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The Neshaminy Board of School Directors met in public session on January 22, 2002 at the Carl Sandburg Middle School.  The following persons were in attendance:

BOARD MEMBERS:

ADMINISTRATORS:

Mr. Steven Schoenstadt, President

Dr. Gary Bowman

Mrs. June Bostwick, Vice President

Dr. Raymond Boccuti

Mrs. Yvonne Butville*
Mr. Harry Dengler, Jr.

Mr. Harry Jones
Mr. Richard Marotto

Ms. Carol Drioli

Mr. Joseph Paradise

Mr. Richard Eccles

Mr. P. Howard Wilson

Mrs. Kimberly Jowett
George Mecleary, Jr., Esq.

Mr. Bruce Wyatt 

Dr. William Spitz

SOLICITOR:

 

Kristina Wiercinski, Esq.

SECRETARY:  Mrs. Carol Calvello

 

 

STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE:
Miss Sabrina Ziermer

OTHERS
:
  Approximately 50 persons from the

*Arrived at 8:30 p.m.

public, staff and press

 

Prior to the meeting, the Sandburg Middle School Woodwind Ensemble, under the direction of Mr. Morris, and the Sandburg Middle School Men�s Chorus, under the direction of Ms. Welwood and Ms. Fitt, performed several selections.

Call to Order Mr. Schoenstadt called the meeting to order at 8:00 p.m.

Announcements Dr. Bowman thanked Dr. Davis, Sandburg Middle School principal, and Mr. McDonough, Sandburg Middle School assistant principal, for hosting the meeting.  He also thanked the Sandburg School PTO for providing refreshments at the meeting.

Dr. Bowman pointed out the Sandburg School students� artwork was on display in the school lobby.  He said the Sandburg Middle School�s program is an example of the comprehensive fine arts program available to all Neshaminy students.  He congratulated Ms. Guertin and Mr. Wallerstein for providing exhibits of the typical type of artwork in the middle schools and thanked the students for their fine efforts.

Student Representative Report Miss Ziemer, student representative, reported the following:

         The Student Council will sponsor a Valentine�s Day dance on February 8.

         A talent show is being planned for March.

         Gym Night will be held the first weekend in March.

         The student comedy show �Laughing Stock� will be held February 21, 22 and 23.

         The school musical will be held on February 13.

         The third annual senior picnic is being planned.

         The school trips have been reinstated.

         The juniors are required to take the PSSA test in February.

         There are mixed emotions among students regarding the use of drug-sniffing dogs in the high school.  Some students feel it keeps the school safe.  If students do not have anything to hide, it is not a problem.  Other students feel it is a breach of their rights. 

Board Recognition Dr. Bowman explained traditionally January is the month that School Board members are honored across the state of Pennsylvania.  In appreciation of the Board members� service to the Neshaminy community, Dr. Bowman presented to each Board member a recognition certificate and  Neshaminy desk caddy.

Dr. Bowman noted the Board members have a tremendously important job.  They serve the community and make decisions to ensure there is quality education throughout the schools.  He thanked the current and previous Board members he has worked with for helping Neshaminy be one of the finest school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and being recognized as an outstanding school district.

Public Comment There was a three minute time limit per speaker.  Ms. Hope Cunningham, Levittown, thanked the Sandburg Middle School Men�s Chorus for singing about one of the country�s most valuable assets, freedom.  She stated due to the events of September 11, people are worried about their freedom.  The only way to keep your freedom is to fight for it.  The use of search dogs in schools is a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  The Amendment is a part of the Bill of Rights.  She stated we are not to be searched unless there is reasonable cause.  Ms. Cunningham stated the reason for the Bill of Rights is the distribution of power in this country.  Power to the executives, legislators, justices and the people.  The Bill of Rights is power to the people.  If people do not know their rights, they cannot defend their rights.  The students do not know their rights, and most adults do not know their rights.  She urged people to learn their Constitutional rights.  She announced she has a brochure available to the public outlining the rights of citizens and she is listed on the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvanias Web site.

Ms. Cunningham said do not let these dogs trample our children.  It is not fair.  It does not cost any money to give the children freedom.  It does not cost a dime to teach the children about dignity, self-respect and self-worth.  She cited and commended the George Schools educational program. She said just because we have a public education system, does not mean we deserve dogs on our children.

Mr. Schoenstadt explained there was a precedent set by the State Supreme Court ruling in 1994 regarding searches of  high school students lockers being constitutional.  The State Supreme Court overruled the lower court ruling in the state of Pennsylvania in 1994.  The State Supreme Court stated by using these highly trained dogs, the principal was able to further minimize the nature of intrusion on students.  Only a few of the 2,000 lockers were actually opened.  At the same time, the principal was able to meet the compelling necessity of addressing the serious danger caused when drugs invade the public school environment.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated there is sufficient justification, on a legal basis, for the School Boards ruling.  Mr. Mecleary pointed out the first time drug-sniffing dogs were used within the District they found a bottle of Aqua Velva.  Mr. Schoenstadt commented that he was glad it was not something else.  It verified that the school was, in fact, drug free.

Dr. Bowman stated he has seen some childrens lives ruined and their families become dysfunctional because of a drug problem.  He said if we save one child, it will be worth the effort.  As long as I am permitted by law and there is a School Board Policy that empowers me to use search dogs, I will have search dogs, not searching students, but going by lockers and automobiles park on School District property.  This tool will be used as a prevention tool.  When the word is out, drugs stop coming into the school.  Neshaminy High School is not any different than any other school.  There is no perfect place where there are no drugs.  The District needs to be proactive. 

