the details to come up with a plan.  Mr. Paradise noted that there is no projected income at this point for Food Services for the upcoming year.  Mr. Paradise noted that this is a business in which the governmental entity controls the number of customers, controls the access to the customers, the type of food that is bought, etc.  Mr. Paradise assured Board members that there will be a plan in place to improve the bottom line.

Mr. Eccles suggested that the district lend the Food Services Department the amount of $10,000.

Dr. Spitz noted that the Food Services Department does not have sufficient flexibility to be a profit making business as other businesses would have.  The district tells them their prices and restrictions are placed upon them.  Dr. Spitz would like to see increased flexibility for the Food Services Department in order that they can operate as a stand alone operation.

Ms. Drioli noted that this Board has in the past allowed the Food Services Department some grace.  The people working within Food Services are the very same people who are paying taxes in this District.  Ms. Drioli feels that this is a good thing and if the Department needs help this district should be there so it does not fail. 

Mr. Soifer felt that an obligatory note, as Mr. Eccles suggested would be a good way to proceed with this situation.  Mr. Wilson thanked the Board for their direction.

6.        Items for Approval

a)       Overnight Trips

Trip information distributed for the following trips was self-explanatory:

i)                    Debate Club/Dramatics Club Trip Neshaminy High School, Susquehanna University, March 25-27, 2004

ii)                  Foreign Language Trip Neshaminy High School, Quebec March 24 28, 2004

iii)                Instrumental Music Adjudication Trip Neshaminy High School, Anaheim,

California April 15 20, 2004

iv)                 Junior Class Trip Neshaminy High School, Baltimore, Washington and

Williamsburg April 24- 26, 2004

v)                   History Club Trip Neshaminy High School, Washington, DC and Annapolis,

Baltimore May 21-23, 2004

Mrs. Butville inquired whether the people involved with these trips have an understanding that the trip could possibly be canceled due to some unforeseen reason.  Mr. Wilson noted that if there is a crisis or national emergency, that the district many not be able to obtain all the money back.  The district will do everything that it can to work with the sponsor to receive the return of all monies.  Mr. Wilson noted that parents will be requested to execute a form to that effect.

There was Board consensus for the five trips.

b)       Student/Advisor Attendance at PASA/PSBA Conference October 22-24, 2003

There was Board consensus and a Board motion will follow.

c)       Act 34 Resolution

Mr. Wilson explained that in June the Board adopted a resolution to schedule and hold an Act 34 Hearing on September 9, 2003.  Mr. Wilson noted that the motion needed to contain the construction costs, etc.  This evening another motion will be adopted which will contain dollar amounts.

There was Board consensus and a Board motion will follow.

d)       Approval of Bid/s

Mr. Paradise reviewed the following bids:

Bid No. 04-16 Dishwasher

Bid Amount:  $10,720.00

The bid is for a dishwasher at Poquessing Middle School.

Bid No. 04-17 Stationery Supplies

Bid Amount:  $40,000.00

The bid is for miscellaneous office supplies purchased throughout the school year as needs arise.  The discount is based on the United Stationers catalog which is used by many retailers in our portion of the country.

Bid No. 04-18 Musical Instruments

Bid Amount:  $19,492.51

The bid is for musical instruments and accessories for K-12 instruction throughout the district.

The three bids will be presented for approval at the Public Meeting portion this evening.

7.        Items for Information

a)       Summer School 2003

Dr. Boccuti advised that the summer programs have been completed and a handout was supplied to Board members.  Dr. Boccuti noted that the programs are self sufficient and the district can expect a profit to be made by the programs, even though invoices are still being received.

b)       PSBA Legislative Platform

Mrs. Butville explained that this proposal is being completed in response to the legislators not having their budget completed on time.  The district is required by school law to pass a budget by the end of June.  The district is mandated to reopen their budget after the legislators pass their budget to account for the money given by them to the districts.  The proposal was to be received by PSBA by August 15, 2003; however, if the Board passes same this evening it can be faxed tomorrow.

