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

BOARD MEMBERS:

ADMINISTRATORS:

Mr. Steven Schoenstadt, President

Dr. Gary Bowman

Mrs. June Bostwick, Vice President

Mr. Harry Jones

Mrs. Yvonne Butville
Mr. Harry Dengler, Jr.

Mr. Joseph Paradise
Mr. P. Howard Wilson

Ms. Carol Drioli *
Mrs. Kimberly Jowett

Mr. Bruce Wyatt
Dr. Raymond Boccuti

Mr. Richard Eccles

Mr. Richard Marotto

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

SOLICITOR:   Kristina S. Wiercinski, Esq.

SECRETARY:   Mrs. Anita Walls

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

*Arrived at 7:45 p.m.

 

 

1.   Call to Order

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

2.   Pledge of Allegiance

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

3.   Announcements

No announcements were presented.        

4.   Public Comment

There was a two minute time limit per speaker.  Mr. Mike Soifer, Langhorne, spoke regarding home schooled students who participate in extra-curricular activities.  He stated he is against this and it is a mistake.  When a student is home schooled, it is difficult to enforce the rules and regulations which apply to in-school students.  He explained that problems have occurred in other districts, and a perfect example, Central Bucks West expelling football students. Mr. Soifer stated that we were lucky we did not have the same situation, but approximately eight or nine years ago parents of an All-state wrestler wanted the School Board to get involved in disciplining students after a party was thrown.  He stated the Board does not have control, and you cannot have two or three sets of rules governing students in the same activities.  You are creating a situation wherein people are not equal.  Mr. Soifer stated that people make choices in this world.  If you choose to send your child to a parochial or private school, you then cannot for a certain activity send your child to another school.  Mr. Soifer stated we are here to educate students, and that is the primary function.  If you choose to go to Neshaminy then you may participate in all the activities of Neshaminy.

Mr. Paul Schneider, Langhorne, stated that when it comes to your children it is not a choice.  Mr. Schneider introduced his son, William, who is home schooled, has attention deficit disorder and a learning disability.  Mr. Schneider�s daughter is also home schooled mostly due to the fact that her brother is home schooled, but she has trouble staying healthy throughout the school year.  The benefits of home schooling have been tremendous for his family.  He stated that the proposal the district is looking at has been adopted by approximately forty-four percent of the school districts in the state, allowing some sort of activity with home schooled children.  There are policing mechanisms that are involved.  Mr. Schneider stated that State College has a tremendous program that allows home schoolers to participate throughout the school day, in all of the classroom activities.  A point that came up several times at a meeting with the Superintendent of Pennridge and the Superintendent of State College several months ago, was that these are our kids.  That was the feeling these districts had in embracing this policy.  Mr. Schneider said, �this is your kid, please don�t let him fall by the wayside.�

Mr. Dennis Hliwski, Langhorne, stated that he is a teacher, and was appalled when reading the Philadelphia Inquirer article about the scores of the schools in Lower Bucks County for the Pennsylvania Assessment Test.  The Bucks County Technical School scored the lowest score of any high school in the Delaware Valley, not counting the Philadelphia public schools. He stated that Philadelphia, where he is a teacher takes a tremendous beating on the scores.  Eighteen high schools in Philadelphia outscored Bucks County Technical School, and ten high schools in Philadelphia outscored Neshaminy High School in their scores.  A category called �below basic� which means you barely understand the test � 67% of the kids who took the math test at the Bucks County Technical School scored in the below basic category.  A budget of l5.4 million dollars for the Tech School was proposed.  Mr. Hliwskis taxes increased by $300.00 when they opened the school.  He asked how much will the taxes increase to fulfill the new budget.  Not only Neshaminy, but other districts, are below grade when compared to other schools in surrounding counties.  He stated an investigation needs to be made as to why the scores are so low.  Some believe that the children do not care about the test.  Mr. Hliwski asked when will the children start caring and showing the people of the community that they can do first class work.    

5.       Item for Approval Appointment of School Board Secretary

Mr. Schoenstadt acknowledged the outgoing Board Secretary, Mrs. Carol Calvello.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated that it is very rare that anyone spends twenty years at any one task, but Carol has been Board Secretary for twenty years.  Mr. Schoenstadt expressed his thanks for her dedication, assistance and longevity and presented Mrs. Calvello with a token of the Boards appreciation.

Mr. Schoenstadt presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, Sections 404 and 434 of the School Code permit the Board of School Directors to elect a Secretary and an Assistant Secretary.

WHEREAS, the Board Secretary, Carol Calvello, recently resigned on March 8, 2002.  The Board of School Directors find it necessary to appoint a replacement to complete her four year term, July l, 200l through June 30, 2005.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Neshaminy Board of School Directors elect Anita E. Walls to serve as Secretary to the Neshaminy Board of School Directors effective March l2, 2002 at an annual salary of $l0,200.