Dr. Bowman explained the search dogs are not police dogs.  A private agency, which the Intermediate Unit is developing a contract with, will be used for the searches.  The administration feels confident that student rights will not be violated.  The search dogs will not be sniffing students, but will be checking lockers and automobiles.  The administration will do its best to provide a drug-free environment with this prevention tool.  Some students will probably get caught with drugs.

Mr. Hudon, Levittown, said is the Board and administration trying to stop drugs in the schools or children on drugs?  He felt using search dogs will not stop anyone from using drugs.  The individuals will just use drugs some place else.  The District needs to stimulate, educate and reduce hate in the schools.  If the children are made to feel like problems of society, they will become problems of society.  He urged the Board to not abuse the rights students were born with and granted.  He said empower the students to take charge by informing and educating them.  Make the students feel special and give them hope there is a future in this country.  Do not make the students feel like criminals.  There is no strength through fear, but there is through compassion.  Children go through mental and physical changes through adolescence.  The use of search dogs will depress the students and make them feel insignificant.  The only place children have to go to feel respected or important is school, their home away from home.  He asked over the years, how many students lockers have been invaded.  He said the students are not the problem.

Ms. Rebecca Cunningham, Morrisville, explained her niece attends Neshaminy High School, and she supports the initiative to stop the use of search dogs in Neshaminy High School.  She stated she has always admired the Neshaminy School District and considered it an innovator in education.  She explained she has done some work with the District through the Bucks County Peace Center.  She advised the Board she is a peace educator and conflict resolution specialist.  She expressed concern that the other school districts are looking to Neshaminy to see if the search dog program works.  If it supposedly works in Neshaminy, other school districts will institute the program.  She noted the Pennsbury School District has already instituted the program and the Council Rock School District is considering instituting the program.

Ms. Cunningham explained she has been working on the issue of school climate the last nine months in the Philadelphia School District.  In the Philadelphia schools there are metal detectors, non-teaching aides, school police and security cameras and the schools are still completely out of control.  She felt the use of search dogs may have a short-term affect.  She recommended the Board consider a long-term resolution.  She offered to share her ideas and initiatives taken in other schools regarding finding a long-term resolution to the issue, which includes student empowerment.  She said students must find out and be clear what their responsibilities are on this issue.  Students and parents need to be involved in the issue.  The use of search dogs takes the responsibility away from the students to do anything about the drug issue.  The students need to be a part of the resolution.  Currently, part of the problem in the schools is the disempowerment of students. 

Mrs. Butville arrived at the meeting at 8:30 p.m.

Ms. Bianchino, Langhorne-attendance grid 2P, read Dr. Abrahams, Everitt School principal, letter addressed to the Board regarding attendance grip 2P.  In the letter Dr. Abraham asked the Board to not act to move attendance grid 2P from the Samuel Everitt School at this time (see attachment I).

Ms. Ramella, Langhorne-attendance grid 2P, noted Dr. Bowman recently held a very informative meeting with parents.  She stated the parents do not want their children transferred to another school.  As stated in Dr. Abrahams letter, the next three years are planned out and the figures work out fine.  The Everitt School is not overcrowded and no one is complaining.  She requested the Board allow the students located in attendance grid 2P to remain at the Everitt School.

Ms. Donlon, Langhorne-attendance grid 2P, explained her two children would be affected by the proposed attendance boundary change.  She noted under the proposal, some of the students will attend three different schools in three years (current elementary school, new elementary school and middle school) with three different sets of friends.  She urged the Board to allow the students to remain at the Everitt School.  If the students must be transferred to another school, transfer the students to an elementary school where they will move along to the middle school with the same students.

Ms. Hicks, Langhorne-attendance grid 2P, explained her daughter, who had an IEP, attended the Everitt School.  The teachers worked with her, she successfully completed her classes and is currently attending the Maple Point Middle School.  Her son currently attends third grade at the Everitt School.  He is in his first year of his IEP Program and the teachers are working with him.  It will be very hard for him to adapt to a new school.  She asked the Board to allow the students of attendance grid 2P to continue attending the Everitt School.

Mr. Timbone, Langhorne-attendance grid 2P, referred to information available on the American Academy of Child and Adolescence Psychology Web site.  He stated research shows change interrupts childrens lives, interrupts friendships and sometimes can cause children to regress and not adapt well.  Change is not that easy for children.  Mr. Timbone stated the 65 children located in attendance grid 2P are students and are not numbers.  In light of the events of September 11, it is not a time to relocate students because of numbers.  It is a time to think about the children.

Ms. Gulick, attendance grid 2P, implored the Board to revisit and reevaluate attendance grid 2P.  She requested the Board allow the children located in attendance grid 2P to remain at the Everitt School.

Mr. Moore, Langhorne-attendance grid 2P, noted attendance grid 2P was first scheduled to be transferred to the Hoover School and then scheduled to be moved to the Schweitzer School.  He said the parents have never been told why attendance grid 2P is the wild card in the process.  Mr. Marotto had stated to parents at a recent meeting that 20 months ago he had identified attendance grid 2P as a problem to  redistricting.  Mr. Moore said for some reason attendance grid 2P is not really attached to any school.  He pointed out the parents are apprehensive about the change and concerned about the adverse affects of the change.  District officials have assured the parents things will be running smoothly by October.  He expressed concern about the adjustments students will have to make in September.

Mr. Moore explained there is concern the students will not attend the same middle school as their elementary classmates.  Parents have been told to be careful what they wish for.  Students might be forced to attend the Sandburg Middle School.  He felt the problems regarding the relocation of students have not been met with open minds, but with minds that were made up before officials spoke with parents.  He asked the Board to keep an open mind and ensure that everyone is treated fairly.  He stated while it is not possible to make everyone happy, it should be possible to demonstrate fairness in the process.

