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The Neshaminy Board of School Directors met in public session on January 8, 2002 in the Board Room of the District Offices, Maple Point Middle School.  The following persons were in attendance: 



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. P. Howard Wilson

Mr. Richard Eccles

Mr. Bruce Wyatt

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

 OTHERS:  Approximately 75 persons from the public, staff and press

Dr. William Spitz



SECRETARY:  Mrs. Carol Calvello


Call to Order Mr. Schoenstadt called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m.

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

Agenda Amendment Mr. Schoenstadt recommended the agenda be amended to reflect the public comment segment of the meeting will be held following agenda items for discussion “Attendance Boundaries” and “Future Use of Tawanka”.  There was Board consensus for Mr. Schoenstadt’s recommendation.  The agenda was amended in accordance with Mr. Schoenstadt’s recommendation.

Announcements There were no announcements.

Educational Presentation – Nicole Eckles, Eighth Grade Student at Poquessing Middle School, First Prize in the Jeanie Johnston Education Essay Contest

Dr. Bowman announced Nicole Eckles, Poquessing Middle School eighth grade student, won first prize in the Jeanie Johnston Education Essay Contest, which includes a $500 savings bond.  Her essay, “Leaving Ireland,” pertains to a ship bringing immigrants to America.  When the ship the Jeanie Johnston docks in Bristol this May, Nicole’s essay will be read be at the ceremony.  Nicole has been invited to board the ship.  Nicole’s mother, grandparents and several Poquessing Middle School staff members were in attendance at the meeting.  Nicole read her essay “Leaving Ireland” (see attachment I).  Dr. Bowman congratulated Nicole on her achievement.

Motion:  Appointment of Architect

Mr. Schoenstadt presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, the services of an architect are required to prepare the necessary plans and specifications to continue building renovations and/or construction in the Neshaminy School District; and


WHEREAS, a committee comprised of a Board member and administrators recently conducted interviews of several architectural firms and reported a recommendation to the Board of School Directors at the November Board Meeting.


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that BASCO Associates, Architects, Engineers and Planners, be contracted to provide the necessary architectural services for the renovations and/or construction projects approved by the Neshaminy Board of School Directors.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this appointment shall be subject to the terms of the contract acceptable to the Solicitor, Board President and the Business Administrator, and the Business Administrator be authorized to execute the contract in the name of and on behalf of the Neshaminy School District.


Mrs. Butville seconded the motion. 

Mr. Dengler explained he will abstain from voting on the motion due to the problems he had with BASCO’s performance regarding the renovation of the Maple Point School and Sandburg School auditoriums.  The Board approved the appointment of architect motion with eight ayes and one abstention, Mr. Dengler.

Items for Discussion

Attendance Boundaries Information distributed prior to the meeting.  Dr. Bowman explained at a previous meeting, the Board had reviewed an elementary attendance boundaries plan that the administration felt was the best fit and most balanced plan for the District.  However, it was the first draft of the plan and the community had not had an opportunity to provide input on the plan.  On December 19, Mr. Marotto and Dr. Boccuti met with community members.  The community members’ comments and recommendations  have been reviewed and revisions have been made to the plan. 

Dr. Bowman advised the Board the revised plan will be presented to the Board for approval at the January 22 Public Meeting.  Approval is needed in January, because the plan will affect staffing and the budget.  The plan remains a viable educational program for students.  He noted the following under the revised plan:

·         The balance will be reasonable between the schools.

·         There will not be a large differential between the schools.

·         It addresses most of the concerns presented by members of the community, particularly parents whose children would be affected by the change in attendance boundaries.

Mr. Marotto noted the original attendance boundaries plan was presented to the Board on November 13.  After the presentation, the amount of contact with the community members has been significant.  Approximately 70 community members attended a community meeting on December 19, which was very worthwhile.  He explained the original elementary attendance boundaries plan was a mathematical plan.  It equally balanced all the schools so the usage at each of the schools was very similar, i.e., 87 to 88 percent usage, contiguous attendance boundaries and decreased amount of transportation needed.  A significant point made by community members at the December 19 meeting was perhaps the perfect mathematical balance is a good one, but one that is a little too balanced.  The community members asked that consideration be given to unbalancing some of the schools a percentage point or two and flexing some students back to their original schools.

Mr. Marotto reported the revisions to the attendance boundaries plan decreases the number of students changing schools by 240 students or from 18.5 percent to 13 percent.  Some communities that were being moved to other schools have been moved back to their original schools.  The balancing is not as mathematically perfect as it was under the original plan.  Some schools’ utilization is a little higher than others and some a little lower.  The school with the highest capacity utilization is the Hoover School at 91 percent and the lowest capacity utilization school is the Buck School at 86 percent.  The key areas adjusted from the original plan are as follows:

·         Langhorne Manor – Will remain at Heckman School

·         Tareyton Estates – Will remain at Hoover School

·         Oaklihurst – Will remain at Hoover School

·         Meadows Apartments – Will remain at Schweitzer School

Dr. Bowman reviewed the current and modified attendance boundaries plan maps.  He explained all Lower Southampton students will attend Lower Southampton schools.  He reviewed the capacities of the elementary schools, which will be as follows:

Buck School                                    86 percent capacity                Same students

Everitt School                                   87 percent capacity                Losing 15 students

Heckman School                              89 percent capacity                18 percent new students

Hoover School                                  91 percent capacity                14 percent new students

Lower Southampton School               87 percent capacity                49 percent new students

Miller School                                     89 percent capacity                Same students               

Ferderbar School                                89 percent capacity                Same students

Schweitzer School                               90 percent capacity                20 percent new students
                                                                                                (does not include Intermediate Unit students

Dr. Bowman explained there is a 5 percent differential range in school capacity.  At the Board’s direction, modular classrooms will not be used for full-time, regular classrooms.  The modular classrooms will be used for special classes, i.e., speech, Title I, etc.