PSBA lobbies the legislators in many different areas, i.e transportation, governance, special education, etc.  This is just another proposal that would help school districts with their future budgets and encourage the legislators to pass their budget on time, so that school districts do not have to reopen their budgets.  

There was Board consensus to provide the proposal to PSBA.

8.        Superintendents Report

a)   Staff Achieving Tenure

A handout was provided to Board members.  Mr. Wilson noted that eight individuals were granted tenure. 

9.     Committee Reports

a)       Board Policies

Mrs. Butville advised that the Board Policies Committee has not met, however, Mr. Marotto was given the directive to review all of the policies throughout this year and update each one.  Policies up to the 500 section have been reviewed.  Mr. Profy reviewed Policy #520 and the appropriate changes were made and approved. 

b)       Education Foundation

Dr. Spitz reported that a meeting took place last week and plans were being made for the Fall Fundraiser.

c)                Finance/Facilities

Mr. Soifer reported that no meetings have taken place.

d)  IU Board

No report.

e)                Educational Development

Dr. Spitz reported that no meeting has taken place, however, this year a full agenda is scheduled including review of PSSA scores, middle school program review, AE program review, etc.

f)                Technical School

Mrs. Butville advised that the Support Staff contract has been reached.

g)   Technology

No report.

10.     Future Topics

Pride and Promise Campaign resolutions.

11.     Agenda Development

Public meeting will follow.

12.     Correspondence

Mrs. Walls advised that there was no correspondence.

13.     Other Board Business

Mrs. Bostwick announced that the Tuesday, September 16, 2003, meeting will be canceled.  The next public board meeting will take place Tuesday, September 23, 2003.

14.     Adjournment of Meeting

Mrs. Bostwick moved that this portion of the meeting be adjourned and Dr. Spitz seconded the motion.  The Board unanimously approved the motion.  Mrs. Bostwick adjourned the meeting at 8:00 p.m.


PUBLIC MEETING

Call to Order

Mrs. Bostwick called the Public meeting to order at 8:00 p.m.

Approval of Minutes

Upon motion of Mr. Schoenstadt and seconded by Mr. Soifer the Board unanimously approved the minutes of the June 26, 2003 Public Meeting. 

Approval of Treasurers Report, Bills for Payment, Investments, and Exonerations of Personal and Per Capita Tax Mr. Paradise presented the following for approval:

         June, 2003 and July, 2003 Treasurers Report, subject to audit

         Bills for payment Check Register June, 2003 and July, 2003

         Two Escrow Funds and One Investment Fund

         No Budget Transfers

         No Personal and per capita tax exonerations for June, 2003 and July, 2003

Mr. Soifer moved the June, 2003 and July, 2003 Treasurers Report be approved, subject to audit, and the June, 2003 bills for payment and July, 2003 bills for payment be approved.  Mr. Stack seconded the motion.

The Board approved the Treasurers Reports, subject to audit, and bills for payment by a vote of eight ayes and one nay (Dr. Spitz). 

Approval of Bids

Mr. Paradise presented the following bids for approval:

Bid No. 04-16 Dishwasher (re-Bid)

Bid Amount:  $10,720.00

The bid is for a dishwasher at Poquessing Middle School.

Bid No. 04-17 Stationery Supplies

Bid Amount:  $40,000.00

The bid is for miscellaneous office supplies purchased throughout the school year as needs arise.  The discount is based on the United Stationers catalog which is used by many retailers in our portion of the country.

Bid No. 04-18 Musical Instruments

Bid Amount:  $19,492. 51

The bid is for musical instruments and accessories for K-12 instruction throughout the district.

Mr. Soifer moved the two bids be approved and Mr. Stack seconded the motion.

The Board unanimously approved the three bids.