Mr. Moore said if walkers to the school were eliminated from the redistricting equation, any of the areas with students bussed to the Everitt School would be possible candidates for a relocation to another school.  However, only attendance grid 2P is being moved from the Everitt School and was the only area considered for relocation.  There are many families in houses and apartments across the street from attendance grid 2P, but they seem to be exempt from consideration for possible relocation.  He felt the way attendance grid 2P was moved from the Everitt School to the Hoover School to the Schweitzer School demonstrates the lack of consideration the area has received.  He asked what the residents of attendance grid 2P have done to receive the label problem group. 

Mr. Moore recommended attendance grid 2P remain at the Everitt School.  He stated the projections show a decrease in the Everitt Schools population.  The enrollment will not change for several years, as many as five years.  Allowing the students to remain at the school, will permit the Board and administration to fairly address all the families in the current Everitt School area and reach a decision, not based on a decision made two years ago, but based on many changes and more current data.  He urged the Board to approve all of the proposed attendance changes, except the attendance grid 2P change, and allow attendance grid 2P to remain at the Everitt School.

Ms. Moore, Langhorne-attendance grid 2P, questioned the necessity for changing the students located in attendance grid 2P to the Schweitzer School.  She felt the residents of attendance grid 2P are being taken advantage of because 2P includes a much smaller number of students than the 240 students Mr. Marotto said he was able to keep in their home schools.  Attendance grid 2P was identified as a problem area 20 months ago.  It is being targeted in an attempt to solve the declining enrollment at the Schweitzer School.  This is the only issue.  There is no problem at the Everitt School.  The parents are happy and the school does not want the students of attendance grid 2P to leave the school.  Moving the attendance grid 2P students will hurt the Everitt School.  The school will lose teachers, a group of involved and supportive parents and a great group of students.  The school is not overcrowded and its resources are not spread too thin.  The problem lies in the Schweitzer Schools enrollment.

Ms. Moore stated she realizes the Board must look at the whole picture.  Making the decision to close a school was very difficult and now the Board is faced with the challenge of relocating the Tawanka students for the start of the next school year.  She recommended the issue of changing the home school of the attendance grid 2P students be treated as a separate issue.  Since it is not related to the closing of the Tawanka School, there is no urgency to make this decision and it does not need to be put in place by next year.  She stated the relocation of attendance grid 2P to the Schweitzer School has only recently been proposed.  It has not been considered over the last 20 months as the rest of the process has been considered.  She felt the decision seems very rushed, which adds to the parents concerns.  She requested the Board remove attendance grid 2P from the attendance boundary changes the Board will be voting on later in the meeting.

Ms. Russell, Langhorne-attendance grid 2P, questioned how the students can adjust to their transfer to the Schweitzer School when it is not known who will be the schools principal next year and what type of curriculum will be offered.  She expressed concern about the transfer of students from an elementary school only facility (Everitt School) to an elementary school facility connected to a middle school (Schweitzer School), which will result in the younger elementary students having contact with middle school students.  She emphasized her concern that it will be very difficult for the students entering first grade to adjust to a new school.  Ms. Russell urged the Board to not relocate the attendance grid 2P students.

Mr. Clark, Levittown, expressed his thanks to the Board members, Business Office staff, Neshaminy High School staff and Sandburg Middle School staff  for their condolences the last two weeks.  He explained four years ago, when he was a Board member, he argued against the use of search dogs, because he believed it was in opposition to the rights provided in the United States Constitution.  He commended the Board for tackling the issue of search dogs in the schools. 

Mr. Clark explained he had previously served on the School Board for six years and pointed out the importance of the decisions made by the Board.  Mr. Clark thanked Mr. Dengler and Ms. Drioli for voting along with him when the Board voted to hire Mark Schmidt.  He explained he recently attended the football banquet and no comments were made thanking the Board for supporting the program within the District. He noted how difficult an issue redistricting is and whenever redistricting takes place there will be some complaints.  He thanked the Board members for their service to the Neshaminy community, and said the Board is doing a phenomenal job in many areas.  He noted Dr. Bowman was instrumental in the process of having companies partner with the School District.  Over the last five years, McCafferty Ford has gone the extra mile in many different ways to provide support to the District.  It has provided financial support for various events and programs.

Ms. Wilcox, Penndel, explained she is a Hoover School parent-attendance grid 3A, and expressed concern about name calling taking place as part of the redistricting issue.  She urged everyone to stop the neighborhood name calling.  She pointed out the children from the various neighborhoods will be interacting together at school. 

Ms. Wilcox advised the Board there are parents who support the Boards decision to utilize search dogs.  She stated she sets a good example for her children and teaches them right from wrong.  However, she cannot control what they do or possess outside of her home.  If, as teenagers often do, they make poor decisions before parents know about them, at least now we can step in and help before it spirals out of control.  My children know they are valued and have been taught to respect themselves.  She said she intends to see that her childrens peers do not steal that away from them.  She thanked the Board for helping to protect her children, because that is what they need. 

Ms. Buhler, Penndel-attendance grid 2P, felt the redistricting of attendance grid 2P is not based on urgency but theoretical potential need in the future.  She recommended a slower and less abrupt way to change the attendance ratios in the schools be utilized.  She said if 60 students are transferred to the Schweitzer School, the Schweitzer School will immediately need three to four additional teachers and classroom setups, which has financial implications.  She recommended a phase-in plan be utilized over the next five to ten years that would allow the existing Everitt School student population and their upcoming siblings to complete their elementary education at their home school.  She noted the length of West Durham Road is approximately 1.5 miles with four to five bus stops.  One bus could make stops at two different schools or two buses could be assigned to the area to transport the students to the two schools during the phase-in period.  Parents would have the option to transfer their children to the new school sooner, which would accelerate the transfer of students.  She estimated it would take approximately five years to complete the phase-in.  She said her children would like to remain at the Everitt School and graduate from their current home school.  She urged the Board to reconsider the relocation of the attendance grid 2P students.