In response to a Board member’s question, Dr. Bowman explained West Durham Road (2P) students will be moved from the Everitt School to the Schweitzer School.  The Everitt School’s current capacity is 94 percent.  If Everitt students are not transferred to the Schweitzer School, the Schweitzer School will be significantly underutilized.  The Schweitzer School is a neighborhood school, and the administration does not want it to be an Intermediate Unit center.  It is the administration’s recommendation that West Durham Road (2P) be a part of the Schweitzer School attendance area.

Mr. Marotto explained he has been contacted by parents requesting the West Durham Road students continue attending the Everitt School.  If students are not transferred out of the Everitt School, its capacity will continue to be 94 percent.  Such a high capacity creates scheduling problems (staff and usage of staff).  Dr. Bowman explained when a school is overloaded, more resources need to be put into the school.  He cited the Hoover School as an example of a large school.  When the Hoover School’s student enrollment exceeds 650 students, there is a need for an assistant principal or a position of that nature.  Since the Schweitzer School’s enrollment will be on the low end, additional Intermediate Unit classes will be placed at the school.

Mr. Eccles inquired what is the longest amount of time a student will be on a bus.  Mr. Marotto explained Mr. Blasch, Director of Transportation, has stated it will not be any longer than 35 minutes.  Under the current attendance boundaries, some students are already on the bus 35 minutes traveling to the Buck School.  Dr. Bowman stated the new attendance boundaries will provide the same quality of transportation services next year as are currently provided.  Ms. Drioli pointed out different children’s transportation situations will be affected with the changes in the attendance boundaries.

Mr. Eccles inquired how the change in the elementary attendance boundaries will impact the middle schools.  Dr. Bowman explained there have not been any changes made to the middle school attendance boundaries.  There might be an interest next year to address the middle school attendance boundaries.  If elementary students are being moved from one attendance area to another, should they have the opportunity to attend the same middle school as their peers the following year?  There may be some students in the same elementary school who may attend different middle schools the following year.  This situation currently exists in some circumstances.  This situation can be reviewed next year.

Mr. Spitz referred to census grid 3L and noted this is the only area where Tawanka students are being transferred to the Heckman School.  Mr. Schoenstadt explained residents from the 3L census grid have submitted a petition requesting the students attend the Heckman School.  Dr. Bowman stated the administration has tried to minimize the number of students being transferred to other schools.  The proposed attendance boundaries plan works and is fair.  Dr. Bowman recommended the Board approve the proposed attendance boundaries plan at the January 22 Public Meeting.

Mr. Dengler thanked Mr. Marotto for listening to the parents.  Mr. Marotto said the parents from all of Neshaminy communities are very nice to work with. 

The attendance boundaries plan will be an agenda item at the January 22 Public Meeting.

Future Use of Tawanka

Dr. Bowman advised the Board a meeting was held last week with members of the Tawanka Elementary School Executive Board and on January 9 a meeting will be held with the Tawanka Home and School Association members.  He said the worst thing that could be done is to allow the Tawanka School to remain empty.  There is a commitment to allow continued community use of the Tawanka facility (i.e., building, gym, playground, etc.).

Dr. Bowman noted there was community concern about the students proposed for placement at the Tawanka facility.  The community has clearly stated they are committed to educating Neshaminy students.  However, the community members are very concerned about students from outside the District attending the school and what affect this will have on the school and community.  He stated the term “alternative school” provides a connotation of the kinds of students that might be placed at the school, but the administration knows will not be placed at the school.  He recommended the school be called the Tawanka Educational Center.  He also recommended only Neshaminy students attend the Tawanka Educational Center, and there be no students from outside the District attending the school.  The school will provide an alternative setting to the regular classroom setting.  At the January 9 meeting with the Tawanka Home and School Association, there will be an opportunity to meet a Neshaminy student whose life was changed by having the opportunity to attend a program that provided a setting that was different from the high school setting.  The Neshaminy teacher who teaches Neshaminy’s alternative program located at TODAY, Inc. will also be in attendance at the meeting.

Dr. Bowman advised the Board various organizations  have contacted him about renting available space at the Tawanka facility.  The organizations understand the District would be using a portion of the facility to provide a special program for students.  The Bucks County Peace Center has expressed an interest in renting space at the facility, and has proposed trading off rent by providing some of the programs for the students.  The YMCA has also inquired about renting space at the facility.  

Dr. Bowman explained it is important to keep the Tawanka facility as an educational center, because enrollment in schools follow a ten year cycle.  The Hoover School was closed in 1976 and it was reopened in 1986.  While closed, the Hoover facility was kept as an educational facility so millions of dollars did not have to be spent bringing the facility up to certain codes to reopen the school. 

Dr. Bowman recommended the following regarding usage of the Tawanka facility:

·         Retain it as an educational center

·         Use it to provide a program for students whose needs are not being meet in the regular classroom and need an alternative setting, smaller environment, counseling and special attention.  The program not be for adjudicated students.  Students who are adjudicated are placed in schools that are designed to handle their behavior problems. 

Dr. Bowman stated the administration is committed to providing a first class alternative program for Neshaminy students.  The students will be bused to the Tawanka Educational Center.  Students will be allowed to drive to the school.  Since driving is a privilege, students who violate the rules and regulations will lose their driving privilege. 

Ms. Drioli stated she will not commit to limiting enrollment at the Tawanka Education Center to Neshaminy students only.  She felt if space is available in the program, consideration should be given to students from other school districts attending the program on a tuition basis.  She advised the Board  Lower Southampton Township is interested in utilizing space in the Tawanka facility for their recreational program, and Nat Cooper, who provides an at-risk program, is interested in renting space at the Tawanka facility.  She requested the administration consider the township and Mr. Cooper’s interest in the facility. 

Ms. Drioli stated the closing of the Tawanka School and redistricting are fiscally responsible actions.  She expressed concern that the administration is presenting a recommendation  for the future use of the Tawanka facility without first discussing the proposal with the full Board.  She stated she is willing to work with the community in determining future uses for the Tawanka facility.  Two years ago the Board committed to allowing the community to continue using the facilities for recreational purposes of whatever school was closed.

