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The Neshaminy Board of School Directors met in public session on February 12, 2002 in the Board Room of the District Offices, Maple Point Middle School.  The following persons were in attendance:

BOARD MEMBERS:

ADMINISTRATORS:

Mr. Steven Schoenstadt, President

Dr. Gary Bowman

Mrs. June Bostwick, Vice President

Mr. Harry Jones

Mrs. Yvonne Butville
Mr. Harry Dengler, Jr.

Mr. Joseph Paradise
Mr. P. Howard Wilson

Ms. Carol Drioli

Mr. Bruce Wyatt

Mr. Richard Eccles

 

George Mecleary, Jr., Esq.
Dr. William Spitz

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

BOARD MEMBER NOT PRESENT:
Mrs. Kimberly Jowett

 

SECRETARY:  Mrs. Carol Calvello

 

 

1.   Call to Order

      Mr. Schoenstadt called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

2.   Pledge of Allegiance

      Mr. Schoenstadt requested those in attendance join in the salute to the flag.

3.   Announcements

Mr. Schoenstadt announced Mrs. Calvello, Board Secretary, has submitted her resignation.  The position has been advertised.  The deadline for submitting an application for the Board Secretary position is February 20.  Mrs. Calvello�s last meeting will be the February 26 Public Meeting.  The goal is to have the new Board Secretary on board for the March 12 Public Work Session.

Dr. Bowman advised the Board a letter dated January 15 has been received announcing Mr. Paul Minotti, Director of Facilities and Engineering, has been granted a renewal of his status of Pennsylvania Registered School Business Official for a period of four years.  Dr. Bowman noted to obtain this status Mr. Minotti attended continuing education programs, obtained a certain number of credits and is in good professional standing with the Association.  Mr. Schoenstadt presented to Mr. Minotti the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials Certificate signed by the Association�s President and Executive Director. 

Dr. Bowman announced a thank you letter and gift of Florida oranges was received from Mr. Joseph Pishl.  Mr. Pishl  was one of the World War II veterans recently awarded a high school diploma.  Since Mr. Pishl resides in Florida, his high school diploma was mailed to him.

4.   Public Comment

      No public comment was presented.

5.   Items for Discussion

Mr. Schoenstadt recommended since there was not sufficient support for the Board to take any action on the Berkheimer Tax Study, agenda item 5b, Update of Berkheimer Tax Study, be tabled.  Mr. Dengler moved agenda item 5b, Update of Berkheimer Tax Study, be tabled and Mrs. Bostwick seconded the motion.  The Board approved the motion with eight ayes.

Mr. Schoenstadt recommended any discussion on the bond issue for renovations and construction, agenda item 5c, be referred to the Building Utilization/Finance Committee.  He noted BASCO�s recommendations and the five plans being developed have not been received.  Until the costs are known, any bond issue discussions would be premature.  A meeting is to be scheduled with the Building Utilization/Finance Committee members and BASCO�s representatives some time this month.  There was Board consensus to refer agenda item 5c, Future Bond Issue and Renovations and Construction, to the Building Utilization/Finance Committee.

Mr. Schoenstadt referred to the ten renovation questions sheet distributed prior to the meeting, and noted the ten questions relate to the discussions that will take place at the Building Utilization/Finance Committee Meeting.  He recommended after obtaining the necessary information, the committee review the ten questions and present a recommendation to the Board based on the ten questions.  This will allow the Board to have more positive information to evaluate.  There was Board consensus for Mr. Schoenstadt�s recommendation.  The ten questions will be addressed by the Building Utilization/Finance Committee.

a.        Future Use of Tawanka

Dr. Bowman advised the Board at a recent meeting with the Tawanka School Home and School Association, the uses of the Tawanka facility were discussed.  At the meeting, it was indicated the recommendation to the Board is to open the facility as an educational center/Neshaminy�s alternative school.  The school will be operated and administered by Neshaminy personnel.  Dr. Bowman stated the residents� questions were addressed very directly and openly.  The residents were invited to contact the Superintendent if they have any further questions.  As a result of the meeting, Dr. Bowman felt the residents understand what will take place.  The following commitments were made:

         The school property will be maintained.

         Building will be maintained.

         Playground will be available to the community as it is now.  The residents have elected to keep the playground equipment in place at the Tawanka School.

         Facility will continue to be available to the community.

Dr. Bowman stated all these factors add up to a community feeling comfortable that the Board will follow through with its commitments.  He noted the primary goal is to have the school open for September 2002 as an alternative school/educational center.  Consideration will be given to other uses for other areas of the facility.  The Bucks County Peace Center, Bucks County Intermediate Unit and Lower Southampton Recreation Board have expressed an interest in using a portion of the facility.  Utilization of the facility as an alternative school will require only minimal changes, i.e., installation of accordion gates to close off corridors.  No major expenses are anticipated.