Mr. Lindner, former Neshaminy teacher, administrator and coach, said Neshaminy is the greatest School District in the state of Pennsylvania and has the greatest School Board in the state of Pennsylvania.  He said wherever the students attend school in the Neshaminy School District, they are attending a Blue Ribbon School.  He explained it has been his experience that the parents are more fearful of change than the students.  When change comes about, the students seem to adapt very easily.  He said the Board members do a magnificent job.  He pointed out The Board members are elected by the residents of the Neshaminy School District and not paid for their many hours of work to make Neshaminy the best school district.  Mr. Lindner said if the use of search dogs can prevent one child from being involved with drugs, one child is saved, that dog has done his job.  He felt the use of search dogs in the schools has been a long time coming.

Board Comment Mr. Mecleary referred to Ms. Buhlers comments regarding a phase-in program for attendance grid 2P students, and asked how many would support a phase-in program.  A number of parents raised their hands to indicate they would support such a plan.  The parents indicated they favored the current Everitt School students and their siblings being allowed to complete their elementary education at the Everitt School and new enrollees attending another school.  

Ms. Drioli noted there are infringements on individuals civil rights when they make a purchase at some stores.  Customers are asked to provide their telephone number, etc.  She stated the use of search dogs has nothing to do with civil rights.  It has to do with the protection of children.  It will serve as a deterrent.  She explained she has concern for the children and especially the child who is not strong enough to say no.

Ms. Drioli referred to comments presented regarding Mr. Marotto identifying attendance grid 2P as a problem area.  She said in all of the time she has known Mr. Marotto, he has never, ever considered a child, group of children or section of the community a problem.  His concern is for the quality of education in the District and individual students.  She said Dr. Bowman and Mr. Marotto have never felt that any child in the District is a problem.  If the words problem area were used, it was not said in the context that Mr. Marotto or Dr. Bowman felt the children or attendance grid area is a problem to them.

Dr. Spitz inquired how retaining attendance grid 2P at the Everitt School would affect the teacher workloads at the two schools, would it create an imbalance and would it affect the Intermediate Unit students located at the Schweitzer School.  Dr. Bowman noted a school was closed, a school community was disrupted and the Board provided direction to the administration to balance out the enrollment throughout the entire School District.  It has been stated the last two years that just because one school is going to be closed, it does not mean other students will not be moved.  It is known that other students will be moved.  An effort has been made to accommodate as many students as possible.  The attendance grid 2P issue is one of balance between schools.  The capacity utilization under the following scenarios would be as follows: 

Attendance grid 2P remain at the Everitt School for the 2002-2003 school year

         Everitt School - 93 percent capacity utilization

         Schweitzer School - 70 percent capacity utilization

Attendance grid 2P moved to the Schweitzer School for the 2002-2003 school year

         Everitt School - 87 percent capacity utilization

         Schweitzer School - 90 percent capacity utilization

         Close to the average capacity utilization for the District

Five year projection if attendance grid 2P retained at Everitt School

         Everitt School 97 percent capacity utilization

         Schweitzer School 57 percent capacity utilization

Five year projection if attendance grid 2P part of Schweitzer School

         Everitt School 92 percent capacity utilization

         Schweitzer School 77 percent capacity utilization

Dr. Bowman pointed out the capacity utilization percentages do not include Intermediate Unit classes.  If there is no adjustment in the Schweitzer Schools attendance area, the Schweitzer School would almost become an Intermediate Unit Center for the School District.  The Schweitzer School is a community school and is not being considered for closure. 

Dr. Bowman explained another consideration in the redistricting process is the modular classrooms.  As a result of the public hearings, the Board directed the administration to not use modular classrooms for regular classrooms.  The appropriate adjustments had to be made to ensure all regular education students could fit into the regular classrooms and the modular classrooms would be used for only itinerant type programs. 

Dr. Bowman emphasized that the same curriculum, textbooks, programs and teacher training is used in all of the Districts elementary schools.  Neshaminy has a huge tradition of caring for its children and doing the best it can do so they do not fall through the cracks.  Any child that is moved or affected by the closure of a school will be taken care of and embraced by the teachers.  The students will be embraced with passion and love.  They will know they are cared for and people care for them.  The staff, Board and Neshaminy community place a value on education.  The Neshaminy community struggles with taxes but the people who live in the District also value education and have appropriate expectations.  He said he understands that parents do not want their children moved to another school.  However, the relocation of students will allow all students in the remaining elementary schools to have balanced opportunities.  In a small school the art, music and health and physical education teachers are in the building less than five days a week unless the Board is willing to spend extra money and have a terribly unbalanced teaching load.  An effort is being made to distribute students across the District and have a balanced capacity in the buildings so the same opportunities are provided throughout most of the buildings.  Every effort is made to be fair and do the right thing.  Sometimes that is not the popular thing to do.  It is an issue of utilization of facilities and economics.  The Board could say not to move attendance grid 2P.  However, in the future the Schweitzer School would be significantly underutilized and become a place where more Intermediate Unit classes will be added.  He questioned whether that would be fair to the Schweitzer community.   The Everitt School will be utilized almost to full capacity.  What is fair is balance throughout the entire School District. 

Dr. Bowman explained there have been no discussions whatsoever regarding a change in middle school attendance boundaries.  The Board has not even asked the administration to review middle school attendance boundaries.  The students located in the 2P attendance grid would attend the Maple Point Middle School.  The Maple Point Middle School has been recommended for Blue Ribbon evaluation and has been recognized as a School of Distinction.  Dr. Bowman said he believes all four of the Districts middle schools are quality Blue Ribbon Schools.  It is a matter of going through the required process to receive the recognition. 