Mrs. Jowett seconded the motion.  The Board unanimously approved the motion.  Ms. Drioli was not present.

Dr. Bowman congratulated Mrs. Walls on her appointment.

6.  Items for Discussion

a.    Chester County School Districts Joint Purchasing Board Apple Computer Hardware,

Software, Supplies, and Miscellaneous Items Bid

Dr. Bowman discussed the districts participation with the Chester County Joint Purchasing Board for the purchase of computer hardware, software and supplies, which has been previously done with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit.  Dr. Bowman advised that Chester County has a similar program and it is an advantage to the district to join them as a group.

b.     Board Policy #533 Home Education Program Update from Board Policy Committee

Mrs. Butville advised that the Board Policy Committee has been discussing the districts Home Education Policy, and at the present time the district does not allow home schooled students to participate in any classes, activities, or co-curricular clubs.  The Committee is looking at the possibility of including home schooled students to participate, and discussions have taken place with other districts that allow home schooled students to participate partially, i.e. after school activities, and other districts that allow them to participate in everything. 

Mrs. Butville advised that the Committee at this point has decided to lean towards allowing the home schooled students to participate in after school programs that are not connected in any way to a course during the regular school day.  The home schooled student would be able to participate in sports, or join some of the clubs offered.  Mr. Wyatt compiled a list of athletic intramural clubs which the home schooled student would be able to participate in at the high school and middle school level.  It is not too difficult to allow the student to participate in after school activities.  However, if they were able to participate in activities during the school day, as was mentioned previously, there is the policing problem, were records would have to be kept when the student was present at school, and the student would need to check-in. Transportation would need to be provided to the school district.  The policing comes with a price.  A secretary would need to keep the records of the student.  Over forty percent of Pennsylvanias schools allow home schooled students to participate in one way or another. 

Mr. Mecleary inquired whether they would need to be kept track of during the school day or afterward.  Mrs. Butville explained that if the student participated on a sports team, the student must obtain his own transportation to the school, but could then travel with the team to the location of the game.  If the team left before the end of the school day, the home schooled student would need to sign into the school and a record would need to be kept.   Mr. Mecleary inquired whether a coach could keep such records.  Mrs. Butville responded that visitors need to sign in at the main office. 

The Committee also discussed reimbursement from the state for home schooled students if they were allowed to participate during the day for a class.  One of the districts consulted does get reimbursement from the state for the minutes that a home schooled child is present in a class.

Another issue discussed was whether a student would be capable of handling the curriculum. One of the districts consulted has the student tested, while the other simply makes an inquiry to the parents.  The students must also be academically proficient in order to be eligible to participate in certain sports. 

Mr. Eccles inquired if there is a policy in effect in the school that if someone is not doing well in school, educationally, or has a problem reporting to school, is that student eligible to participate in extra-curricular activities.  Ms. Wiercinski responded that PIAA rules regulate attendance and academics as to whether a student may participate in a certain sport. 

Mr. Eccles inquired as to how the Booster Clubs felt, and it was stated that they were not approached.  Mr. Wyatt approached some of the teams and clubs regarding the curricular aspects of some co-curricular after school activities and the very close affiliation that some have.   It would need to be seen whether the home schooled parent would become an active Booster Club member, and whether the parents of students attending the district would have an objection to the monies that they have raised being used to support a child that is home schooled.

Mr. Eccles clarified that we are dealing with two (2) issues, Booster Club and Educational facility. Are they considered two (2) separate entities or are they together in the state.  Ms. Wiercinski advised that some schools have everything.  Some schools allow not just extra-curricular activities, but also allow the student to take certain courses.  If the Booster Club objected it would have an impact on the Boards decision.  Whatever the Booster Club required of the parents of the students in school that would be required of the home schooled students parent. 

Dr. Bowman has heard concerns from parents that athletics have double standards.  For their child to participate on a Friday night football game for example, their child must be in school on Friday, as well as meeting certain standards and grades.  That is one concern from parents when it comes to team sports.  Some schools were you have individual sports such as wrestling, they see it as an individual sport, but when some students meet all the standards and are sitting on the bench not playing, because you have a super star that may be home schooled, a good student, good athlete, then you start to hear the concerns about double standards.  This is something that the Board would have to work through and address.  

Ms. Wiercinski advised that the ultimate decision lies with the Board, and not the Booster Club.  The Booster Club, however, could influence the Board.  The Board has the right to say no we do not want the policy at all or that it is in favor of the policy.  The only direction from the courts involves two (2) cases regarding districts who were not allowing home schoolers to participate and it was upheld.  There was dicta about districts that would allow just extra-curricular activities and not everything else and the judge alluded that those policies might be considered arbitrary and capricious, but he was not ruling on them because they were not before him.  Ms. Wiercinski advised that if the Board decides to adopt the policy, it would be all or nothing.  The courts have never ruled on a policy with just extra-curricular activities.  We do not know what a judge would say. 