Mr. Schoenstadt stated the administration is not restricting the options being considered for recreational programs, etc.  The alternative program would occupy only one of the facility’s three wings.  Dr. Bowman explained he was presenting his recommendation as requested by the Board. 

Mr. Eccles stated he was confused as to the amount of actual savings the Board could expect.  He noted the Board was advised by closing a school, funds would be saved and approximately $1,000,000 in revenue could be obtained by accepting students from outside the District into the District’s alternative program.  He indicated he was in favor of Dr. Bowman’s recommendation not to accept students from outside the District into the program.  He said what will the ratio of students to teachers be in the Tawanka Educational Center?  What is the true cost savings of closing a school?  Mr. Wilson explained 40 to 60 students per year will attend the Tawanka Educational Center. It is anticipated the maximum enrollment will be 60 students. The highest number of  students enrolled in alternative programs has been 90 to 100 students. At this point in time, the ratio of students to teachers being used is ten to one.  The staff will include a principal, full-time counselor, some counseling situations will be contracted out, and staff for physical education and music programs. Ms. Drioli stated if there is a commitment for 100 slots and only 40 students are in the program, she is not willing to leave the slots empty.

Dr. Bowman explained previously the Board was provided with a budget analysis that listed $850,000 as the savings resulting from the closure of a school.  A listing of positions needed to open the facility as an alternative school was provided to the Board.  Currently, the 50 Neshaminy students who will attend Neshaminy’s alternative program are being educated outside of the District at an annual cost of $16,000 to $32,000 per student.  Every year the District will save $850,000 plus the net savings from educating the alternative education Neshaminy students at a Neshaminy facility rather than an out-of-district facility.   Mr. Eccles asked if the alternative program will not have space for hire, is it still in the best interest of the District to close a school. 

Mrs. Butville pointed out it is in the best interest of the Board and District not to allow the Tawanka facility to remain empty.  Therefore, the Board needs to reach facility usage decisions as soon as possible to allow whatever programs, etc. to be in place by September 2002.  Dr. Bowman stated he is presenting recommendations now so as to not lose valuable time in getting the program established and determining staffing.  Many budget decisions need to be made in January and February so the budget will reflect what will take place in September 2002. 

Dr. Spitz felt the Board does not have to make a decision right now as to whether non-Neshaminy students will be accepted into the alternative program in the future.  It was his understanding the first year the program would only include Neshaminy students.  A student enrollment decision for beyond the first year does not need to be made right now.  The Board needs to move forward on the issue of actually opening the educational center for September 2002. 

Ms. Drioli recommended the administration contact the Lower Southampton Township Recreation Department about using the Tawanka facility.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated the Lower Southampton Township Recreation Department should initiate the contact with the administration.  Ms. Drioli pointed out the Board has not officially announced the Tawanka School will be vacant.  No one has mentioned a use for the site except for the alternative education program.  She felt various groups and organizations are interested in renting space in the Tawanka facility.  Ms. Drioli stated she would like to provide assurance to the Tawanka community that they can still use the Tawanka School’s grounds and gym. 

There was Board consensus to use a portion of the Tawanka facility for an alternative program for Neshaminy students only the first year.  There was also Board consensus to take the future years as they come and let the Board decide if the program should accept non-Neshaminy students that meet the District’s qualifications and criteria.  

Dr. Bowman advised the Board a decision is needed this month, January, on the elementary attendance boundaries plan.  By the end of February, the Board needs to provide the administration with direction regarding the alternative school.  If the program is going to be held at the Tawanka School, a budget will be built that represents the closing of the Tawanka School and the opening of the Tawanka Educational Center. The administration needs to know if the Board is in favor of an alternative school.  If not, what does the Board plan to do with the Tawanka facility?  Will a Board committee be formed to take care of the issue?  The renting out of space at the Tawanka facility can be an ongoing process. 

Dr. Bowman stated the administration is operating on the premise that the Tawanka Elementary School has been closed by the Board effective July 1, 2002.  A budget is being built around the direction provided by the Board regarding the use of the Tawanka facility effective July 1, 2002. 

Ms. Drioli stated she believed the Board will be challenged to take another vote on the closing of the Tawanka Elementary School.  Mr. Schoenstadt asked if there are five members of the Board willing to revisit the issue of a school closing.  There was no response to Mr. Schoenstadt’s question.  He asked if there were five votes to list the issue of a school closing as an agenda item again.  Since only two Board members, Messrs. Eccles and Mecleary, were in favor of listing the issue of a school closing as an agenda item again, the Board will not reconsider its decision to close the Tawanka School. 

The future use of the Tawanka School will be an agenda item at the February Work Session.  Dr. Bowman said he will be meeting with community groups.  The community groups may have suggestions regarding use of the facility.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated any groups interested in using space at the Tawanka facility should submit their request to the administration for consideration.  He suggested an announcement be placed on the District’s Web site and cable station regarding groups submitting their interest in using space at the Tawanka facility.

Public Comment There was a three minute time limit per speaker.  A 45 minutes time limit was set for public comment.  Mr. McGarry, Langhorne Manor, on behalf of the Langhorne Manor community thanked the Board members for all the work they do for the children.  He said there is respect and appreciation for all of the Board’s hard work and decisions.  Mr. McGarry thanked Mr. Marotto and Dr. Boccuti for conducting a town meeting in December.  He said they did an outstanding job. 

Mr. McGarry advised the Board that the Langhorne Manor community has formed a committee comprised of 30 husband and wife teams.  The committee has been relentless in its pursuit to keep the Langhorne Manor children attending the Oliver Heckman Elementary School.  Every Langhorne Manor household has signed a petition supporting the Langhorne Manor children continuing to attend the Oliver Heckman Elementary School.  The petition was submitted to Dr. Boccuti last month and additional signatures have been obtained.  The Langhorne Borough Council adopted a resolution and a letter of support was written pertaining to retaining the Langhorne Manor children at the Oliver Heckman Elementary School.  A copy of the letter was submitted to Dr. Boccuti.  The residents of Langhorne Manor are in favor of the attendance boundaries revisions made by Mr. Marotto for historic reasons and the reasons provided by Mr. Marotto.  The Langhorne Manor community is in favor of the Board approving the revised attendance boundaries plan. 