Dr. Bowman said the Neshaminy community is a small community, 26 square miles.  There is not a huge difference between one place and another place in the community.  There is no educational difference in the schools.  A friendly, warm environment will be found in all of the schools.  Dr. Bowman commended Dr. McKee, the educational leader at the Tawanka Elementary School, for responding professionally throughout the entire process.

Mr. Eccles expressed concern about the students who would have to change schools twice in two years.  He inquired if any consideration has been given to this issue.  Ms. Drioli indicated she shares Mr. Eccles concern.  Dr. Bowman advised the Board in 1976 the Eisenhower and Hoover Elementary Schools were closed.  The closings took place a year after the Maple Point School was opened.  The community had difficulty reconciling the expenditure of funds for the opening of the Maple Point School in 1975 and closing two elementary schools in 1976.  The children from the two schools were relocated and attendance boundaries were realigned.  The children did well. Based on what has happened in the past, the administration has learned children handle the situation pretty well.  In 1986 the Hoover School was reopened and the attendance boundaries were changed again.  At no time was the attendance change phased in.  No matter when the change is phased in, people will be impacted.  The best thing to do is make the change, get behind it and everyone pull together to make it the best and smoothest transition for children.  Make it a positive event, a celebration.  Dr. Bowman said it is a difficult time and he respects the parents feelings.  The realignment of attendance boundaries is simply a matter of providing balance in the buildings.  It is not a matter of one section versus another section.  When modular classrooms are no longer used for regular classes, adjustments need to be made.  The Schweitzer School was being significantly underutilized and the decision, which made sense, was made to move attendance grid 2P to the Schweitzer School. 

Dr. Spitz inquired about the use of modular classrooms at the Everitt School this year and next year if the students from attendance grid 2P remained at the school.  Dr. Bowman explained currently at the Everitt School one modular classroom is used for a regular class and one is used for the Title I Program.  If attendance grid 2P were to remain at the Everitt School next year, the modular classrooms would be used for ancillary services, i.e., speech program, instrumental music, etc.  The students could probably be accommodated in regular classrooms next year.  The Everitt School is currently utilizing 94 percent of its capacity.  The school will be at 93 percent capacity utilization next year and capacity utilization will increase to 95 percent the following year. 

Motion:  Amend Agenda

Mr. Schoenstadt presented the following motion:

I move the agenda be amended to reflect that the next agenda item will be the elementary attendance boundaries  - 2002-2003 motion. 

Mr. Dengler seconded the motion.  The Board unanimously approved the motion.

Motion:  Elementary Attendance Boundaries 2002-2003

Mrs. Bostwick presented the following motion:

WHEREAS the Board of School Directors voted to close the Tawanka Elementary School at the end of the 2001-2002 school year; and

 

WHEREAS it is necessary to realign elementary school attendance boundaries to compensate for this change; and

 

WHEREAS, the Neshaminy School District has given the community the opportunity to provide input on proposed changes in elementary school attendance boundaries.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the attached elementary school attendance boundary plan (attachment II) be adopted and implemented as of the beginning of the 2002-2003 school year.

Mrs. Butville seconded the motion.

Mrs. Butville inquired if the attendance boundaries decision could be delayed two weeks until the February Work Session to allow for further review of the issue.  If the decision is delayed two weeks, what affect would the delay have on the staffing decisions?  Dr. Bowman reviewed the timetable, which is as follows:

         School closure decision - prior to January

         Attendance boundaries decision - January

         Use of Tawanka facility decision - February

Dr. Bowman stated the administration is in the process of building the budget and receiving staff members retirement letters.  The budget will be a huge challenge this year.  The administration proposed the  following timetable:

         Accelerate staffing from April 1 to an earlier date

         Post all administrative vacancies the end of February

         Appoint administrators by the end of March.  This will allow teachers to know who will be the educational leader (principal) for each building. 

Dr. Bowman explained delaying the decision will take time and energy away from other important issues that need to be addressed.  He pointed out retaining attendance grid 2P at the Everitt School will provide an imbalance in the facility and under utilization of the Schweitzer School.  The under utilization of a facility can result in additional costs, because the administration does not run any building with only one class of students.  There are always at least two sections of each grade, which allows for leveling in reading, etc.  He felt delaying the decision will not result in any new information being discovered.  All the information is available and has been discussed many times.

Mr. Mecleary indicated he favored a short delay to determine what a phase-in program would look like.  A phase-in program may be an opportunity to reach a compromise.   Dr. Bowman expressed concern about a phase-in program and said does the Board revisit the phasing in of closing a school?  Does the Board revisit the phasing in of other students being moved throughout the District?  Does the Board just revisit the phase-in of one region? 

Ms. Drioli suggested the elementary attendance boundaries 2002-2003 motion be approved with a footnote if the administration can make the change less painful, through any method, for the attendance grid 2P parents and students, the administration have the freedom to do so.  She also suggested if the motion is approved, those students who will be moved to different schools attend the same middle schools as those students in their new elementary schools.

Mrs. Butville stated there are many students who attend the Schweitzer School and go on to attend the Maple Point Middle School.  The students in attendance grid 2P would not be the only students graduating from the Schweitzer Elementary School and attending the Maple Point Middle School. 

Dr. Spitz felt the Board needs to give the administration direction and not leave the issue open for the administration to decide on student attendance.   He indicated he supported Mr. Meclearys suggestion that the attendance grid 2P decision be delayed until the February Work Session.  He recommended the Board approve the proposed elementary attendance boundaries, except for attendance grid 2P, at this time.  Ms. Drioli felt the Board needs to pass the motion now, but allow the administration some leeway as to the best way to handle attendance grid 2P.  She expressed concern if the Board decides to revisit the attendance grid 2P issue, it may result in revisiting the other associated issues of closing the Tawanka School and other redistricting issues.  Dr. Spitz stated no one is suggesting the Board reopen the issue of closing the Tawanka School or any issue regarding redistricting other than attendance grid 2P.  The only issue outstanding right now is attendance grid 2P.  If the motion is clearly amended, the attendance grid 2P issue can be dealt with specifically at the February Work Session. 