Mr. Eccles asked whether there is a definition in reference to a home educated student.  Ms. Wiercinski advised that the definition is in the school code and there are standards that must be met.  There are certain standards for home schooled students who are regular education and home schooled students that have special needs.  Each students portfolio must be reviewed with district personnel.  The district approves what the curriculum is going to be. 

Mr. Eccles inquired if we would allow the districts home schooled students to participate in extra-curricular activities, would we then be opening up the flood gates for any private or parochial school that wish at that point and time to take us to court and state that we now want to participate in your facilities and your after school activities because we now have home schooled students participating.  Is that a high probability?  Ms. Wiercinski advised that in Centennial School District an Archbishop Wood student wanted to participate on the diving team.  Centennial did not allow home schooling and she was turned down.  Whether we would prevail in the courts.  Home schooled students are looked at as one class of students.  Other classes are public schools, parochial schools, and private schools.  A judge may rule that if you are allowing home schooled students you need to allow students from a parochial school.  It has not been decided by the Courts. 

Mr. Eccles felt that the facilities in the public system in the majority of cases are much better than what a private school can provide.  Mrs. Butville advised that the home-schoolers education would have to be overseen by the district.  The district at the end of the year has an evaluator that must review and approve that year.  This is not done for a private school student. We are specifically including that no private school, charter, or cyber school student will be allowed to participate.  Mr. Eccles stated that 28% of the students in the district attend private or parochial schools and we would be discriminating, and there is an awful lot of money involved.

Dr. Spitz advised that one-half of the districts already allow for some sort of home schooled student participation.  Considering this policy is not completely out of bounds since other districts are already doing same. Mr. Eccles believed that the socio-economics of one county is much different then another. 

Mrs. Butville advised that the legislative body has been working on a bill regarding home schooled students, and requiring districts allow home schooled students to participate.  It is not law yet, but they are discussing same. 

Mrs. Bostwick advised that a home schooled student would be only from our district. 

Mrs. Butville advised that a home schooled student does not cost the district anything.  Whereas, if this same student would attend a cyber school the district could be hit with the cost.  By allowing them to participate in what they wanted, it actually saves money for the district. 

Ms. Wiercinski noted a concern could be raised regarding sports in which students get cut.  A Neshaminy student who wishes to play a sport, and is cut over someone who is a home schooled student may cause concerns.  Are people going to come to the Board saying that is not fair? These are issues that must be thought out.  The concern would be just allowing half.  State College allows everything, courses during the day and allows extra-curricular activities. 

Mr. Eccles inquired as to the size of the State College district.  Mrs. Butville advised they have about l700 students, 200 of which are home schooled, and out of the 200 they only have five (5) students that participate in the program.  Only a handful of home schooled students participate.  Neshaminy has approximately ll0 home schooled students.  Maybe only one or two would be interested. 

Mrs. Butville advised that if a home schooled student wants to participate they must participate in  their home school, i.e. within Maple Point area, must participate in Maple Point. 

Mr. Eccles requested a confirmation on the classes:

        Public school

        Home school

        Charter school

        Cyber school

        Parochial school

        Private school

Ms.  Wiercinski advised that no district has been challenged.  However, Neshaminy could be challenged.

Mr. Mecleary asked how difficult would it would be to rescind the policy once it was in effect.  Dr. Bowman stated five (5) votes.

Mr. Dengler inquired, for instance, if three or four home schooled students wished to take Chemistry at the High School, would that then require a need for an additional class or the addition of a teacher.

Mr. Mecleary stated that with forty-four percent of the school districts permitting home schooled students to participate had little or no litigation whatsoever, therefore, policy should possibly be given a chance. 

Mrs. Butville advised that every home schooled child must make application to the district, and at that time they would be presented with a list as to what would be available.  At that time they would have to indicate what they might be interested in doing in order that the district might know what students may be coming in. 

Mr. Mecleary asked whether a certain academic standard would need to be met.  Further, would they need to report to, and would the district become aware of, what the children are doing at their home school, and is this a difficult thing to administer.  Mr. Wyatt advised that at the end of the year there is a summary of progress to maintain the same standards.  Parents need to be asked the question if their child is maintaining the grades expected.  Parents are expected to answer truthfully.  If dealing with a handful of students, those parents would need to notify the school perhaps on a weekly basis.  Dr. Bowman stated that there are a few local districts that allow athletic participation, and to his knowledge a home schooled students parent has never advised the district of ineligibility due to grades. 

Mr. Wilson advised that the school district has no control or input, and no procedures to evaluate home schooled students.   The only criteria for home schooled students is that at the end of the year they must meet with a licensed psychologist or a certified teacher, not within the district, but another district, and all that person needs to verify is that they have made satisfactory progress. 

Mrs. Butville advised that no district that allows home schooled students to participate in classes during the school day issues a diploma to that home schooled student, but some will give them credit for the class, and others are just allowed to attend the class.  Their grades on tests are not recorded. 