Ms. Drioli asked the Board to consider the needs of the Lower Southampton Recreation Board.  The Lower Southampton Recreation Board is interested in using a portion of the Tawanka facility to provide activities for both children and adults.  She stated two years ago, the Board made a commitment to the community that the property of any closed facility would be maintained for use by the community.

Ms. Drioli inquired if the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers (NFT) will be supportive of Neshaminys alternative school.  Dr. Bowman stated as an organization representing teachers, the NFT did what they thought they needed to do in reference to taking a position.  The NFT was not overly aggressive in that process.  The NFT will make sure the contract is enforced.  He felt the NFT is pleased that the District will have its own alternative school.  Mr. Wilson noted the alternative school will probably provide opportunities for some of the staff members leaving the Tawanka School.

Dr. Bowman explained the final budget will reflect the reductions made as a result of closing a school and the reallocation of funds from external schools to the opening of the internal school.  When the Board approves the budget, it will approve all of the resources.

Mr. Wilson alerted the Board some money will continue to be paid to external alternative schools for incarcerated youths and the more violent students who will not be placed in Neshaminys alternative school/educational center.  He estimated the alternative school/educational center will open with an enrollment of 40 to 50 students.  It is estimated by Neshaminy operating its own alternative school/educational center there will be a savings of  $200,000 to $300,000. 

Dr. Bowman reviewed the following cost components:

           Savings from closing of Tawanka School

           Expenditure of funds to open the Tawanka facility as an alternative school

           Reallocation of funds from external schools to internal school

           There will be a net savings

None of the Board members indicated they were opposed to the administration proceeding with the process of preparing the alternative school/educational center for a September 2002 opening.  Dr. Bowman stated the administration will proceed with the process of preparing the alternative school/educational center for opening in September 2002.

b.       Update of Berkheimer Tax Study

Agenda item tabled earlier in the meeting.

c.        Future Bond Issue for Renovations and Construction

Issue referred to Building Utilization/Finance Committee.

d.       Bucks County Technical School Funding Method Projects/Bond Issue

Information distributed prior to the meeting.  Dr. Bowman, Mr. Paradise and Mrs. Donovan have been attending meetings at the Bucks County Technical High School pertaining to the funding methods issue.  Dr. Bowman explained when the decision was made to build the new Bucks County Technical High School, a commitment was made to the Morrisville School District that the Technical High School Board and Superintendents would examine the funding formula.  The Superintendents have met and the Business Administrators have had several meetings individually.  The participating smaller school districts would like to pay less.  For the smaller school districts to pay less, the larger school districts will have to pay more. 

Mr. Dengler explained to make any changes, the bylaws require that one District propose the change and all of the Districts support the change.  The approval must take place at each Boards local Board Meeting.  Dr. Bowman pointed out if one district out of the six school districts participating in the Bucks County Technical High School does not approve the change, the funding formula cannot be amended.  Mr. Schoenstadt suggested the Board take a position and Mrs. Butville and Mr. Dengler advise the Technical High School Board of the Districts position.  Dr. Bowman advised the Board that at this time no official response is needed.

Mr. Paradise explained the Bucks County Technical High School funding formula includes two parts, fixed costs and variable costs.  The fixed costs, a list of certain expenditures, are defined in the bylaws.  When the bylaws were first adopted, the fixed costs comprised 30 percent of the budget. Over time, as the budget grew, the fixed costs dollar amount remained similar but the percentage dropped as the rest of the budget grew.  The variable costs are enrollment based.  As the fixed percentage decreased, the variable percentage increased.  Even though the Morrisville and Bristol Borough School Districts student enrollment in the school has not increased, the districts are paying more in variable costs, because the charge per student has increased. 

Mr. Paradise noted the information distributed includes two proposals to address the issue.  Proposal no. 1 is the current formula.  The two new proposals are as follows:

Proposal No. 2

         Eliminate the list of expenditures outlined in the bylaws as fixed costs.

         Change the fixed costs percentage to 50 percent of whatever the budget is each year.

         Change the variable costs percentage to 50 percent based on enrollment.

Proposal No. 3

         Eliminate the list of expenditures outlined in the bylaws as fixed costs.

         Return fixed costs percentage to where it was when the bylaws were adopted, 30 percent.