Mrs. Butville felt the Board needs to table the entire motion or vote on the motion as presented. If a decision is not made on the attendance grid 2P issue, Dr. Bowman will not be able to move forward on the projections.  Mrs. Bostwick pointed out the special education students are to be mainstreamed.  If the phase-in program is instituted for attendance grid 2P, the special education students will lose the opportunity to be mainstreamed.  All the special education students will be segregated in one location.

Mr. Eccles stated he was greatly saddened that the Tawanka School has been closed.  He felt if the Board does not abide by the administrations redistricting recommendation, the District could face another school closure.  He said he would not want to see another elementary school closed without first some redistricting taking place.

Mr. Schoenstadt noted after the Board voted to close the Tawanka School, it asked the administration to provide a sound educational plan on redistricting.  The administration has developed a plan, reviewed the plan with the community, listened to the community members concerns and still feels the plan outlined on the map attached to the elementary attendance boundaries 2002-2003 motion is sound educationally.

Mr. Schoenstadt requested a roll call vote on the elementary attendance boundaries 2002-2003 motion.  The tally of the roll call vote indicated the motion was approved with seven ayes, Mrs. Bostwick, Mrs. Butville, Mr. Dengler, Ms. Drioli, Mr. Eccles, Mrs. Jowett and Mr. Schoenstadt and two nays, Mr. Mecleary and Dr. Spitz.

Superintendents Report Dr. Bowman thanked the Sandburg Middle School students present at the meeting for serving as the student ambassadors.  He noted Mr. Keys, Bucks County Intermediate Unit, was in attendance at the meeting.  He reported the following:

         Joseph John Pishl has been approved to receive a Neshaminy High School diploma.  Mr. Pishl did not graduate from high school because he was called into the service for World War II.  He is currently living in Florida.  His diploma will be mailed to him. 

         Update on the Channel One Program distributed at meeting. Channel One representatives continue to address the issue of preventing students on ChannelOne.com from accessing adult content.  It is anticipated Channel One will have addressed the issue by the end of January. 

         Karen Wychocks, Neshaminy Middle School assistant principal, selection as 2002 Pennsylvania Assistant Principal of the Year will be celebrated at the February Public Meeting.  The meeting will be held at the Neshaminy Middle School.

         The annual football banquet was held on January 14.  The band members and cheerleaders put in a lot of extra time and effort into the state championship.  All members of the football team will receive championship rings as a result of corporate contributions.  There will be no cost to the District.  The following companies are sponsoring the rings:  First Union Bank - $2,500, First American - $2,500, BASCO Associates - $25,000, Bill Clark (Districts insurance representative) - $2,500 and McCafferty Auto Group - $2,500. 

         On January 25, 4:00 p.m., at Neshaminy High School the Hall of Fame inductee ceremony will be held.

Approval of Minutes Upon motion of Mr. Dengler, seconded by Mrs. Butville, the Board unanimously approved the minutes of the November 27, 2001, December 3, 2001 and January 8, 2002 Public Meetings.

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

         November 30 and December 31, 2001 Treasurers Reports, subject to audit

         Bills for payment for November and December 2001

         Six investments

         Budget Transfer Report No. 02-3 (working copy) which includes 11 transactions and subtransactions

         Personal and per capita tax exonerations for November, 2001 totaling 908 exonerations and December, 2001 totaling 922 exonerations

Mr. Paradise pointed out the Food Service Department Profit and Loss Reports for October and November 2001 reflect two profitable months for this self-supporting department.

Ms. Drioli moved the November and December 2001 Treasurers Reports, subject to audit, November and December 2001 bills for payment, Budget Transfer Report No. 02-3 (working copy), investments and November and December 2001 personal and per capita tax exonerations be approved.  Mr. Schoenstadt seconded the motion.

In response to a question raised by Mr. Eccles, Mr. Paradise explained all the items listed on the check register, even miscellaneous expenses, are included in the budget.  Mr. Eccles questioned check number 131185 payable to Boaters World for $129.99.  He noted the Board will soon be reviewing the budget and suggested there be a 10 percent reduction in expenses.  He said is the District paying retail prices or wholesale prices for the miscellaneous expenses?  Mr. Paradise explained the District purchases maps from Boaters World for the educational program.  Many of  the Districts purchases are through bids or group purchasing bids.  The administration does its best to obtain the best price.  The District budgets a per pupil allotment per school.  Therefore, it is to their advantage to try and obtain the best price. 

The Board unanimously approved the Treasurers Reports, subject to audit, bills for payment, investments, budget transfers and exonerations of personal and per capita tax.

Certified and Support Personnel Actions Dr. Bowman noted the Personnel Report reflects the new format requested by the Board.  He presented the following for approval:

         Elections Certified Staff

         Resignations and Leaves of Absence Certified Staff

         Elections and Changes of Classification Support Staff

         Resignations and Leaves of Absence Support Staff

         Sabbatical Leave of Absence Certified Staff (for information only)

The personnel information appears on pages H-1 through H-8 and the addendum pages H-1a, H-4a and H-7a. 

Ms. Drioli moved the personnel actions be approved and Mr. Dengler seconded the motion.

In response to Mrs. Butvilles question regarding the guidance counselor hiring, Dr. Bowman explained the hiring is not an additional position in the Guidance Department.  The individual being hired comes highly recommended and will be an asset to the guidance counselor team.  The concerns raised in the Guidance Department regarding communication, transcripts, etc. are being addressed collectively by the team of guidance counselors.