Dr. Spitz inquired whether there is a consensus on the board now.  No one has been in favor of allowing home schooled students to take classes during the day.  Dr. Spitz is not in favor of that and should this be set aside.

Mr. Schoenstadt inquired as to the recommendation of the committee.  Mrs. Butville advised that the committee has done much investigation, and they wanted to bring this information to the full Board and get the Boards opinion as to whether we should proceed, drop it, or just considering the after school sports.  Mr. Schoenstadt asked whether there is a division on the committee as to support or not support.   Mrs. Butville advised that at this point it is recommended to just consider after school activities and not in-school classes.  If there is a sport that has an in-school requirement, then it will not be offered to home schooled students. The home schooled student will be treated as any other student and will be expected to respect the moderator or coach.   Dr. Spitz felt that this was perfectly reasonable and not arbitrary or capricious. 

Ms. Drioli arrived at 7:45 p.m.

Mr. Wyatt advised that Sheila Murphy met with Dr. Bowman, Mr. Schneider, Mr. Kelly and himself and expressed concerns regarding eligibility, double standards, and how can it be guaranteed that it would be fair and equitable to the Neshaminy students and the home schooled students. 

Mr. Mecleary stated that the legislature has set up certain rules and the Board cannot require more as long as we are in compliance with what the state is requiring and PIAA.

Mr. Schoenstadt stated that we have the following options:

Option One

      Just wait until the state legislature passes a law or does not pass a law.  Regardless of how long it takes, thats an option, and we continue with what we are doing now until the legislature tells us we need to change.

Option Two

       Adopt a policy of our own that limits home schooled students participation to after school sports or club activities.

Option Three

       Allowing home schooled students to participate in regular classroom activities during the course of the day and after school activities. 

Mr. Schoenstadt inquired whether any Board member was in favor of Option Three.  Ms. Drioli advised that she is not in favor of the home schooling concept, however, is in favor of  kids.  The most social adjustments are done in the school setting.  The district is here to serve children and the school district is here to serve children.  If a policy is adopted to allow home schooled students to participate in classes during the school day, the district will be reimbursed.  However, Ms. Drioli is more concerned about the welfare of the child, rather then her stand against home schooling.  Ms. Drioli leans toward enclosure and the whole package.  The districts role and purpose is the child.   Ms. Drioli was the only Board member in favor of Option Three.

Mr. Schoenstadt inquired how many Board members would be in favor of Option Two.  Seven board members, Mrs. Bostwick, Mr. Butville, Mr. Dengler, Ms. Drioli, Mrs. Jowett, Dr. Spitz and Mr. Schoenstadt were in favor of moving it back to committee and finalizing the policy. 

Mr. Eccles and Mr. Mecleary were not in support.

Mr. Butville advised that the next Board Policy meeting would be April l8, 2002 at 5:30 p.m. 

Dr. Bowman advised Mr. Wyatt that the list entitled Home Education Program Proposed Student PIAA and Co-curricular offerings would need to be modified to include only after school activities, and activities or classes that occur during the school day would need to be removed. 

c.       JROTC Survey Responses:

Mr. Wyatt explained that the survey was developed from the website of the JROTC and the survey was administered to 9th and 10th grade students to inquire about their interest in the JROTC programs.  The programs are offered to students by the United States Junior Reserved Officers Training Corps.   Interest for any one branch is far below necessary minimums.  Mr. Schoenstadt noted that the survey did not seem as though it was performed properly.  Mr. Wyatt explained that the survey was distributed in students homeroom, a counselor made an announcement in the homerooms asking students to read the survey, take the survey home to share with their parents, and if interested, to complete the survey and return the bottom portion of the survey to the school within a certain number of days.  If a student did not return the survey, we made the assumption that the student was not interested in the program.

Ms. Wiercinski left the meeting at 8:00 p.m.

Mr. Wyatt proposed possible next steps the Board may consider:

      Contact national JROTC to determine their interest in offering a JROTC program in the Lower Bucks County area.

      If there is national JROTC interest, schedule a district-wide parent/student information evening meeting so that additional information can be provided.

      Continued District consideration of offering JROTC at Neshaminy High School should target the 2003-2004 school year as the earliest year for implementation.

Dr. Bowman stated that based on the survey results there could potentially be sixty (60) students.  Dr. Bowman suggested contacting the JROTC and see if they are interested in offering the program.  If so, the program will be advertised to see where the interest lies.   Ms. Drioli felt that the survey was not successful and the students did not get it.  Ms. Drioli felt a show of hands would have given a better result.  Dr. Bowman advised that the district would follow up.

7.   Items for Approval

a.       Overnight Trips

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

         Eastern Regional Wheelabrator Symposium Poquessing Middle School, May 2-3, 2002, Bear Mountain, New York

         FBLA State Conference and Competition Neshaminy High School, April 7, 8, 9, 10, 2002 Champion, PA

         Technology Student Assn. State Conference Neshaminy High School, April l0-13, 2002 Champion, PA

Dr. Bowman advised that students attending the Wheelabrator Symposium would be guaranteed scholarships from Fisk University.