Mr. Paradise pointed out it will be difficult to get all six participating school districts to agree to the proposed changes.  He reviewed the information distributed outlining the projected district share contributions.  By increasing the fixed costs percentage to 50 percent, Neshaminys 2002-2003 contribution would increase from $1,534,405 to $1,758,550.  Dr. Bowman noted the other proposal (proposal no. 3), which would set the fixed costs percentage at 30 percent, would result in Neshaminys 2002-2003 contribution increasing from $1,534,405 to $1,632,713.  Proposal no. 3 would result in very little change for the Bristol Borough School District and a $40,000 reduction for the Morrisville School District.  The Bristol Township School Districts cost would decrease slightly because they have such a large enrollment at the Technical High School.  The Pennsbury School Districts cost would increase slightly more than Neshaminys increased cost.  Under the current formula, even though Neshaminys enrollment in the Technical High School has decreased, Dr. Bowman has been advised the Districts share of the cost will probably be the same as this years amount. 

Mrs. Butville stated Neshaminy is not currently filling its enrollment allotment.  Mr. Schoenstadt pointed out all the Neshaminy special education students who apply to the Technical High School are not accepted.  He felt the Technical High Schools selection process is discriminatory and needs to be addressed.  Dr. Bowman explained every year a team of people from Neshaminy, who serve as the students advocate, is sent to the Technical High School to argue the case for Neshaminys special education students.  Approximately 80 percent of the special education students who apply to the Technical High School are accepted. 

Mr. Paradise explained the district share of cost chart includes total cost.  The Districts debt service, which is not included in the funding formula, is included in the chart. The debt service formula for the smaller school districts was previously adjusted and is not in question.  Only the funding formula (fixed costs and variable costs) is being challenged by the smaller school districts. 

6.   Items for Approval

a.        Overnight Trips

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

         Neshaminy High School (Class of 2003) Junior Class Trip to Williamsburg, VA April 26-28, 2003

         Neshaminy High School (Class of 2004) Junior Class Trip to Williamsburg, VA April 25-27, 2003

         Carl Sandburg Middle School Leatherback Turtle Project Group Trip to Sea World, Florida April 24-26

Dr. Bowman reminded the Board members due to the events of September 11, the 2002 junior class trip was canceled.  The trip has been rescheduled for next year when the students are seniors.  Ordinarily there is no senior class trip.  He noted dates of the seniors junior class trip are April 26-28 and the dates of the juniors trip are April 25-27.  The students will be following each other through the program, but they will not be at the same spot on any one day.

Mrs. Butville questioned whether the students of the class of 2003 will be interested in the trip to Williamsburg next year.  Mr. Wyatt explained in order for the trip to be held, 25 percent of the class must participate in the trip or it will be cancelled.  Since the administration wanted to obtain approval of the trip prior to conducting a survey, the class has not been surveyed yet. The students will be informed of the trip well in advance of the trip.

In response to questions about overlapping the two trips, Mr. Wyatt explained for ten years the trip to Williamsburg has been held with tremendous success.  If the trips are held in the same timeframe, there would be one large attendance disruption to the school rather than two disruptions.  There is no savings regarding the cost of hotels, transportation, etc.  Dr. Bowman explained having two individual trips will be more manageable than having one large trip. 

Dr. Bowman explained the group of  Sandburg Middle School students who developed a program on saving the leatherback turtles were to travel to Costa Rico, but the trip was canceled due to the events of September 11.  The students entered Sea Worlds national contest to submit proposals and projects related to any part of the Sea World philosophy and mission. The Sandburg students proposal was one of eight accepted across the nation.  As a result of this, all expenses will be paid for three eighth grade students trip to Sea World.  Since the students will receive the $10,000 first prize, the study will continue and possibly the students will travel to Costa Rico next year.  There will be no expense to the District for the trip.  Currently, three students are traveling to Sea World.  An effort is being made to have a fourth student included in the trip. 

There was Board consensus for the three trips.

b.       Settlement and Release Agreement for Student

Mr. Wilson advised the Board the parents of one of the Districts special education students want their child to attend a non-approved special education school.  In such situations, the parents are asked to sign a waiver so they cannot come back against the District because the IEP is not being implemented.  The settlement and release agreement will be an agenda item at the February Public Meeting.

c.        Appointment of Ten Trustees to the Neshaminy Student Loan Fund

Dr. Bowman explained a number of years ago a scholarship program was established.  Under the program, money was raised and scholarships were made available to the students.  When the students graduated college, they were to repay the money.  The repaid funds were used to grant more scholarships. In accordance with the bylaws, the program had twelve trustees.  Currently, there only two trustees, Messrs. Deering and Piscitelli. Since there was a huge sum of money outstanding and the trustees did not know how to go about collecting the outstanding funds, the program has been inactive for the past 14 to 15 years.  Eventually, no one was applying for the scholarships and no scholarships were granted.  It would cost more to pursue collecting the outstanding funds than would be collected.  There is a balance in the fund of $17,000.