Dr. Spitz inquired about the meaning of the asterisk typed next to the L code on the Personnel Report.  Dr. Bowman explained the asterisk indicates the salary is prorated based upon the number of days of work.

The Board unanimously approved the personnel actions.

Motion:  Verizon Easement Walter S. Miller School

Mr. Dengler presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, Verizon has requested an easement on the Walter S. Miller Elementary School grounds in which to place a telecommunications and interface cabinet; and

 

WHEREAS, we believe the granting of this easement will benefit both the School District and the community; and

 

WHEREAS, the utility will compensate the District in the amount of $8,000 for the granting of this easement.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Neshaminy Board of School Directors grant the easement requested by Verizon, and to authorize the Business Administrator to execute the agreement, upon review of the Solicitor, in the name of and on behalf of the Neshaminy School District.

Mr. Eccles seconded the motion.  The Board unanimously approved the motion. 

Motion:  Election of Superintendent of Schools

Mr. Schoenstadt presented the following motion:

Pursuant to sections 1071 and 1073 of the Public School Code, the Board of School Directors is authorized to elect a qualified person to serve as District Superintendent;

 

AND, WHEREAS, the Neshaminy School District Board Secretary having duly notified the Board of School Directors of the intent to appoint a Superintendent of Schools.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Neshaminy Board of School Directors elect Mr. P. Howard Wilson as Superintendent of Schools for the Neshaminy School District to serve a term of five (5) years, July 1, 2002 through June 30, 2007.

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the President and the Secretary are hereby authorized and directed to execute a contract with Mr. P. Howard Wilson in the name of and behalf of the Neshaminy School District for this purpose to be subject to review by the School Districts solicitor. 

 

Further, I move that the President and Secretary are hereby authorized to direct and execute the application for the Superintendents commission for Mr. P. Howard Wilson to be submitted to the Department of Education so as to complete the election made herein.

 

Mrs. Bostwick seconded the motion. Dr. Spitz stated he hopes to work with Mr. Wilson closely and in a cordial manner over the next several years.  Mr. Schoenstadt requested a roll call vote on the motion.  The tally of the roll call vote indicated the election of Superintendent of Schools motion was unanimously approved by the Board.

Mrs. Butville congratulated Mr. Wilson on his election as Superintendent of the Neshaminy School District.  Dr. Bowman congratulated and invited Mr. Wilson to join the Board members at the Board table.  He stated both he and Mr. Wilson are committed to a seamless transition.  Mr. Wilson will not let the District down.  He will continue Neshaminys great tradition. 

Motion:  Attendance at National School Boards Association Conference

Ms. Drioli presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, attendance at a conference of the National School Boards Association provides Board members with excellent opportunities to review and analyze critical issues facing public education and opportunities for Board members to secure knowledge and skills that will benefit the School District; and

 

WHEREAS, Section 516.1 of the School Laws of Pennsylvania and School Board Policy 123, provide that members of the Board may attend the national conference with prior Board approval.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, as per Section 516.1 of the School Code and School Board Policy 123, that the Neshaminy Board of School Directors authorizes three Board members to attend the 2002 National School Boards Association Conference to be held

April 6-9, 2002.

Mr. Schoenstadt seconded the motion.  

Mr. Eccles explained in light of the Boards decision to close a school and the upcoming budget, he is opposed to Board members attending the conference in New Orleans.  It would not send the right message.  He urged the Board members not to vote in favor of the motion. 

Dr. Spitz inquired if any other Board members, aside from Mrs. Butville, have expressed an interest in attending the conference.  None of the other Board members indicated they were interested in attending the conference.

Mr. Dengler recommended since Mrs. Butville is the only Board member who has expressed an interest in attending the conference, the motion be amended to indicate only one Board member be authorized to attend the conference.

Amendment to Attendance at National School Boards Conference Motion

Mr. Dengler presented the following amendment:

I move the last paragraph of the attendance at National School Boards Association Conference motion be amended to authorize only one Board members attendance at the conference.  The amended paragraph read as follows:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, as per Section 516.1 of the School Code and School Board Policy 123, that the Neshaminy Board of School Directors authorizes one Board member to attend the 2002 National School Boards Association Conference to be held April 6-9, 2002.

Mr. Mecleary seconded the amendment.

Ms. Drioli indicated she was opposed to the amendment.  She recommended the motion be approved as originally presented and allow up to three Board members to attend the conference.

Mr. Schoenstadt requested a roll call vote on the amendment to the attendance at National School Boards Conference motion.  The roll call tally indicated the amendment failed with five nays, Mrs. Bostwick, Mrs. Butville, Ms. Drioli, Mr. Eccles, Mr. Schoenstadt and four ayes, Mr. Dengler, Mrs. Jowett, Mr. Mecleary and Dr. Spitz. 

Mr. Schoenstadt requested a roll call on the attendance at National School Boards Association Conference motion as originally presented.  The roll call tally indicated the motion failed with five nays, Mr. Dengler,  Mr. Eccles, Mrs. Jowett, Mr. Mecleary and Dr. Spitz and four ayes, Mrs. Bostwick, Mrs. Butville, Ms. Drioli and Mr. Schoenstadt.

Amendment to Attendance at National School Boards Conference Motion

Mr. Schoenstadt presented the following amendment:

I move the last paragraph of the attendance at National School Boards Association Conference motion be amended to authorize up to three Board members attendance at the conference.  The amended paragraph read as follows:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, as per Section 516.1 of the School Code and School Board Policy 123, that the Neshaminy Board of School Directors authorizes up to three Board members to attend the 2002 National School Boards Association Conference to be held April 6‑9, 2002. 