Dr. Spitz inquired regarding the FBLA State Conference the note regarding middle level students attending.  Mr. Wyatt advised that these students have earned the level to compete at the competition.  Dr. Bowman further advised that ninth grade is the first year of high school courses and, therefore, they would be eligible for this type of competition.

There was Board consensus for the three trips.

b.       Approval of Board Policies #5l2 High School Diploma

Dr. Bowman asked the Board to refer to line 29, the word or.  The Board Policy Committee has reviewed this and a recommendation is made that the word or be added to this policy.  Without the policy there would be a problem with the proficiency level.  The district would like the student to pass the state or local assessments; and demonstration of achievement of academic standards as established by the district.  Dr. Bowman advised that the previous wording used was and.  Mrs. Butville advised that if you passed the local and failed the state, you could not graduate.  Dr. Bowman advised that there could be special education ramifications, and our local standards are set by board policy, graduation requirements, etc. and we want to simply say that either one is sufficient for our students to obtain a high school. 

Dr. Spitz inquired whether that was the recommendation, that even if a student does not meet our local assessment, but passes the state assessment, they should graduate.  Dr. Bowman advised that the word was and and we are changing it to or.  Dr. Bowman advised that the students at Neshaminy need twenty-one (2l) credits to graduate.  There is a whole standard established in the policy for the minimum number of credits to graduate.   Mrs. Bostwick advised that it essentially allows for the ISPs.   Dr. Bowman explained that this is related to Chapter 4 of the State Board Regulations, which is in addition to the districts standards, and in Chapter 4 they refer to requirements for successful course completion, passing grades, etc., and in the past the word and was used, and if a student could not meet the Chapter 4 requirements, they cannot graduate; hence, the necessity to change to the word or.

Mrs. Butville advised that this is not affecting our graduates this year, but it will affect our graduates next year, 2003.

There was Board consensus for the recommendation and a board motion will follow.

c.       Summer School Programs for 2002

Dr. Boccuti advised that this upcoming summer will be Neshaminys 45th annual summer program.  Dr. Boccuti thanked the members of the Educational Development Committee over the past meetings who helped work through some difficult issues.  Last year we had a tremendous increase in energy costs and, therefore, looking into an increase in student fees.  The fees are the only major change to the program.  Even with the increase proposed, Neshaminy will still be one of the best buys in town.  Costs do need to be covered, since one of the aspects of the summer program is that it is self-sufficient.  Other then new dates, there is the increase in every student cost of $l5.00 per program.  The Committee hopes that in the future the increases would be in the $5.00 range per program.  Dr. Boccuti brought to the Boards attention the proposed courses for 2002, Accelerated or Enrichment Courses and under Make-Up Courses, Neshaminy High School Graduation Project course to help our students who either want to get a jump on the project or for students that may be falling behind in the time line.  Mr. Eccles inquired whether there were resident and non-resident qualifications, and would residents be given priority.  Dr. Bowman advised that residents would be given priority.  Dr. Boccuti advised that Summer School has ample room for residents and non-residents.  Summer Fine Arts tends to fill rather quickly, and so we serve the Neshaminy residents first.

There was Board consensus and a Board motion will follow. 

Dr. Bowman further advised that the Summer School Programs for 2002 will be included in the budget that the district is developing, but the program matched the expenditures with the revenue.

d.       IU #22 Programs and Services/Instructional Materials Budget for 2002-2003

Dr. Bowman advised that the costs for IU programs and services is going to be dropping next year by $l,224.00.  Mrs. Drioli has been working diligently with the Intermediate Unit Board, and we have withholding by contribution $58,498.00. On page l3 of the document is the districts obligations and the purchase services are $54,642.00 for a total of $ll3,l30.00 or $l,224.00 less then the current year.

Mrs. Drioli worked very hard in bringing that down.  Dr. Bowman announced that the new addition would be completed by June with additional meeting rooms for Bucks County activities.

Mrs. Drioli announced the meeting with the legislatures.  Dr. Spitz felt it is great that the districts contribution was going down, but there is a concern about the proposed expenditure increase of close to 80%, mostly due to benefit increases from employees.

Dr. Bowman advised that if the IU is experiencing the same issue the district is experiencing with the benefits, the employee insurance program is going up and they also have the retirement contribution being increased just like all the other school districts.  Mrs. Drioli advised that she is sure it is the retirement benefit.  The IU did not get that type of an increase in their contract.  Dr. Bowman noted on page two the contracted budget for salaries was 2.9%, but they had a l7.8% increase in benefits for all employees which would include the insurance program, as well as the retirement and social security.   Dr. Bowman noted that they have an increase of  $23,000 in the expenditures of the whole budget, and the rest are increases related to salary and benefits.