Ms. Reid, Langhorne Manor, thanked Dr. Bowman and Mr. Marotto for all of their work on the attendance boundaries plan and listening to the parents.  She explained the attendance boundaries plan issue was her first experience with the administration and Board and it has been a very positive experience.  She urged the Board to approved the revised attendance boundaries plan. 

Ms. Duke, Langhorne Manor, thanked Dr. Bowman, Mr. Marotto and the Board members for reconsidering the attendance boundaries plan and keeping the Langhorne Manor students at the Oliver Heckman Elementary School.  She noted Langhorne Manor has a population of 927 people, its own government, mayor and trash system.  For over 100 years the children of Langhorne Manor have had the privilege and pleasure of attending the Oliver Heckman School and its former affiliated Langhorne schools.  She thanked the Board for revising the attendance boundaries plan and allowing the neighborhood children to continue attending the Oliver Heckman Elementary School.

Mr. Fields, Tareyton Estates, thanked the Board, Mr. Marotto, Dr. Boccuti and the administration for taking the time to listen to the community members and revising the attendance boundaries plan. He noted a petition was submitted to Mr. Marotto requesting the Tareyton Estates students remain at the Hoover School and the revised plan reflects their request. He urged the Board to approved the revised attendance boundaries plan. 

Ms. Cunningham, Levittown, expressed concern about the November 27, 2001 approval of using search dogs on school property.  She felt though the decision was well intentioned, it was made without enough thought and consideration.  She said the canine company the Board is considering hiring has provided inadequate references.  She explained her main concern is the student body.  The use of search dogs is counterproductive to a positive learning environment.  It is wrong to turn dogs loose on students.  The argument is that dogs are not being turned loose on students.  The Board is simply trying to provide a safe environment.  She said the policy is very unfair, because it treats everyone as though they were a criminal and sends the message that no one can be trusted.  It lets students know that in life there are good guys and bad guys.  If you make a mistake, you could end up on the wrong side of that equation.  It is prejudice and labeling.  She questioned if this practice will really reduce drugs in the school environment or just move the drugs elsewhere.  It may result in more action in the neighborhoods.  She urged parents to consider where their children will be going to high school and when this policy will be effective in their middle or elementary schools.

Ms. Gillies, District resident, stated very few parents know that Channel One is playing in homeroom for 12 minutes.  Channel One is 12 minutes of television in homeroom.  Ten minutes of very poor current events and two minutes of advertisements.  It presents a one-sided version of current events.  The program provides no choices, the teacher cannot turn off the television and the students cannot change the channel.  The students are forced to watch Channel One.  The current events shown are the opinion of Channel

One.  She said Channel One is an unnecessary tax burden.  There has been no financial analysis completed by the School Board.  She estimated the cost to the taxpayer is $192 per child, per year for the cost of lights, teachers in the building, etc.  She stated Channel One viewing does not encourage reading and writing as evidenced by PSSA scores at the Poquessing School last year.  She said she objects to Channel One advertising junk food.  Actors and actresses on Channel One commercials are scantly and provocatively dressed.  These are not good role models for the students and are a distraction.  The dress is in direct contradiction to the Neshaminy School District dress code.   She suggested the possibility of teachers and administrators receiving cash bonus and gifts as prizes be investigated.  She stated she objects to the Channel One Web site which has links to hard pornography.  The Channel One Web site is advertised every day in homeroom.  She stated Channel One’s representative has not been truthful about the program’s endorsement and links.  She said should the Board allow Channel One to be again broadcast in the schools, she will hold the Board 100 percent responsible for everything Channel One shows in the homerooms, in the schools and its affect on all of the children.

Ms. Newell, Langhorne, explained how her daughter has greatly benefited from her attendance at an  alternative school located in Middletown Township.  It has been a factor in her success today.  Her daughter is currently attending Bucks County Community College as a high school senior.  Ms. Newell said she is thankful for the wonderful educators and programs offered by the Neshaminy School District.  She emphasized the importance and need for alternative programs for students in crisis.  Ms. Newell stated her daughter’s stay at the alternative school located in Middletown Township and the interest and concern of the teachers there were a contributing factor in her daughter’s ever increasing self-esteem, cheerfulness, success at the Bucks County Community College and general outlook on life.  Ms. Newell said she wishes the District was using search dogs when her daughter was a student at the high school. 

Ms. Mitchell, Oakford, urged the Board not to close the Tawanka School.  She indicated she was opposed to placing students in need of an alternative education program in a separate facility and segregating them from the regular education students.  She noted how at the Tawanka School  her children were introduced to special needs students and by being integrated with regular education students, the special needs students became one of the regular students.  She urged the Board members to visit the Tawanka School to see what a wonderful school it is.  She questioned why the Board is closing the school.  She said out of 256 area children, 136 were born in Philadelphia, 78 were born in Montgomery County, 26 were born in Bucks County and 12 were born in New Jersey.  She expressed concern due to the closure of the Tawanka School, there will be an increase in the number of students per class.  Ms. Mitchell said she is proud to be a Tawanka School parent.

Ms. Ramella, Meadows of Durham, explained her child is one of the children being transferred from the Everitt School to another school.  She explained her child will be transferred to another elementary school for one year and then have to change schools again because he will be attending middle school the following year.  She felt the Everitt School is not operating at full capacity and enrollment is currently at a low level.  She noted new students were not being transferred to the school, but students were being transferred out of the school.  She said the Everitt School is functioning fine and urged the Board not to move students located on Durham Road out of the Everitt School. 

Mr. McLandon, Langhorne Gables, said he was speaking on behalf of the parents of Oaklihurst (grid 3A).  He thanked the Board, Mr. Marotto and Dr. Boccuti for all their time and effort regarding the redistricting plan.  He noted a petition signed by 259 Oaklihurst residents was submitted to the Board, as well as written comments and recommendations.  He urged the Board to approve the proposed attendance boundaries plan.  Mr. McLandon inquired if there will be an opportunity for further public comment between now and the time the proposed attendance boundaries plan is presented for Board approval. 