Mrs. Bostwick seconded the amendment. 

Ms. Drioli felt it would be a mistake to not have the Board represented at the National School Boards Conference.  She pointed out the Board and District benefit from information Board members obtain at  the conference.  She indicated she was in favor of allowing up to three Board members attend the conference.  She noted just because the motion states up to three Board members are authorized to attend the conference, it does not mean three Board members will attend the conference. 

Mrs. Jowett inquired about the per person cost of the conference.  Dr. Bowman estimated the cost of air fare, lodging, registration and meals would be $1,200 per person.  Mrs. Bostwick stated the cost of obtaining the same type of education at a college that the Board members obtain at the conference would be well over the $1,200 cost.  Ms. Drioli pointed out the cost of a weekend training session for required training is $400 to $500 per person. 

Mr. Schoenstadt noted at this time, only one Board member has expressed an interest in attending the conference.  Initially, three Board members indicated they were interested in attending the conference, but two of the Board members have withdrawn their names.  Mrs. Butville had attended a previous National School Boards Conference and provide an overwhelming amount of information to the Board, which the Board was able to utilize.  He pointed out Mrs. Butville has already registered ($555) and purchased her air fare ticket (less than $300).  He estimated the cost of her meals would be $200 to $300.  He felt attendance at the conference would be an inexpensive way to keep the Board updated and current. The Board would be doing itself a disservice by not allowing a Board member to attend the conference. 

Mrs. Butville pointed out she is one of the people serving on the Board who does not work full-time and she has the time to attend the conference.  The conference runs Friday through Tuesday.  She stated she feels it is her responsibility to attend the conference and bring the information back to those who cannot attend the conference.  The air fare cost is only $165 and the cost of meal will be very minimal.  Dr. Bowman said Mrs. Butville is a real conventioneer and works very hard at the convention.

Dr. Spitz stated he supports Mrs. Butville attending the conference, but not three Board members.  He agreed it would be beneficial for Mrs. Butville to attend the conference.  Mr. Mecleary concurred with Dr. Spitzs comments.  He suggested if another Board decides at a later date he/she wants to attend the conference, he/she could submit the request to the Board at that time.  Mr. Dengler stated he supports Mrs. Butville attending the conference.

Mr. Schoenstadt withdrew his amendment to allow up to three Board members to attend the conference.

Motion:  Attendance at National School Boards Conference Motion

Mr. Dengler presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, attendance at a conference of the National School Boards Association provides Board members with excellent opportunities to review and analyze critical issues facing public education and opportunities for Board members to secure knowledge and skills that will benefit the School District; and

 

WHEREAS, Section 516.1 of the School Laws of Pennsylvania and School Board Policy 123, provide that members of the Board may attend the national conference with prior Board approval.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, as per Section 516.1 of the School Code and School Board Policy 123, that the Neshaminy Board of School Directors authorizes one Board member to attend the 2002 National School Boards Association Conference to be held  April 6-9, 2002.

Mr. Mecleary seconded the motion.  Mr. Schoenstadt requested a roll call vote on the motion.  The roll call tally indicated the Board approved the motion with eight ayes, Mrs. Bostwick, Mrs. Butville, Mr. Dengler, Ms. Drioli, Mrs. Jowett, Mr. Mecleary, Mr. Schoenstadt and Dr. Spitz and one nay, Mr. Eccles.

Motion:  School Director Recognition Month January 2002

Mr. Mecleary presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, the role of locally elected school officials has served the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and local communities in meeting the needs of public education since the passage of the Free School Act in 1834; and

 

WHEREAS, these local boards have discharged their responsibilities to public education in a manner which has placed public education in the forefront of our educational systems; and

 

WHEREAS, locally elected officials have distinguished themselves and their communities in the non-paid, volunteer public service commitment; and

 

WHEREAS, the contributions of these men and women should be recognized and appreciated by those who benefit from the workings of our public school system.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Executive Board of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association hereby proclaims the month of January as School Director Recognition Month in the Commonwealth.

Mr. Eccles seconded the motion.  The Board unanimously approved the motion. 

Federal Programs Dr. Bowman noted the federal programs/grant information was included in the Board Meeting booklet.  Entitlements total $852,733 and other grants total $820,294.  Dr. Bowman pointed out a memorandum on the E-Rate Grant (federal technology grant) was distributed to Board members.  The District will receive at least $230,000 for the 2002-2003 fiscal year. On behalf of the Board, Mr. Schoenstadt commended and thanked Mr. Paradise for his hard work and efforts on behalf of the Board and District.

Other Board Business Mrs. Butville welcomed Mr. Paradise back to the Board Meetings.  Mr. Schoenstadt referred to the issue of the contribution rate to the retirement system that the District will have to deal with in the budget process.  He pointed out the contribution rate is regulated by the state legislators and once again they have succeeded to place a severe financial burden on the Board without any way to remedy the issue but to go back to the taxpayers.  He felt the legislators actions were irresponsible and reprehensible. 

Correspondence There was no correspondence.

Public Comment There was a two minute time limit per speaker.  Mr. Lindner, former Neshaminy teacher, administrator and coach, recommended the Board authorize the attendance of two Board members at the National School Boards Conference.  This would allowed two Board members to meet at the end of the day and discuss the issues and their differences of opinion.  He complimented the Board on the fine job it does and said the Neshaminy School District is the greatest school district.

Mr. Knowles, President of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers, congratulated Mr. Wilson on his election as Superintendent of the Neshaminy School District.

Ms. Drioli moved the meeting be adjourned and Mr. Eccles seconded the motion.  The Board unanimously approved the motion.  Mr. Schoenstadt adjourned the meeting at 10:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Carol A. Calvello
Board Secretary

 

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