Dr. Spitz just wanted to point out that we should be concerned when the IU proposes a budget increase of 80%, and this year there is a good reason for same.  Rather then just look at our own contribution we should be looking at what they are proposing to do.

Dr. Bowman advised that this would be a board motion for the boards consideration.

 e.     IU#22 Special Education Contracted Services for 2002-2003

Dr. Bowman advised that this is an annual approval and that the district is required to enter into for any services that we utilize that are offered by the IU.

      The district first provides special education services. Our first goal is to provide it locally in our own school district.

      Second goal is to try to use the intermediate unit, because that is more cost effective before we go out to a third party which is private schools.

The district enters into a contract with the IU, which establishes what we pay them per child for the services that they are providing.  This Agreement is approved every year through Board motion. 

Mr. Eccles inquired whether this has any impact on the alternative school.  Mr. Wilson advised that these children are mostly severely involved, autistic children, severely mentally retarded children, children with cerebral palsy.  The IU operates those programs.  The district does not offer such a program. There are a large number of pre-school students coming out of the program.  Mrs. Butville questioned whether this was for 111 students.  Mr. Wilson confirmed and added the speech therapist, hearing therapist, mobility therapist. etc.  Mr. Wilson advised that staff costs are only the staff the IU assigns strictly to Neshaminy one hundred percent of the time. 

Mr. Schoenstadt advised that this would be a motion at the public meeting.

f.           Approval of Bids/Budget Transfers

        Mr. Paradise reviewed the following bids:

Bid No. 02-2l Bituminous Concrete Paving, Resurfacing and Repair

Bid Amount:  $70,050.00

The bid is for the repair of damaged and deteriorating paving at Walter Miller Elementary School and Herbert Hoover Elementary School.  The $70,050.00 bid is below the budgeted amount of $72,000.00.

Dr. Spitz commented that he is glad to see the work is being performed at Miller and Hoover.  However, the same problems are occurring at Neshaminy Middle School, in fact, right at the steps.  Typically, the students do not care, however, on election day, especially with senior citizens, several did fall.  This is a liability issue and Mr. Minotti stated it was not in the budget for this year.  Does the district not have anything in the budget for short term patching?  Mr. Paradise advised that we try not to do projects like that because we are throwing good money after bad, wasting funds.  Mr. Paradise stated he would certainly have someone investigate same.  Mr. Paradise advised that we could transfer the money from the reserve account to specifically do this job properly.

Bid No. 03-02 Athletic/Physical Education Supplies

Bid Amount:  $83,26l.l5

The bid is for supplies for physical education programs and various team sports for school year 2002/2003.  These are all staple items that are bid every year to support those programs.   This bid is distributed among approximately fifteen (l5) different vendors within that per pupil allocation of funds that the Board allows for each school, K-l2. 

In response to a question raised by Mrs. Drioli, Mr. Paradise explained that the $42,045.0l was for the High School.  Mrs. Bostwick expressed her concern regarding the huge difference between the high school figures and the other schools.  Mrs. Butville advised that the High School purchases the new uniforms and then they get passed down to the middle schools.  Everything starts new at the high school.  Mr. Paradise further advised that there was $l5,000.00 in uniforms.  Mr. Paradise advised that the High School by far has the most expensive programs, but all of the monies come out of the per pupil allocation, so they are only getting a certain amount per pupil. 

Mr. Eccles inquired regarding basketball uniforms at Sandburg.  Mr. Paradise advised that is a building decision. 

Bid No. 03-03  Technology Education Supplies

Bid Amount:  $l5,082.44

This bid is for supplies for the instruction of industrial technology, including design, problem solving and research and development for school year 2002/2003.  This bid is put out by the district, that other people do not bid, we do better by ourselves. 

Mr. Paradise advised the Fifth Budget Transfer Report in which you will find nine (9) transactions.  There are some large items, but all are within the parameters of the budget, just shift in priorities.  Nothing will come out of the reserve account.  You will note transfer #7 that actually returns almost $30,000.00 to the reserve account from unspent summer school account.  Also, note #9 which is a transfer with respect to special education transportation costs that is a situation wherein the district cannot determine until after the school year starts which is the best way, least expensive way, to transfer some of the students.  In this case we are taking money out of contracted transportation and we are putting it into salaries because we determined it was less expensive for us to transport them ourselves with our own vehicles, as opposed to contracting with an outside contractor. 

Mrs. Butville inquired as to why we are just now closing out summer school accounts and just getting that money.  Mr. Paradise advised that it takes time to resolve open purchase orders with vendors, and the only reason why we close them is to make sure that they are not inadvertently spent by some cost center somewhere. 

The three bids and fifth budget transfer report will be presented for approval at the March 26th Public Meeting.