Dr. Bowman explained the two remaining trustees have proposed that the $17,000 be turned over to the Neshaminy Education Foundation with the stipulation that the only money that can be spent is interest earned.  It will become a perpetual sum of money in the Foundation fund.  To achieve this, ten people need to be appointed to the Board of Trustees, which would bring the total number of trustees to twelve. 

Dr. Bowman recommended ten people, possibly Neshaminy Foundation members, be appointed to the Board of Trustees at the February 26 Public Meeting.  The solicitor will be consulted to determine the appropriate individuals to appoint to the Board of Trustees.  It will be an agenda item at the February 26 Public Meeting.  None of the Board members indicated they were opposed to Dr. Bowmans recommendation. 

d.       Approval of Bids/Budget Transfers

Information distributed prior to the meeting.  Mr. Paradise reviewed the following bids:

Bid No. 02-19 Exterior Door Replacements at Neshaminy High School, Neshaminy Middle School, Schweitzer and Ferderbar Elementary Schools

Bid Amount:  $112,100.00

The bid is for the replacement of eight doors at Neshaminy High School, six doors at Schweitzer Elementary, one door at Ferderbar Elementary and three doors at Neshaminy Middle School.  The cost of the door replacements is included in the current years budget.  At Neshaminy High School two of the doors are for the newly developed video studio and the other doors are due to a security issue that needed to be addressed.  The $112,100 bid is below the budgeted amount of $130,000. 

Bid No. 03-01 General School Supplies

Bid Amount:  $156,086.69

The bid is for various classroom and office supplies for use throughout the District for the school year 2002-2003.  The bids for these purchases are solicited by the District.  It is not done as part of a cooperative bid.  It is more cost effective for the District to obtain its own bids for the general school supplies.  The supplies are stored in the Districts central supplies warehouse and supplies are requisitioned internally during the course of the year as each individual school needs materials. 

In response to a question raised by Mr. Eccles, Mr. Paradise explained every school is given a per pupil allotment for supplies.  The school principal determines how the allotment will be spent.  Whether the allotment is spent on supplies or AV materials is the principals decision.  The budget, which is approved by the Board, includes a supplies budget for each school.  To receive supplies, the principal requisitions the supplies internally.  The requisition must include a budget code. The cost of the supplies is charged against the budget code.  If there are insufficient funds in the budget account, the order is not filled. 

In response to Mrs. Butvilles question, Mr. Paradise explained the general school supplies are an inventory purchase.  Nothing is being expensed.  The District is agreeing to cooperatively purchase the supplies at the lowest price and an asset (inventory) is created.  The supply cost listed in the budget will be much higher than the $156,086 bid amount.  The bid only represents those items that are general school supplies and instructional materials. 

Bid No. 03-04 Purchase of Used School Buses

Bid Amount:  $312,300.00

This bid is for the purchase of six 78-passenger 2001 used school buses and trade-in of six 1991 buses.

Bid No. 03-08 Buy-Back of Twenty-One School Buses

Bid Amount:  $271,000.00

The bid is for the buy-back of twelve 78-passenger buses, forward control buses, eight 78-passenger rear engine buses and one 20-passenger bus for school years 2002-2003 and 2003-2004.

Mr. Paradise explained the District has 99 school buses.  Twenty-one of the buses are leased (buy-back buses) and the District owns 78 school buses.  The District follows two plans: replacement of buy-back buses and replacement of 11 year old owned buses.  Bid no. 03-08 indicates two years, 2002-2003 and 2003-2004.  The two year period is to hold the price for the two-year program.  The buses will be paid for now.  The buy-back bus bid is significantly less expensive than last years bid.  The cost is $6,485.00 per bus, which is approximately $1,300 less per bus over last years cost. 

Mr. Paradise explained at one time the District owned all of its buses.  A number of years ago, the Board kept putting off the purchase of new buses and in one year 21 buses were needed.  The inexpensive way to deal with the situation was to obtain the needed buses through the buy-back program.  The only way to discontinue the buy-back program is to find the money to purchase 21 buses.  There are advantages and disadvantages to the buy-back program.  The bus company prefers it be a two year plan, because they prefer to have a two year old bus to sell.  The average life cycle of the buses the District owns is 11 years.  Mr. Paradise indicated he would prefer the District replace the buses after 10 years. 