Certified and Support Personnel Actions

Mr. Wilson presented the following for approval:

         Elections Certified Personnel

         Resignations and Leaves of Absence Certified Personnel

         Elections Support Personnel

         Resignations and Leaves of Absence Support Personnel

         Addendum of Elections of Certified Personnel

         Addendum to Resignation/Leaves of Certified Personnel

Mr. Wilson announced that the new high school principal is Mr. Alexander Menio.

Mr. Wilson advised that Mr. Wyatt and Mr. Marotto evaluated the long term substitutes and ranked them in a numerical order so that when openings occurred the district would be selecting the best individuals.

Mr. Wilson recommended the approval of the personnel report for certified and support personnel. 

Mrs. Butville moved the personnel actions be approved.  Mr. Stack seconded the motion.

The Board unanimously approved the Certified and Support Personnel actions.

Extra Curricular Staff and Salaries Report

Mr. Wilson noted that the report is for the 2003-2004 school year and all the positions are contract related and all are budgeted items.  More teachers from the staff are actually coaching this year.  Some vacancies still exist.

Mr. Wilson recommended the approval of the Extra-Curricular Staff and Salaries Report.

The Board unanimously approved the Extra-Curricular Staff and Salaries Report.

Motion: Addendum to Superintendents Contract

Mrs. Butville presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, the Neshaminy Board of School Directors met in executive session on July 9, 2003 to discuss personnel issues, and

WHEREAS, the Personnel Report reflects some of these discussions.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Addendum to the Superintendents Contract as attached is approved.

Mr. Schoenstadt seconded the motion. 

The Board unanimously approved the motion.

Motion:  Student/Advisor Attendance at PASA/PSBA Conference

Ms. Drioli presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the Neshaminy Board of School Directors encourage student delegates and their advisor to participate in the workshops and activities of the annual PASA/PSBA Conference; and

WHEREAS, in the past it was found that student participation in the conference benefited the local student government program and helped students to understand the purpose and activities of a Board of School Directors.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that two students and their advisor are authorized to attend the 2003 PASA/PSBA Conference to be held in Hershey, Pennsylvania from October 22-24, 2003, and that related conference fees and costs be paid by the District.

Mrs. Butville seconded the motion.

The Board unanimously approved the motion.

Motion:  Act 34 Resolution

Mrs. Jowett presented the following motion:

RESOLUTON

The Board of School Directors of the school district hereby adopts a maximum project cost of $92,697,981 (from Plancon D03, line I) and a maximum building construction cost of up to $68,539,500 (from Plancon D20, line C) for the Neshaminy High School project.

The Board of Directors of the school district hereby authorizes and directs a public hearing to be held on September 9, 2003, at 6 p.m. at the Neshaminy School District Administrative Offices at the Maple Point Auditorium, 2250 Langhorne Yardley Road, to provide information to the residents of the school district with respect to the Project.  The secretary of the school district is hereby authorized and directed to cause a notice of such public hearing to be published once in the local newspaper, such publication to appear on August 20, 2003.

The Board of School Directors of the school district hereby authorizes and directs that a description of the Project be prepared and made available to the public no later than August 20, 2003, and that such description be mailed to the news media for the release no later than August 26, 2003.

The Board of School Directors of the school district hereby authorizes and directs the proper officers of the school district to submit to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (the Department) a certified copy of this Resolution, together with a copy of the minutes or transcript of the aforementioned public hearing, a proof of publication of the notice thereof and a complete description of the Project, all as required by Act 34 of l973 of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, as well as any other documents required by the Department in connection therewith.

Mr. Stack seconded the motion. 

Mr. Eccles again asked the Board to stop all action.  Mr. Eccles advised that he cannot vote in favor of same.

Mrs. Bostwick requested a roll call vote on the Act 34 Resolution.  The Board approved the motion by a vote of seven ayes (Mrs. Bostwick, Mrs. Butville, Mrs. Jowett, Mr. Schoenstadt, Mr. Soifer, Dr. Spitz, Mr. Stack) and two nays (Ms. Drioli and Mr. Eccles).