8.          Items For Information

a.       Blue Ribbon Maple Point Middle School Site Visit Schedule for March l4 and l5

Information distributed prior to meeting.  Dr. Bowman noted that the meeting is at 6:00 p.m. Thursday, March 14th in the Library at Maple Point Middle School.  Dr. Bowman explained that the Board is asked to read the document and make themselves familiar with its contents, since this information has brought the Blue Ribbon Committee to Maple Point.  One evaluator from Washington will be present on Thursday and Friday.  A discussion will take place on Thursday with the evaluator, parent representatives will participate, and the evaluator will get a sense of the culture and peoples feelings towards the school.  The program should be completed no later then 8:00 p.m.  Five Board members plan on attending the evening.

9.          Superintendents Report

a.  Graduation Cap and Gown Questionnaire Slips

Dr. Bowman requested Board members to return the questionnaire. 

b.       Annual Report to the Community

Information distributed prior to the meeting.  Dr. Bowman expressed that this was an award-winning document.  Mrs. Butville worked on the report along with Dr. Costanzo who compiled data and various cabinet members submitted information.  This is a high quality document and there is quite an expense involved, therefore, it is not distributed to each household.  The document is available in the libraries, doctors offices, lobbies, and other locations where there are high volumes of people circulating.  It was presented to officials in the communities, county commissioners, township officials and senior citizen, etc.  Mr. Paradise advised that it is on the Neshaminy website and Mrs. Butville noted that there is an article representing each of the Neshaminy schools. The document contains articles from the Board President and Vice-President, an article regarding Mr. Wilsons appointment, and a final message from Dr. Bowman.

Dr. Bowman advised that on Monday, March 4, 2002, the Department of Education honored Frank Collins and Mike Hoy with a statewide celebration of the Milken award winners, and guests were also there from the Teacher of the Year Program as well.  This summer they will be invited to the national conference at which time they will receive Twenty-five ($25,000.00) Dollars. 

Mr. Doug Bauer, a ninth grade science teacher at Neshaminy Middle, is a semifinalist for the 2003 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year award.  Dr. Bowman expressed that this was excellent news and wonderful recognition for the school district.  The quality of Neshaminy continues to surface in many academic fields.

Dr. Bowman advised that Neshaminy received the national award for business reporting practices.  The business office continues to be recognized for the outstanding work that they are doing. 

c.    Graduation - 2002

Dr. Bowman advised that the date of graduation would be announced in two weeks.  Tentatively, it will be Wednesday, June l2, 2002, rain date Thursday, June l3, 2002 and another rain date, Friday, June l4, 2002.

10.   Committee Reports

a.    Educational Development Committee

Mr. Mecleary reported that the committee met on Tuesday, March 5, 2002.  One topic discussed was photographs in the yearbook for the ice hockey team.  The committee came to an agreement that they would like to see the ice hockey team be included in next years edition, since it is too late for this year.  However, the committee would also like to see some very specific criteria set in order for any group to be included.  Mr. Mecleary advised that the Board committee would work with the administration at the high school to determine specifically what that criteria will be.

Dr. Bowman pointed out that we need to keep in mind that the yearbook is a student yearbook, and it is not the Boards or Administrations.  The administration will be working with them to address the committee concerns.  Dr. Bowman further noted that when adding pages to the yearbook, you cannot add one full page, but twelve full pages need to be added.  In order to do this an additional cost of approximately $25.00 is added to the yearbook. 

Mr. Dengler advised that questions have arisen from middle schools regarding yearbooks. 

Mr. Mecleary reported that another topic discussed was the summer school program and the increase in cost.  The committee was also presented with a request for a pilot program in the high school.    Entrepreneurship will be the name of the program and it would be an elective for 11th grade students.  The program will be of no cost to the district.  Ideally, if the pilot is successful, the future need for more teachers should not be necessary, because that class will just draw students from other classes.  The committee provided approval for the pilot program to proceed.

Dr. Boccuti advised of an information item seeking approval for the grade nine business education majors course that would not be a new course, just revising the current course to bring it up to current needs at no cost.  Mr. Mecleary advised that the committee also made a recommendation to approve the revision.  Mr. Schoenstadt inquired as to whether that required teaching staff, and do the enrollment numbers of that curricula often fall below the minimums that we have established.   Mr. Boccuti advised that the grade nine business education majors course is one of many ninth grade electives that students may elect to take and it is based upon students that sign up for that major.  Dr. Bowman felt that the course exceeded the minimum of eighteen to twenty-two students.  Those classes hold up to twenty-four to thirty students.  Mr. Schoenstadt inquired as to what would occur if five (5) additional students elected to sign-up for the course.  Dr. Bowman advised that normally classes of five (5) students are not held.  Either class size is increased or two (2) courses may be consolidated which are similar.  Dr. Bowman further advised that Mr. Wyatt is the liaison to the Ad Hoc committee, to look at the elective program at the high school, and he has developed a packet of information that will be reviewed, and will be mailed to Dr. Spitz and the committee so that they have base-line data to review.  