Mr. Eccles inquired about the cost related to the maintenance of the buy-back buses.  Mr. Blasch, Director of Transportation, explained if a bus needs brakes, the District purchases the brakes and the company pays the District for performing the maintenance on the bus.  The District is required to perform some normal maintenance items such as oil changes.  Mr. Paradise explained at the end of the lease there is a settlement and depending on the level of maintenance performed on a bus the District receives a credit for the maintenance performed.  If there is damage to the bus, the District may have to pay rather receive a credit.  Mr. Eccles inquired what is the average yearly credit per bus.  Mr. Blasch indicated he did not have the average yearly credit information available at the meeting.

In response to Mr. Meclearys question, Mr. Paradise stated the bids are to replace existing buses.  No additional buses are being purchased. 

Mr. Paradise explained bid no. 03-04 is for the replacement of six eleven year old buses.  For years the District replaced the old buses with brand new buses.  In an effort to reduce costs, several years ago the District started replacing the old buses with the Districts own buy-back buses.  By doing that the District saves approximately $10,000 per bus.  The budget for bus replacement for the upcoming year will be less than the current years budget. 

Mr. Mecleary inquired about the style of the new buy-back buses.  Mr. Paradise explained the buses will be transit style (flat nose) buses.  In response to Ms. Driolis question regarding the Districts transportation cost per year, Mr. Paradise explained it is a $5,500,000 expenditure.  Ms. Drioli noted it is less expensive for the District to maintain its own fleet than contract out the service. 

Mr. Schoenstadt pointed out the state does not mandate transportation.  Transportation is a voluntary program that the District takes upon itself.  The $5,500,000 spent on transportation could be used to either contract services out at a cost of approximately $3,200,000 or have the contracted services be provided to the parents who do not want to transport their own children.  The Board has chosen to furnish the transportation.  By doing so, the Board has elected to take the burden of managing a transportation program, which functionally has nothing to do with the educational program.  The transportation program is an accommodation to the community.  The current program of replacing buses is a compromise that works.  It minimizes the impact of costs and provides the District with relatively modern equipment.  The expenditure of more funds would be necessary to lower the age of the Districts equipment. 

Ms. Drioli said the first few years a school district contracts out its transportation and the company purchases its bus fleet, it saves the District money.  However, after a few years the transportation cost increases.  As an example, Ms. Drioli cited the transportation cost (contracted service) of the Council Rock School District, which exceeds Neshaminys transportation cost.  She said having its own fleet saves school districts money. 

Mr. Eccles complimented the Transportation Department, management, leadership and drivers, on the job they have done this year.  Mr. Schoenstadt said the Transportation Departments response to complaints and problems has improved greatly this year.  Mr. Paradise said one of the reasons service has improved this year is because the Board was so receptive to Mr. Blaschs idea to eliminate some bus stops.  This allowed the Transportation Department to deal with a lot of issues. 

The three bids and Budget Transfer Report No. 02-4 (working copy) will be presented for approval at the February 26 Public Meeting.

7.         Superintendents Report

a.  Blue Ribbon Committee Visitation to Maple Point Middle School

Information distributed prior to the meeting.  Dr. Bowman advised the Board out of 352 schools  across the nation, 175 schools were selected for site visits.  The Maple Point Middle School is one of the schools that will be visited.  The visitation will take place in March.  The District is one step closer to having another school recognized as a Blue Ribbon School.  There will be an evening meeting so the site visitor can meet with parents and Board members. 

b.       Bucks County Technical High School Student Accounting

Information distributed prior to the meeting.  Dr. Bowman noted 238 Neshaminy students are enrolled in the Technical High School, which is 18.20 percent of  the enrollment.  The Districts allocation is 25.60 percent.  Since the District is 7 percent lower than its allowed enrollment, the Districts cost will be lower the following year.

Mrs. Butville explained one of the reasons Neshaminys Technical High School enrollment is low is because the Technical High School is a grades 9 through 12 school.  In Neshaminy, ninth graders are the upperclassmen in the middle schools.  The students do not want to leave their last year in the middle school to attend the Technical High School.  If the high school included grade nine, the District would probably fill its enrollment allotment.  There will be very few spots available for tenth graders.  Dr. Bowman stated 238 Neshaminy students are taking advantage of the Technical High Schools programs.  It is projected there will be space for 400 ninth graders next year.

      c.   Mr. Paul Minotti Pennsylvania Registered School Business Official

Mr. Minottis achievement was recognized under the announcements portion of the meeting.