Mr. McLandon noted the Hoover School will be accepting a large number of Tawanka students into the student body.  The Hoover PTO would like the Tawanka parents to realize the Hoover School parents will be there to support, accept them into the Hoover School and try to make the transition as smooth as possible. 

Ms. Bianchino, Meadows of Durham, explained Durham Meadows and the homes on Durham Road are located closest to the Hoover School, but the residents of this area have never been asked to be a part of the Hoover School community.  The next closest school is the Miller School, but the students are not being placed at the Miller School.  The students are going to be taken farther away from the Everitt, Hoover and Miller Schools and placed at the Schweitzer School.  As members of the Everitt School, the Durham Meadows and Durham Road students have never attended the same middle school as the other students.  Initially, the Durham Road area residents thought they were going to be a part of the Hoover School and finally part of a community where all of the students would be attending one middle school, Maple Point.  It was considered a positive that the students would attend the Hoover School for five years and then attend the Maple Point Middle School for four years. 

Ms. Bianchino said if the Board considers the students of Durham Meadows and Durham Road insignificant, then leave the students alone.  The students are happy at the Everitt School.  If the goal is to meet percentages, understand the percentages are only numbers.  Public education’s goal should be what is in the best interest of early childhood education and the early school years.  The residents of Durham Meadows and Durham Road are strong contributors to the Everitt School and would like to continue to be strong contributors to the school.  There is no reason to move the students to the Schweitzer School just to fit a mathematical equation.  She urged the Board to allow the Durham Meadows and Durham Road students to remain at the Everitt School.

Ms. Luff, Langhorne, stated she is not happy with the closing of the Tawanka School.  She asked the Board to consider allowing the children who are on the far end of the bus route to board the first buses that arrive at the school.  This would eliminate the children who ride the bus for 35 minutes having to wait 15 to 20 minutes to board a bus. 

Ms. Luff stated due to the closing of the Tawanka School and redistricting of students, her daughter will lose 50 percent of her friends.  She suggested as many as possible of the Tawanka School students be placed in the same classes at their new schools.  She felt this will make the transition to a new school a little easier.

Ms. Gulick, Tanglewood Drive, explained there are 37 homes on Tanglewood Drive and nine children will be affected by the redistricting plan.  The students are scheduled to be transferred from the Everitt School to the Hoover School.  The street’s southern entrance opens up to Foxwood Manor and the northern entrance opens up to the Racquet Club.  She questioned why Tanglewood Drive could not be a part of gird 2N instead of gird 2P.  Tanglewood Drive could be used as a turnaround for the bus.  She felt because there are only a small group of children on Tanglewood Drive, the area is being totally overlooked.  She submitted a proposal to retain the Tanglewood Drive students at the Everitt School and urged the Board to allow the students to remain at the Everitt School.

Mrs. Butville referred to comments made earlier in the meeting regarding search dogs, and explained the dogs are not turned loose in the halls.  The search dogs are under the control of a handler and never come in contact with students.  The students will be at an assembly or some other activity when the search dogs go through the hallways and sniff the lockers.  If the dogs are not alerted by anything in the lockers, there is no problem.  If a dog alerts on a locker, the administrator takes care of the situation.  The student would be asked to open his/her locker for inspection.  No student will be in contact with any of the search dogs.  Mrs. Butville said if a drug is found in someone’s locker, she has no problem with the student getting in trouble for bringing drugs into school. 

Mrs. Butville referred to comments made earlier in the meeting about the Channel One Program and explained the District does not pay anything for the Channel One Program.  No tax money is used to fund the program.  Ms. Drioli explained the Channel One Program is broadcast during homeroom period and other school business (attendance, etc.) is conducted at the same time.  Homeroom is not instructional time.  It is administrative time.  As a result of the Channel One Program, the District has obtained additional equipment which the District did not have the revenue to purchase.  The equipment is used at times other than homeroom period for instructional purposes.  The District is only obligated to broadcast the program for 12 minutes.  Mr. Mecleary concurred with Mrs. Butville that there is no cost to the District for the Channel One Program.

Mr. Mecleary referred to the issue of search dogs in the schools and stated the Bill of Rights is not in place to protect those who are guilty of something.  It is there to protect those who are innocent.  This is the whole argument regarding the search dog issue.  Mrs. Butville said if the search dogs keep the innocent people innocent, they have done a good job. 

Dr. Bowman explained a search was conducted as a result of an incident at the Poquessing Middle School.  Since middle school students are not permitted to take their book bags into the classrooms, the book bags, lockers and coats were searched.  The police were not involved.  A contracted group that the Intermediate Unit is entering into a contract with was used for the search.  The dog alerted on a locker.  The locker was found to have after shave lotion in it.  The students are in the classrooms when a search is conducted.  If there is reasonable cause, the administration has the right to search lockers.  The search is conducted on a random basis.  The search dog is not an extension of the police.  If a dog alerts and drugs are found, the District’s drug policy is applied, which includes a set of procedures to be followed.  At the high school, the search dogs will be used to check lockers and cars.  The search dogs will not be used to check students.  The use of search dogs in the District has been researched by attorneys.  The search dogs will be in District buildings in the near future.

Ice Hockey Information distributed prior to the meeting.  Dr. Bowman reminded the Board that several parents have petitioned the Board to provide more coverage for ice hockey.  He noted the memorandum distributed to the Board does not only cover the issue of ice hockey.  There are other Neshaminy activities (baseball, dance groups, etc.) in the community in addition to Neshaminy Ice Hockey.  If  recognition is provided for one group, it must be provided for all of the groups.  Dr. Bowman recommended the possibility of creating a “Community Activities” section in the yearbook be investigated.  Groups such as the Neshaminy Ice Hockey Team could be recognized in this section of the yearbook. 

Dr. Bowman reviewed the ice hockey survey results (page two of the information distributed).  He noted the school student newspaper reporters and editors, if they choose to, may publish articles about Neshaminy students who participate in community events. 