Mrs. Bostwick advised that in order to participate in the Act 34 Hearing you must submit to the Board Secretary, Mrs. Walls, in writing, on or before 10:00 a.m. on September 9, 2003, your name, your address and the subject matter you wish to discuss.  The public will also have until October 10, 2003 to submit further information to the Board and State.

Mr. Profy advised that a resident of the school district can gain agenda time for the purpose of discussing the proposed project by submitting a written request no later then September 9, 2003, at l0:00 a.m.  Such request can be mailed to the secretary, including the name and address of the person submitting the request and a statement of the topic to be presented.

Mr. Eccles inquired whether the Act 34 Hearing can supersede any Board motions on the number of people that can speak at the hearing. 

Mr. Profy advised that agenda time shall be limited as determined by the school district.  This Board will set the rules which will govern the amount of time which will be devoted to an individual for comment at the time of the hearing.

Dr. Spitz inquired whether any decisions have been made regarding the amount of time to be spent on each speaker. 

Ms. Drioli suggested that the hearing begin at 6:00 p.m. 

Mr. Eccles feels that everyone should have the opportunity to speak.  

Mr. Profy read the notice approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education:  Such requests may be mailed to the undersigned, shall include the name and address of the person submitting the request and a statement of the topic to be presented.

Mr. Profy advised that the public also has the right to submit a written statement, either at the hearing, mailing it to the district so it is incorporated into the record, and the right is available through October 10, 2003.

Mr. Wilson requested as the written submissions are received they be numbered.  Ms. Drioli prevailed upon the public that if she is expected to stay until 2:00 a.m. that the first speaker also remains at the hearing until 2:00 a.m.

Dr. Spitz agrees in principal that everyone should have the opportunity to speak, however, a limit may need to be set to make it reasonable.  Dr. Spitz hopes that all Board members will receive a copy of the written statements received by the district.

Mr. Profy advised that this will be an official hearing and a transcript will be taken by an official court reporter.

Mr. Stack inquired when the next Work Session will take place since the Board has an obligation to respond to the Act 34 hearing results and what the opinion of the Board is.  Mr. Profy advised that there will be a thirty day period after the closing of the hearing for persons to submit written statements.  The Board cannot take action or submit Plancon D to the state prior to that time.  The state will not accept it until after October 10, 2003.  Mr. Stack noted that he is not referring to the Plancon process, however, the bond process.  The Board has an obligation to address outstanding debts that need to be funded by the district.  Mr. Stack is suggesting that the Board needs to address the issue of bonds. 

Mr. Soifer noted that all the information needs to be reviewed before any decisions can be made regarding bonds.

Discussion ensued amongst Board members regarding future meeting dates.

Ms. Drioli questioned whether there is a shelf life to the Act 34 Hearing.  Mr. Profy advised that the Board cannot act before the 31st day after September 9, 2003.  Mr. Profy advised that he would research the duration period. 

Mr. Profy advised that there will be reasonable time constraints based upon the numbers incorporated into the Plancon documents and estimated construction costs.  Mr. Profy advised, however, that it would not preclude the Board from having discussions regarding bonds.  The Board may wish to establish some general parameters within which to work, but the specificity will be determined in the future.

Mr. Schoenstadt suggested that if at the Work Session on the 16th of September the board discusses the bonds and sets a firm date based on approval of the Act 34 hearing, the day after approval if the Board has identified the needs for the bonds the district could actually start approval of selling the bonds the following day.  If at the meeting on the 16th there are five board members that would like to proceed, the Board can move ahead in that regard.  The Board understands the other state requirements. 

Mr. Eccles is concerned about the quick movement of these meetings.