d.   The Parenting Center of Neshaminy School District

Information distributed prior to the meeting.  Dr. Bowman advised the Board that the Neshaminy School District is part of a partnership program with the Saint Mary Medical Center.  Neshaminy is recognized as a parenting center.  Programs on various issues are offered at the Neshaminy, Bristol Township and Bensalem School Districts.  The District offers programs at the Tawanka, Lower Southampton and Schweitzer Elementary Schools to help parents become more effective parents.  After the closure of the Tawanka Elementary School, the program will be made available in another Lower Southampton school.

e.        2002-2003 Commonwealth Budget Proposal

Information distributed prior to the meeting.  Dr. Bowman reported the budget as presented by the Governor will result in Neshaminy receiving $178,000 of new money, which is less than one mill.  The three major issues that will be tremendous budget challenges are the employee insurance program, retirement contribution rate change and regular contractual obligations.  He explained at one time the retirement rate paid by school districts was 9 percent and the state paid 9 percent.  The percentage was reduced and it represented a few thousand dollars savings for the District. At the state level, it represented hundreds of thousands dollars of savings.  The retirement rate reduction helped reduce the budget significantly at the state level.  The Pennsylvania School Business Officials have annually issued a warning statement urging the state to stop reducing the retirement contribution rate because some day the difference will have to be made up.  Due to the change in the stock market and other issues, this year the rate has to be increased.  The stock market represents 1 to 2 percent of the portfolio.  The issue is not having to make up the loss in the stock market, but having to make up all the retirement rate reductions over the past years.  After the reductions, the employees were only paying 5 percent and the school districts were paying 1.09 percent.  The employees are now going to pay 7 percent.

Mr. Schoenstadt stated the Secretary of Education elected to make up the funds for the retirement plan all in one lump sum rather than over a four year period as recommended by the actuarial.  There was no concern for the impact on the 501 school districts. 

f.         Administrative Vacancies

Dr. Bowman advised the Board the administration is in the process of determining staffing.  With the closing of the Tawanka School, the staffing process needs to be accelerated.  He recommended all the administrative vacancies that are anticipated between now and the end of June be posted.  Posting and filling the administrative positions will allow Mr. Jones to accelerate the staff requests.  Staff members like to know who the building principal will be for next year. A 7:00 p.m. session can be scheduled for the Board members to meet with the principal appointments.  Dr. Bowman and Mr. Wilson are working as a team on the administrative positions. 

There was Board consensus for Dr. Bowmans recommendation to post the administrative vacancies.

8.         Items for Information

a.  JROTC Survey Letter

Copy of survey letter distributed prior to the meeting.  Dr. Bowman advised the Board Mr. Wyatt is in the process of surveying the ninth and tenth graders as to their interest in the United States Junior Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Program. 

      b.   Comprehensive Annual Financial Report

Comprehensive Annual Financial Report distributed at the meeting.  Mr. Paradise briefly reviewed the report.  Mr. Paradise advised the Board the past ten years the District has won a national award for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.  Mr. Paradise pointed out the following regarding the report:

         Page F-4 lists the fund balance (unreserved/undesignated) as of June 30, 2001, which was $7,752,800.  The fund balance is higher than anticipated. Due to the administration aggressively going after revenues, controlling expenditures and cost containment efforts, last years budget has been under spent and over received.  When the budget was adopted last June, it was $4,000,000 higher than it had revenues to support it.  The difference was to be made up with the fund balance.  Since the budget was under spent and over received, it was not necessary to use the fund balance funds. 

         Statistics section of the report includes ten year expenditure and revenue data.  The section includes charts reflecting how the tax dollars are spent and revenue sources. 

         Page S-18 lists the Districts debt service.  The Districts ratio of debt service to general fund expenditures is 4.35 percent.  The Standard and Poor Report stated Neshaminys debt service ratio was quite low.  If the Board chooses to do so, the District could handle more debt. 

         Page S-19 includes a chart showing the relationship of enrollment to population.  The chart reflects the trend that as the Districts population increases, the enrollment decreases.  The percentage of residents with school age children is decreasing. 

Dr. Bowman complimented Mr. Paradise, Mrs. Donovan and the business office staff for compiling such a well done report.  He noted the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report has been an award winning document for the District and another award is anticipated for the most recent report.

Dr. Spitz referred to the chart on page S-22 listing the instructional expense per pupil and noted the $1,000 increase from 2000 to 2001.  Mr. Paradise explained the 2001 expense number is not a final number.  It was necessary to produce the report before the average daily membership number was finalized.  Once the number is finalized, the report will be adjusted. 