Mrs. Jowett noted the schools surveyed play in a different league than that of the Neshaminy team.  Dr. Bowman explained the Suburban One League (league teams surveyed) is a league made up of schools that the administration has access to and can obtain information about how they handle the situation.  Mrs. Jowett noted the ice hockey team plays the Pennsbury, Bristol and Bensalem teams and those school districts were not included in the survey.  Mr. Wyatt explained that ice hockey is not a PIAA sport.  No school district in Suburban One sponsors ice hockey as a PIAA sport. 

Ms. Drioli said if the Neshaminy Ice Hockey Team is comprised of Neshaminy students, she has no objection to recognizing the team.  She felt the District should take advantage of an opportunity to provide positive recognition for students. Dr. Bowman explained parameters need to be established for recognizing activities. 

Mrs. Jowett stated ice hockey is a club sport and the District is not being asked to sponsor the sport.  The Neshaminy Ice Hockey Team would like to have the high school teams’ (varsity and junior varsity) picture included in the yearbook, games announced and game scores announced if time permits.  The teams that the Neshaminy Ice Hockey Team plays against announce their games regularly and the turnout for those teams is unbelievable.  The ice hockey team is one way to keep kids out of trouble. 

Mr. Wyatt explained the yearbook adviser and staff could be asked to create a community section in the yearbook.  The Neshaminy Ice Hockey Team and any other community activity could be included in this section of the yearbook.  He explained announcements at the high school are very short and concise because of time limits.  He suggested a community bulletin board be established and include a posting of various community activities.  Neshaminy High School team games (i.e., basketball, baseball, etc.) are not announced.  A sheet of announcements is posted in each homeroom.  The ice hockey team games could be included on the announcement sheet posted in the homerooms. 

Mr. Schoenstadt recommended the ice hockey team and community student activities recognition issue be referred to the Educational Development Committee for review and a recommendation.  There was Board consensus for the Educational Development Committee to review the issue and present a recommendation to the Board.  Mr. Mecleary stated the issue will be reviewed by the committee in February. 

ROTC Program Dr. Bowman advised the Board the District has had two ROTC Programs in the past.  When the programs were initiated, the District had the correct number of students enrolled in the programs.  The programs were discontinued due to a decline in the program’s enrollment.  Dr. Bowman stated with the events going on in the world today, it has been suggested the administration ascertain if there is an interest in the ROTC Program.  He initially recommended the eleventh graders be surveyed to determine if the ROTC Program would have been offered, would the students have selected it as a major.  Since the eleventh graders would not be eligible to enroll in the course, it was determined the eleventh graders would not be surveyed.  He also recommended the eighth and ninth graders be surveyed.  The survey would ask if an ROTC Program is offered would students consider electing it as a major course of study.  The survey could be conducted during homeroom period. 

Ms. Drioli stated she was opposed to the ROTC Program.  She inquired if ROTC representatives would come into the District to explain the program to students.  Mrs. Butville stated a representative would not be sent to the school to explain the program just for the survey.  Mr. Schoenstadt suggested prior to the survey, students be provided with pamphlets outlining the program.  Dr. Bowman said information on the ROTC Program can be telecast in the schools. 

After further discussion, there was Board consensus to survey the eighth and ninth graders to determine if an ROTC Program is offered, would students consider electing it as a major course of study.

Verizon Request for Easement at Walter Miller Elementary School Information distributed prior to the meeting.  Dr. Bowman advised the Board Verizon has submitted a request to install a concrete pad and cabinet on the Walter Miller Elementary School property along Cobalt Ridge Road.  Verizon would pay a one-time easement payment of $8,000. Three proposed sites have been submitted.  The cabinet and concrete pad will be installed as outlined in the site 3 sketch.  The Board had approved a similar request at the Tawanka School.  Dr. Bowman recommended the Board approve the easement request.

Mr. Dengler recommended Verizon be asked to landscape the area similar to the way the Tawanka School site was landscaped.  Mr. Minotti, Director of Facilities, stated Verizon will landscape the area.

Verizon’s request will be an agenda item at the January 22 Public Meeting.

Items for Approval

Overnight Trips

Information previously distributed self-explanatory for the following overnight trips:

·         Instrumental Music Trip – Neshaminy High School – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, April 25‑29, 2002

·         Ski Club Trip – Killington, Vermont, March 1-3, 2002

·         History Club Trip – Boston/Newport, Massachusetts, May 17–19, 2002

·         Presidential Classroom Trip – Washington, D.C., March 2-9, 2002

Mr. Eccles inquired if the administration is allowing trips again and have any trips canceled due to the events of September 11 be rescheduled.  Dr. Bowman explained for the most part, school trips are back on schedule.  The administration has been approving the day trips, including trips to New York City.  The Quebec trip has been canceled for logistical reasons. 

In response to Dr. Spitz’s question about the Presidential Classroom trip, Dr. Bowman explained no more than eight students attend the program, which has been ongoing for many years.  The local Rotary Clubs sponsor students to the program.  The students attending the Presidential Classroom Program are leaders in the school. 

Mr. Wyatt explained students are selected for the Presidential Classroom Program by students applying in writing and being interviewed by a team of teachers and building principal.  The interview takes approximately 30 minutes.  From the total number of applicants, seven to eight students are selected to participate in the program.  Primarily the students are seniors.  Juniors can apply, but seniors are usually selected.  The students pay a portion of the trip cost.  Students from all over the United States attend the program. 

There was Board approval of the four overnight trips.

Name and Appoint the New Superintendent Effective July 1, 2002

Dr. Bowman advised the Board he is serving in the capacity of Acting Superintendent until the end of the school year.  The Board’s timetable calls for the identification and appointment of the person who will assume the position of Superintendent effective July 1, 2002.  Dr. Bowman will prepare the motion, with the approval of the solicitor, identifying an individual to be appointed as Superintendent for a term of office, minimum three years and maximum five years. 