Ms. Drioli stated that there is a group of people who say they have a better option, they have a better alternative.  If the Board moves forward at this time they will come in and stop this which will cost the district money or they will piggyback on the decisions that have been made and they will come in and say they do not want to cost the district any money and go along with same.  Ms. Drioli is very anxious to hear some of the alternatives that the new Board members have to offer. 

Motion: Taxpayer Survey and Analysis Rescind

Mr. Schoenstadt presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, Neshaminy Board of School Directors did on June 26, 2003 adopt a Resolution authorizing a survey to be made to obtain the opinions of taxpayers of the School District concerning the proposed building plans for Neshaminy High School and authorizing the engagement of the services of Sales Qualifiers, a CKC Enterprises Ltd Company, Cleveland, Ohio to oversee the survey project at a cost not to exceed $50,000; and

WHEREAS, the Board has reconsidered the feasibility of performing the survey and the advisability of expending up to $50,000 to obtain the above described survey.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Neshaminy Board of School Directors rescinds the Resolution adopted June 26, 2003 authorizing the survey and the engagement of the services of Sales Qualifiers, a CKC Enterprises Ltd Company, Cleveland, Ohio to oversee the survey project.

Mrs. Butville seconded the motion. 

Dr. Spitz wished to express his support for the survey even though it was not a perfect option since it costs money, however, he believes that it would have been the most efficient way to get the most input from the largest number of people from the community.

The Board approved the motion by a vote of seven ayes and two nays (Dr. Spitz and Mr. Stack).

Mr. Stack requested in lieu of that action that the Board consider placing the content of what was prepared for the survey on the Neshaminy website for the public to review and take into consideration for the Act 34 Hearing.

Mr. Eccles requested a chance to review the material before it was actually placed on the website.

There was Board consensus to put the information on the website.

Federal Programs

Mr. Wilson stated that there was no report.  Mr. Wilson wanted the public to know that the Act 34 Hearing packets would be available for the public to pick-up at the district offices between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Other Board Business

No other board business.

Correspondence

The Board Secretary advised that there was no correspondence.

Public Comment

Mr. Tom Gallagher, Middletown Township, expressed to the Board his concern that this meeting could not be moved to the auditorium when it became evident the number of citizens present at this evenings meeting.  People were unable to hear.  Very important business was transpiring this evening.  People were in the hallway.  Mr. Gallagher does not understand the logic of this Board and the antagonistic attitude toward the citizens of our community.  The Act 34 Hearing is nothing but a farce to jam a new school down the taxpayers throat.  The community cannot afford same, but the Board will not listen.

Mr. Alden Thorpe, Middletown Township, repeated some of the comments of Mr. Gallagher and he was also ashamed that senior citizens were required to stand in the hallways to attend this meeting.  The Board should recognize that the public is not for a new high school.   The taxpayer is saying that there needs to be another way.  Mr. Thorpe is ashamed that there are no microphones, the Board does not have microphones, and the public could not possibly hear in the hallway.

Mr. Jay Dombach, Flint Road, advised that he does not have much stake in the building since his daughter is a senior and his other daughter is a freshman, however, he does not understand why the decisions that are made are not followed up on.  Mr. Dombach notes that in the paper we are told not to purchase things we cannot afford.  However, if that were true there would be very few people sitting in this room today living in houses or driving automobiles.  Most people need to obtain loans to get what they want.  Mr. Dombach does not know how the general public is going to make a decision when they dont have all the information and have not taken the time to review all the material.  The survey would have given the public a chance to voice their opinion.  Mr. Dombach would recommend if it is put on the website there should be some way for the public to respond to same.  Mr. Dombach noted that things have changed in the past thirty years.  Education costs have risen.  Best motivators are good parents.  But, students need adequate buildings to learn.  This Board made a decision to go ahead and now politics have become involved.  Mr. Dombach urged the Board to be a leader and stick with their decisions.