Mr. Schoenstadt noted the report points out that there has to be careful scrutiny to ensure the staffing and instructional costs are adjusted to reflect the decline in enrollment. Issues such as middle school and high school curriculum and class size need to be reviewed. Dr. Bowman explained currently, class size is reviewed.  If too few students enroll for a foreign language course in the middle schools, the students are scheduled for their second choice.  Mr. Schoenstadt recommended the Educational Development Committee begin to evaluate the relationship between the enrollment decline and curriculum offered, guidance counselors and minimum class size.  Dr. Bowman noted this year the Board closed a school, which will result in a savings of over $800,000 next year. 

      c.   Channel One Letter to Parents of Secondary Students

Information distributed prior to the meeting.  Dr. Bowman noted a copy of the letter distributed to parents regarding Channel One has been sent home to parents.  He advised the Board he has received two requests from parents that their children be excused from viewing Channel One.  Accommodations have been made for the students.  They have an alternative homeroom to attend and are not required to watch Channel One.  As these types of situations occur, they will be addressed. 

Mr. Mecleary inquired what other subjects are alternate accommodations made for students.  Dr. Bowman explained alternate accommodations are made for the Health Program.  Mr. Wyatt stated alternate accommodations are also made for Biology (reproduction) and Health and Human Development.  There are only a few courses where this occurs. 

9.   Committee Reports

a.    Educational Development Committee

Mrs. Butville reported the committee reviewed Special Education Reading Program textbooks.  Dr. Spitz reported a proposal was presented to change the Social Studies curriculum for seventh grade.  Dr. Boccuti will distribute a copy of the committee meeting minutes to the Board members.

b.       Educational Foundation

Mr. Dengler reported the Foundation awarded 38 grants to staff members, which total $15,500.  Every school in the District received grant funds.  The maximum grant award amount was $500.  The grants are for funding of projects that could not otherwise be funded in the budget.

c.        Building Utilization/Finance Committee

Mr. Eccles reported the committee is scheduled to meet on March 26, 4:00 p.m., at Neshaminy High School.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated Mr. Paradise will try to schedule an additional committee meeting prior to March 26.

d.       Intermediate Unit Board

Ms. Drioli reported it appears the Districts contribution to the Intermediate Unit budget will remain the same as this years contribution. 

e.        Board Policies Committee

Mrs. Butville reported after the student attendance policy has been in effect a full year, it will be reviewed for possible revisions.  The committee has participated in several conference calls with other school districts regarding activity participation by home schoolers policies.  The committee is reviewing Neshaminys policy in regard to home schoolers participating in School District activities. 

f.         Information Committee

Mrs. Butville reported the committee is working on the annual report.  She advised the Board of a school calendar, which could include all of the schools activities, that could be printed free of charge for the District.  Students artwork could be included in the calendar.  The calendar will include advertising. 

g.       Legislative Committee

Mrs. Butville reported she attended the Pennsylvania School Boards Legislative Leadership Conference, January 25 and 26.  A conference workshop was held on school funding/finance reform.  The Rhoades proposal has been reintroduced and appears to have the greatest chance of being approved.  There are many other proposals.  Representative Micozzies proposal has been found to include a $500,000,000 mistake.  This proposal has been reworked and reintroduced.  The PSBA is working on a Alliance for School Aide Partnership proposal.  The PSBAs proposal is similar to the ESPE proposal, but the formula includes a definite unmanipulatable number. 

Mrs. Butville stated education in Pennsylvania is in a near crisis situation in regard to funding.  A new organization, Good Schools Pennsylvania, is trying to inform and get the general public involved in education.  The organization is urging residents to write their legislators.  The organization is aligned with Representative Micozzies proposal. 

Mrs. Butville reported other conference workshops pertained to school construction, employee retirement program and State Board update (Chapter 21-school construction).  Three areas of concern at the conference were world languages, awards/state seals and new federal mandates.  Pennsylvania is much more in line with the federal mandates than the other states.  Another major topic at the conference was cyber schools.  House Bill 1733 and Senate Bill 891 remove cyber schools from the charter school law.  Both bills have passed committees.  PSBA is proposing that cyber schools only be allowed as state-run schools (approved and run by the state) or one run by the local Intermediate Unit for only the Intermediate Units own district students.  The largest problem with the cyber schools is accountability. 

Mrs. Butville reported the Legislative Action Council met and decided the top three priorities will be funding for public education, special education funding and cyber schools.  On March 2 the PSBA will hold its lobby day in Harrisburg, which provides an opportunity for Board members to meet with legislators and express their concerns.

h.       Technical School Board

Mr. Dengler reported the Technical School Board reviewed the funding method issue.  The recent dinner theater, Little Shop of Horrors, was well attended. 

i.         Technology Committee

Mr. Schoenstadt reported the committee will meet later this month. A definite date has not been established yet.  He inquired since the District now has a first class facility, could Neshaminys Speak Your Piece forum be held in the Districts facility.  Mrs. Butville said for that to be done, it would be necessary to have sponsors to pay for the engineer and host of the program.  The cost would be approximately $300. 