Mrs. Butville inquired if over the next few months the person identified as Superintendent will be assuming more responsibilities.  She noted a lot of the decisions the Board makes over the next several months, will have to be enacted by the newly appointed Superintendent.  Dr. Bowman explained the superintendency will be effective July 1, 2002.  He stated he is working to make it a seamless transition.  Once the new Superintendent is named, he will be involved in all of the decisions.  The transition process will be a team approach. 

Ms. Drioli noted the new Superintendent will have some major issues to oversee, i.e., closing of a school and opening of an educational center.  Dr. Bowman stated the new Superintendent’s term will be effective July 1, 2002.  However, his contract includes a clause regarding providing some consulting days to the  District after July 1, 2002.  He pointed out the Cabinet members are well informed about the alternative school program.

The naming and appointment of the new Superintendent effective July 1, 2002 will be an agenda item at the January 22 Public Meeting.

Attendance at the National School Boards Conference- April 6-9, 2002

Mr. Schoenstadt explained Mr. Eccles had raised a question about the amount of money being contemplated for expenditure and the number of School Board members expressing an interest in attending the conference.  Mr. Eccles said he did not think it proper for the Board to vote to close a school and yet be willing to send Board members to a conference in New Orleans.  He felt the educational activities/information available at the conference can be obtained over the Internet.  Mr. Eccles stated in light of closing a school and trying to save money, he is opposed to sending anyone to the conference and spending money on extras.  He felt there needs to be a review of other scheduled trips for Board members, administrators and certified staff members. 

Mr. Schoenstadt noted most of the administrators’ contracts state if an administrator has an interest in attending a conference, the Board does not have the power to say no to administrators’ attendance at a conference.  It is a contractual issue.  However, Board members’ attendance at conference is decided by the Board.  Generally, two Board members attend the national conference and at least one Board member attends the state conference.  Rarely, do more than two Board members attend the national conference.  Usually two Board members attend the national conference because there are so many seminars scheduled over the four day period, it is almost impossible for one person to attend the key seminars and gather all the information from all of the seminars. 

Ms. Drioli noted there is no compensation for serving on the School Board.  She felt attendance at the conferences allow Board members to learn about issues, grants, etc. and provides a renewing of your spirit.  Board members return from a conference with new knowledge/information, renewed and excited about serving on the Board.  She felt administrators also benefit from attendance at conferences. 

Mr. Mecleary stated he had registered to attend the conference.  In light of fiscal considerations and his limited tenure on the Board, he will not be attending the conference.  Mrs. Butville indicated she would like to attend the conference.  Mrs. Butville said the conference is a great place to network. A lot of information is presented at the conference that is not available on the Internet.  She explained she returns from the conferences with a wealth of material, which she reviews and distributes to the appropriate people. 

Mr. Eccles indicated in light of the School District’s situation (i.e., closing a school, difficult budget), he was opposed to sending any Board members to the conference in New Orleans.  Mrs. Butville stated in times of budget cuts, the Board does not cut back on teacher training.  Inservice programs are still held for teachers.  She stated she considers the conference an inservice for Board members.  A lot of good information is brought back to the District from the conference. 

Dr. Spitz felt the appearance is bad.  He said he is sure a lot of good information is collected at the conferences.  He noted the conference agenda is developed in such a way as to attract people to the conference.

Dr. Bowman said he believes everyone is a life long learner and should continually look at ways to grow and better themselves.  He asked the Board members what are you doing to become the best School Board member that you can be to serve our community.  He stated every budget is a difficult budget.  Training costs money.  The School Board members are in a job that does not pay.  The District has a $120,000,000 operation.  The decisions the Board members make are profound, and the power and authority that the Board has is unbelievable.  He asked the Board members to consider what it is doing, individually and as a whole, to make themselves and their team the best Board that the community can have.  Training is part of it.  At a conference, Board members can be rejuvenated, educated and learn.  He explained he has been attending the national conference with Board members for ten years, and valuable experiences and learning has taken place.  Three Board members’ attendance at the conference has been budgeted. 

Dr. Bowman explained he will not be attending this year’s National School Boards Conference.  The individual appointed Superintendent at the January 22 Public Meeting will be attending the conference.  He advised the Board he will be attending the Superintendents Conference this year.  The Superintendents Association of America will be granting mini-grants to help homeless and needy children.  A grant application was submitted and Neshaminy is one of 14 school districts being awarded $3,500 to help people in need.  This is an example of the kinds of things that happen when you network through organizations.  If attendance at a conference results in individuals being better Board members and learning about funding, etc., the return may be greater than the expense of the conference. 

Motion:  Board Attendance at the National School Boards Conference

Ms. Drioli presented the following motion:

I move the motion to be presented at the January 22 Public Meeting include the Neshaminy Board of School Directors authorizing the attendance of three Board members at the National School Boards Conference schedule to be held April 6 to April 9, 2002 in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Mrs. Bostwick seconded the motion.  The motion was approved with five ayes, Mrs. Bostwick, Mrs. Butville, Ms. Drioli, Mrs. Jowett and Mr. Schoenstadt and four nays, Mr. Dengler, Mr. Eccles, Mr. Mecleary and Dr. Spitz.

Board attendance at National School Boards Conference will be an agenda item at the January 22 Public Meeting.

Mr. Schoenstadt urged Board members interested in attending the National School Boards Conference to submit there registration before the end of January. 

School Director Recognition Month Dr. Bowman advised the Board a School Director recognition month motion will be presented at the January 22 Public Meeting. 

Election of Member to Intermediate Unit Board Information distributed prior to the meeting.  Dr. Bowman noted Ms. Drioli’s term on the Intermediate Unit No. 22 Board expires June 30, 2002.  An Intermediate Unit Director may be elected to fill a vacancy to succeed herself without limitations as to the number of terms.  Mr. Dengler nominated Ms. Drioli to the position of Intermediate Unit Director and Mrs. Bostwick seconded the nomination.  There were no other nominations.