Mr. Solis Basen, Langhorne, PA, confirmed that the Act 34 Hearing will take place at the Maple Point Auditorium.  Mr. Basen questioned why the need for another presentation.  The Board has heard the people, small groups, large groups and the majority are against the new high school.  What will happen after the Act 34 hearing?  Will the Board go back to their original thoughts even though they are hearing the voice of the people?

Mr. Jack Shaw, Langhorne, PA, stated he has heard various figures, however he has not heard figures on what the costs will be to repair these schools in the time the district is building the new school.  These repairs have been presented as being necessary, roofs are leaking, boilers need repair, etc.  No one has addressed these costs, in addition to the new school.  Mr. Shaw advised the Board to get realistic about the costs since the figures not only include the new school, but it includes necessary maintenance to the old one.

Mr. Joe Robb, Neshaminy Teacher, with address at 67 Premier Drive, Langhorne, PA, l9053, which is Northampton Township, stated the Board needs the perspective from the teachers point of view.  Mr. Robb stated that he only has three more years in the district, but he has put a lot of time studying this issue.  Mr. Robb works in the building everyday.  In Mr. Robbs community since the new school was built, four houses have sold for $70,000 above market price.  Mr. Robb noted that if this community wants this school district to grow, the district needs to do something about the high school.  New housing developments, new community centers, etc. are being built.  Mr. Robb sympathizes with the public who has lived in their homes for thirty and forty years and cannot pay the taxes.  Mr. Robb stated that the state government needs to step in and assist in those situations.  Mr. Robb noted that all the difficult renovations are left in the building.  It does not make any sense to build the school on the same footprint that it is on right now and continue the roof area and boiler systems, etc. Mr. Robb noted that the political agendas need to stop. 

Mr. Phil Schieber, Langhorne, PA, suggested that this meeting should have taken place in a larger hall since he was going to bring a lot of people to the meeting.  Mr. Schieber stated that he does have a political agenda and he wants to continue to live where he lives.  If the taxes are raised any more he will need to move.  An average increase was not seen by the residents of Flowers Mill.  Mr. Schieber is concerned about the rush to do a bond issue.  What is the rush to do the bond issue?  Mr. Schieber noted that if you proceed before the thirty days, you are violating the spirit of Act 34 and you may be violating sect rules by putting out a perspective on something that you plan to do that you do not have the proper approval to do.  The Board needs to look at the new rules, which have come out due to Enron.  The Board is now personally responsible for bad decisions regarding finances.

Mr. Michael Booth, Levittown, PA, is thinking about retirement and does not think he can afford an increase.  Mr. Booth is looking for other options and even though the Board is elected to make hard decisions, they also need to listen to the public.  The public has told you what to do.

Mr. Louis Goodman, Langhorne, PA, commented that the Board should hold off until the new Board is in place and let them handle the problems, and if they decide to change things it will cost money.  If you decide to wait and do nothing and let them decide it will not cost anything more.  The bond issue will not rise, interest rates will not rise in another six weeks.  Mr. Goodman agrees with the fact that there should be a larger room and amplification, and the school board meetings should be videotaped and shown on the local TV channel.

Mr. Wilson addressed the larger room issue and advised that during the summer the maintenance crews are working in the auditoriums and larger rooms, major construction is going on currently at this facility. 

Mrs. Rita Geddes, Feasterville, PA, noted that many people are intimidated to come forward and speak because if someone is for the building of a new high school they are heckled by other members of the public.  Mrs. Geddes noted that a teacher, who does not live in this district, gave up his own time to come and speak because he cares that much about the school, students and community, and all he received was rudeness and heckling.  Mrs. Geddes further noted that it is difficult for her to bring two people to the meetings because one of the adults needs to stay home with the children.  The numbers at the meeting do not necessarily reflect the number of people for a new high school.  Mrs. Geddes was a member of the steering committee and the tax increase to renovate is relatively the same as building new.  If the public really wants to make a difference in the taxes work with your state legislator, write letters, get it changed to an income based system and not a property based system.  The public needs to present their views to the state legislators.  Mrs. Geddes believes that senior citizens taxes should be frozen when they reach a certain point, in order that they do not have to leave their homes.  That issue cannot be addressed here, it is a state wide problem and the state legislators need to hear this.  Mrs. Geddes stated once again, someone who speaks in favor of new high school, is interpreted and not allowed to continue.  Mrs. Geddes has a right to speak, and not be attacked personally.