Mr. Eccles explained the District entered into a gentlemens agreement with WBCB regarding the advertising of the show.  WBCB could probably obtain sponsors, but they would want to include the sponsors in the advertisement that is running in the District.  By doing that the District may be crossing a fine line.  If the program is held at the school, sponsors would be needed.  Mr. Schoenstadt suggested the issue be investigated to determine if a compromise could be reached.

Mr. Eccles pointed out the Speak Your Piece Program is a breakthrough for the District.  It has allowed the District to barter some advertising for air time.  He cautioned the Board about shortchanging the District by losing revenue.  When someone else puts an advertisement in along with Neshaminys program advertisement, WBCB is making money.  Neshaminy is losing revenue at that point.  In the future, possibly the District could find sponsors for the program.  He felt the Board should honor its agreement with WBCB.  Mrs. Butville inquired if another sponsor was obtained and their advertisement ran during the shows break, does their advertisement need to be in print also.  Mr. Eccles indicated various advertising options can be reviewed.  He felt the Board should continue the program, because it shows the Boards willingness to be open and comment on issues.  Mrs. Butville suggested consideration be given to the District producing its own program at the high school and format it for viewing on the Neshaminy cable channel.  The program would not go out over the radio waves, but would be broadcast over Neshaminys cable channel to the Neshaminy residents.  Dr. Bowman recommended the Board fulfill its commitment for this year and then review its options (videotaping for viewing on cable channel, etc.)

10. Future Topics

The budget will be a future topic.

11. Agenda Development

Dr. Bowman reviewed the agenda items for the February 26 Public Meeting.

12. Correspondence

Mrs. Calvello distributed to the Board members the ballot for election of members to the Bucks County Schools Intermediate Unit Board of Directors.  Board members were to complete the ballots and return them to Mrs. Calvello for mailing to the Intermediate Unit.

Dr. Bowman pointed out the banner on display in the Board Room that was signed by policemen, firemen and rescue workers at ground zero.  A group of people from the Neshaminy Middle School served meals to the policemen, firemen and rescue workers for the day at Ninos Restaurant.  The policemen, firemen and rescue workers signed the banner as they left the restaurant.  The banner will be on display at the Neshaminy Middle School.

13. Other Board Business

Dr. Spitz noted the Board members have received letters from the residents and inquired if the issues outlined in the letters have been addressed.  Dr. Bowman explained he receives every letter that the Board members receive.  The letters are forwarded to the appropriate director to address (elementary education issues, Mr. Marotto; secondary education issues, Mr. Wyatt; etc.).  Some of the issues cannot be solved, but they are addressed and reviewed. 

Dr. Spitz referred to two recent letters regarding the redistricting of eight fifth graders from the Lower Southampton School to the Heckman School.  The letters requested the students be allowed to remain at the Lower Southampton School for fifth grade.  Dr. Bowman explained similar requests have been received from residents of the Tanglewood section.  No exceptions are being made.  Mr. Wilson said a response is sent to the letters.  He explained the day after the Board adopted the new attendance boundaries, ten requests were received for exceptions.  No exceptions were made. A response was sent to each request.

Dr. Spitz noted the eleventh grade PSSA writing assessment test was administered over a three day period.  The assessment test itself was a one-hour examination each day.  Regular classes for all other students in the high school did not start until 10:45 a.m.  The eleventh graders had to be in school by 6:55 a.m.  Therefore, it took four hours to administer a one-hour test.  For the three days, it equated to 12 hours for three hours of testing.  He expressed concern about the disruption of four hours of class time and inquired why it took so long to administer the test.  Dr. Bowman requested Mr. Wyatt review the issue and provide a response at the March Work Session.   Dr. Bowman explained the testing environment is designed to provide the students with the best opportunities to score as high as possible on the tests.  The Districts scores have been increasing. 

Mrs. Bostwick expressed disappointment that the District is still subjecting the students to a vast wasteland, Channel One. 

Mrs. Butville suggested to save paper when photocopying news articles for distribution to the Board, several small articles be copied on one piece of paper and articles be copied on both sides of the paper. 

Mr. Dengler moved the meeting be adjourned and Mrs. Butville seconded the motion.  The Board approved the motion with eight ayes.Mr. Schoenstadt adjourned the meeting at 9:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Carol A. Calvello
Board Secretary

 
 

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