Motion:  Election of Member to Intermediate Unit Board

Mr. Dengler presented the following motion:

I move that the Neshaminy Board of School Directors appoint Ms. Carol Drioli to serve as the representative to the Bucks County Intermediate Unit Board of Directors beginning July 1, 2002. 

Mrs. Bostwick seconded the motion.  The Board unanimously approved the motion.

Approval of Bids and Budget Transfers – Dr. Bowman advised the Board there were no bids to be presented for approval.  He advised the Board that Budget Transfer Report No. 02-03 (working copy) with 11 transactions and subtransactions will be presented for approval at the January 22 Public Meeting.  Board members should contact Dr. Bowman prior to the January 22 Public Meeting with any budget transfer questions.

Items for InformationThere were no items for information discussed.

Superintendent’s Report No report presented.

Committee Reports

Technology Committee - No report presented.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated the committee will meet in February.

Technical School Board - Mrs. Butville reported the Technical School Board will start strategic planning in January.

Intermediate Unit Board No report presented.

Building Utilization/Finance Committee Mr. Eccles reported the next committee meeting is scheduled for March 26, 4:00 p.m.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated the committee needs to address the issue of the bond amount.  However, the bond amount cannot be addressed until the architect’s recommendation is presented.  Dr. Bowman noted the bond issue will include funds for improvements/repairs, renovation of Neshaminy High School and Poquessing Middle School, boilers, roofs, infrastructure and AVA items. 

Educational Foundation Mr. Dengler advised the Board a recent Educational Foundation fund raising raffle was very successful.  Quite a few people have purchased plaques for the Recognition Wall. 

Educational Development Committee Mr. Mecleary reported the committee met on November 20 to discuss the Channel One Program.  In September and October concerns regarding the program’s content and value were raised by parents.  Faculty members opposed and in favor of the program, parents, Channel One representative and administrators presented comments at the meeting.  At the end of the meeting, it was decided once two issues were resolved the committee would recommend the Channel One Program be reinstated in the middle schools and the high school staff continue reviewing how to institute the program at the high school in an effective manner. 

Mr. Mecleary noted one of the issues that needs to be resolved is the Channel One Internet links.  Dr. Boccuti explained once connected to the Channel One Web site and after three or four links, you can get to a pornographic site on the Internet.  Channel One’s representative was made aware of the issue at the meeting and stated that was the first time he was made aware of the situation.  Channel One has been working on this problem and has provided a detailed report on the issue.  Channel One is guaranteeing by January 25 any link to any possible trouble area will be completely shut down.  Mr. Schoenstadt explained to resolve the issue, Channel One is installing firewalls.  A transitional change at Channel One had eliminated the firewalls originally installed.  The new firewalls are being installed and will not be able to be erased, changed or modified without changing the entire program.  If the firewall program is installed, the students will not be able to go into the Channel One Web site and link anywhere outside the Web site.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated if the changes are not made by January 25, Channel One will not have addressed the District’s concerns and the Board should respond accordingly.  It will be easy to verify if the changes in the Web site have been made. 

Mr. Schoenstadt said the other issue of concern was the advertising and previewing of R-rated movies on Channel One.  Channel One’s representative had advised the committee Channel One does not advertise R-rated movies on Channel One.  Dr. Spitz stated Channel One advertises television versions of R-rated movies, which have had the R-rated content removed from the movies.  Therefore, they are no longer R-rated movies.  Mr. Dengler said he reviewed several Channel One tapes and he found nothing contradictory to what Channel One’s representative had stated at the meeting.  Mr. Mecleary advised the Board that the building principals monitor the program for content.  No one has noticed R-rated movies being advertised on Channel One.  Mr. Mecleary stated any Channel One tape can be obtained from the middle schools for review by Board members. 

Mrs. Bostwick stated previously the high school teachers had rejected instituting the Channel One Program at the high school.  Is an attempt now being made to have the program instituted in the high school?  Mr. Mecleary explained the high school administration is reviewing how the program can best be implemented in the high school.  There is difficulty scheduling the program in the high school.  Scheduling was not a problem in the middle schools. 

Mrs. Bostwick inquired if the Channel One Program is implemented in the high school, could it be removed from the middle schools.  She felt the program is not age appropriate for the middle school students.  The program is for students age 16 and older.  Mr. Mecleary stated it was not his understanding that the program’s target audience was high school students.  He said the middle school teachers like the program. 

Mr. Schoenstadt suggested the committee review the status of the Web site changes (firewalls) as of January 25 and present a recommendation to the Board at the February Work Session.  Mr. Mecleary recommended Dr. Boccuti contact Channel One after January 25 to confirm the firewalls have been put into effect.  If Dr. Boccuti and Dr. Bowman are satisfied that the firewalls have been put in place, the Channel One Program be reinstituted  at that time.  There was consensus for Mr. Mecleary’s recommendation.  Mrs. Bostwick, Mrs. Jowett and Dr. Spitz indicated they were opposed to Mr. Mecleary’s recommendation.  Mrs. Butville recommended there be periodic checks of the Channel One Web site to ensure the firewalls are still in place. 

Dr. Bowman pointed out Channel One is used via the television program and students are not viewing Channel One on the Internet in school.  Channel One has taken extraordinary steps to address the issue raised by the Board.  Ms. Drioli pointed out even if the District no longer broadcasts the Channel One television program, it would not prevent students from visiting the Channel One Web site at home.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated there are advertisements on the Channel One television program referring students to the Channel One Web site.  Once they are on the Channel One Web site, there should be no direct way for the students to link to a pornographic site.  

Board Policies Committee Mrs. Butville reported the committee is continuing to review the various policies. 

Future Topics Dr. Bowman noted a future topic will be the budget.

Agenda Development for the January 22, 2002 Public Meeting Dr. Bowman briefly reviewed the agenda items for the January 22 Public Meeting.

Correspondence There was no correspondence.

Other Board Business There was no other Board business discussed.

Mrs. Butville moved the meeting be adjourned and Mr. Dengler seconded the motion.  The Board unanimously approved the motion.  Mr. Schoenstadt adjourned the meeting at 10:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Carol A. Calvello
Board Secretary


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