Mrs. Sharon Binder, Feasterville, PA, stated that her husband would also like to attend the meetings, however, he needs to stay at home with the children.  Mrs. Binder feels that the people for the new high school are underrepresented since they are the parents of the students.  Mrs. Binder is concerned about the senior citizens, however, if the option to renovate is chosen, what happens to the students who cannot tolerate that type of environment.  What will happen to the students who will become ill during the renovations due to the mold, asbestos, etc.  Mrs. Binder noted that 24% of the students at Ferderbar Elementary have diagnosis of asthma.  What will the cost be to the district to educate them in other schools.  Mrs. Binder is concerned about the impact health wise and cost wise of that occurring.  Mrs. Binder stated that it was attempted to be addressed at the Steering Committee but it was stated that that was not the forum for that discussion.  Mrs. Binder noted that costs cannot be the only factor; it needs to be about the community.  Mrs. Binder cannot speak higher of Neshaminy School District and the education her daughter is receiving, however, Mrs. Binder is very concerned about some of the health issues that have not been addressed.

Mrs. Helene Kostar, Langhorne, PA, is speaking as an aunt with nieces and nephews in the school district and someone who is involved with children in her development who attend Neshaminy School District.  Mrs. Kostar stated that back in May a total of $1.5M that had been spent on the architect in Minnesota and while Mrs. Kostar reviewed the summary this evening there was another $636,000 spent in July making a total of $2.1M spent on a project that as of this date has not yet been approved.  That money could be spent on the children.  Mrs. Kostar has been attending meetings since last September asking for a referendum because Mrs. Kostar feels that it is the public that should make the decisions.  Mrs. Kostar has presented several times to make Maple Point 9-10 and make the high school 11-12.  Mrs. Kostar does not want to hear that Maple Point does not have the field capabilities.  It was a high school in the seventies.  Mrs. Kostar does not want to hear that the administrators are there and they cannot move.  The students should have the highest priorities, regardless of all other situations.  Mrs. Kostar remarked that the survey does not include all the other options.  Mrs. Kostar is concerned that when she sends a letter it will be trashed.  Does she need to send a copy to the state Board of Education?  That is why Mrs. Kostar is in favor of a referendum.

Mrs. Esther Mikus, Langhorne, PA, stated that she is speaking for the first time at a school board.  Mrs. Mikus finds the process offensive, from the senior citizens who should know better about how to act and be respectful of people speaking and from certain Board members.  The public has an opinion.  Mrs. Mikus has been in the high school.  Mrs. Mikus had to leave the classroom due to an asthma attack she experienced from the mold.  It is offensive.  Mrs. Mikus does not want a tax increase either, but if something is not done now, this community will suffer.  Mrs. Mikus is very disappointed in all the senior citizens present for making fun of the opinions of others whether it agrees with yours or not.

Mrs. Michelle MacKay, Langhorne, PA, stated that the issue for her is not do we need a new high school, she feels that probably something needs to be done.  Issues are directly affecting the health and welfare of our children.  Mrs. MacKay feels that it has nothing to do with whether or not she is qualified to know whether the school is in bad shape.  Mrs. MacKay is qualified enough to know that the taxes are unaffordable.  Mrs. MacKays husband is in the building industry, which happens to be the only industry making money, however, they froze his pay.  Mrs. MacKay is paying $600.00 per month for health insurance.  Mrs. MacKay knows the teachers are not paying for the Personal Choice they are receiving.  Mrs. MacKay cannot afford what will happen to her taxes, however, she understands that renovations need to occur since the school is in poor condition.  Mrs. MacKay stated that if a survey were to be sent to her house she would be completing hers, she would be completing husbands, her mothers, her fathers.  Mrs. MacKay stated that her husband does not sign his own paycheck.  Mrs. MacKay says that you take the opportunity that is given or you miss it.  If the public did not come to the polls and voice their opinion the first time then they missed the opportunity.  Mrs. MacKay is glad the survey was reversed and the money can be spent on other school needs.

Mr. Sol Basen, Langhorne, PA, noted that prior to some of the meetings the choir, jazz band, or awards were presented, etc.  Mr. Basen hoped that during the Act 34 Hearing there would be no grandstanding.  Stick to business.

Mr. Clem Piscitelli, Langhorne, PA stated that he has been a resident since 1959 and was on the school board in the 60s and 70s for 10 years.  At that time microphones were available for each school Board member.  Mr. Piscitelli noted that this evenings meeting could have taken place at the high school in order to accommodate all the people who have attended.  Mr. Piscitelli inquired regarding the Addendum to the Superintendents contract, and Mr. Piscitelli inquired whether he can come to the district to examine the contract and see what he is being paid.

Mrs. Bostwick noted that the Superintendents contract is a personnel issue and was handled in Executive Session.  Ms. Drioli suggested that Mr. Piscitelli speak with the solicitor regarding same. 

Board Comment

Mr. Soifer remarked that if students who are members of the choir, jazz band, etc. perform before a meeting it is not grandstanding.  Mr. Soifer noted that there are times when students are acknowledged for their achievements.  Most people feel that it is worthwhile venture and that is why it is done.

Ms. Drioli commented that when people do not come to vote she does not want to hear that they are too busy.   Ms. Drioli feels it is a gift to exercise your freedom to vote.  Going to vote does not take much effort.  Ms. Drioli stated that the silent majority had a right to be heard; the same right was given to them as the people who exercised their right.  Ms. Drioli does respect the vote and the outcome of the vote, and she will never take that process lightly.   Ms. Drioli feels that the right to vote is very important.   Ms. Drioli cannot honor your opinion if you do not come out and vote.

Mrs. Butville stated that she feels she was elected to serve the entire community and do what is right for the entire community, not just those who voted for her.  Mrs. Butville took the time, looked at the information, and decided what is best for both the taxpayer and the students.  Mrs. Butville stated that those who are scared of a tax increase associated with a new high school should be terrified of the alternatives, because the Board has looked at all the information.  Mrs. Butville stated that other options have been reviewed.  Mrs. Butville came into this process with an open mind.  Renovations will cost millions and will only last ten or fifteen years.  Maintenance projections are higher with a renovated high school.  The current facility is very difficult to bring up to code.  Mrs. Butville stressed to the public all the advantages of the new facility.  Mrs. Butville also noted that the PSSA scores were a mistake for Lower Southampton Elementary.

Mr. Wilson noted that an appeal was filed and the districts appeal was upheld.  The attendance issue at the high school was cited because six fewer special education students failed to take the test.  The test is not feasible for some special education students.

Mr. Stack commented that it is very important for the public to review the information that has been provided and also the information available on the Neshaminy website.  Detailed information is provided for the publics review which provides answers to many of the questions presented this evening by the public. 

Mr. Schoenstadt addressed the issue of renovations.  The timetable for new construction is 39 months.  The timetable for renovations while the students are attending high school is 6-8 years of renovations.  Mr. Schoenstadt would never vote to subject students in the community to 6-8 years of torture.  Mr. Stack also noted that 24 portable classrooms would need to be purchased.

Adjournment

Mrs. Jowett moved the meeting be adjourned and Mr. Soifer seconded the motion.  The Board unanimously approved the motion.  Mrs. Bostwick adjourned the meeting at 9:50 p.m.

Respectively submitted,                                                                                             

Anita E. Walls

Board Secretary

 
 

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