b.       Educational Foundation

Mr. Dengler reported that he was unable to attend the meeting this month.

c.       Building Utilization/Finance Committee

Mr. Eccles reported the committee met two (2) weeks ago and discussed directions which would be taken.  Mr. Eccles requested and urged all board members to be present at the upcoming meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 26, 2002 at 4:00 p.m. at the high school.  Mr. Eccles felt it would be beneficial for all board members to attend in order that they may listen to the facts and figures to be presented.

d.       Intermediate Unit Board

Ms. Drioli reported that she felt it would be beneficial for board members to see and learn about the tools and programs that are used to teach some of the more remedial type of education programs, with regard to grasping things and the kind of equipment that they need to use to have children do their courses.  Some of the equipment is very interesting and enlightening.  Ms. Drioli felt confident that the IU would come on a board night, especially a public meeting night, whereat they could present examples of the tools that are used.  

Mrs. Butville advised that the IU runs a bus program that is very informative.  Ms. Drioli advised that there are other programs that the IU does with regard to the teaching and handling of students, i.e. grasping pencils six or seven different types of pencils exist for this task.

Ms. Drioli advised that if the board would ever like to schedule an evening where the IU would come in and demonstrate they would be more then happy to do so.

e.         Board Policies Committee

Mrs. Butville reported that the committee would like to develop a policy on commercialism.  Regarding the calendar that will be going out, basically, it is no cost to the district because the company is responsible for getting the ads.  The board will have right of refusal for an ad.  The committee felt that with the Neshaminy channel and some of the future things planned, the district should have a policy on what we will and will not advertise.  The committee has just begun working.  Sample policies have been received from other districts that are being reviewed. 

f.         Technical School Board

Mr. Dengler reported that ninety (90%) percent of the meeting was spent discussing concerns over the test scores.  The administration gave us an overview of the scores and how dismal they were, and how they hoped to work to correct them.  Mr. Denglers concern was that he hoped that they do not begin to teach to the test just to achieve higher scores on the test.

Mr. Schoenstadt voiced a concern that the test scores are partially driven by the quality of students.  They seem to be restricting many special education students.  Is that because they are afraid of the impact of special education students on test scores overall?  Mr. Schoenstadt advised that some of the special education students who are applying are actually being screened out.   Mrs. Butville understood that most of Neshaminys special education students were being screened out.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated that if this was due to test scores there is a problem with the whole program of evaluating these special education students. 

Mr. Mecleary advised that the percentage of special education students has remained constant over the years.  Mr. Mecleary was uncertain about the numbers from Neshaminy, necessarily, but the percentage has remained constant.  Mr. Mecleary did not know why Neshaminy special education students would be excluded. 

Dr. Bowman advised that there is a process that is used to accept students to the Technical School.  If a special education student applies, and does not meet some of the criteria, an appeal process takes place and the districts advocates will meet with the tech school staff and make the case as to why the child should be accepted or not.  Dr. Bowman stated that generally we are successful through that advocacy program, but not every student receives acceptance.  The percentage of students still remains about sixteen (l6%) percent of students in tech school, special education IEP.

Ms. Drioli acknowledges that the tech school has a certain criteria for enrollment, but in essence the tech school is all of us.  The various school boards tell the tech school how they run, and if the various school boards do not want special education students denied enrollment, they must voice this opinion. If a board sees the tech school as an instrument for special education students, then the board should not have to go to battle.  

Dr. Bowman advised that the tech school is planned around certain program offerings that are designed to provide students opportunities for success.  The districts goal is to get students into the programs in which they will be successful, whether it is a special education student or a gifted child.  

Mr. Wilson stated that there is an arbitrary number established by the tech school.  A student must be able to read above a certain grade level or the student is denied attendance.  Mrs. Bostwick noted that if the tech school program requires that the student be able to read a hazardous material document, and if a special education student is unable to do so, the student would need to be denied enrollment. 

Mr. Dengler noted that there are already quite a few IU classes running at the tech school.  Mr. Schoenstadt inquired whether that was not the purpose of going from a part-time tech school to a full-time tech school, so that they would run a full program.  If it requires the addition of special education training, it should be part of the program.  The costs have doubled. 

Ms. Drioli inquired about the 300 word essay to obtain entrance.  Are special education students required to do that? 

Mr. Dengler advised that not all of Neshaminys spaces are used.  That is why the district is being returned one million dollars.  Dr. Bowman stated that is why the budget is one million dollars less this year.

Mr. Eccles inquired whether the tech school addresses the home schooled student situation.  Mr. Dengler advised that the only activities that the tech school has are intramurals.  The tech school has no other sports teams. Mr. Dengler is not aware of any home schooled students in attendance during the normal class day.      

Dr. Bowman suggested that at the next work session in April we invite a representative from the tech school to speak to the Board regarding criteria. 

g.       Technology Committee

Mr. Schoenstadt reported that the technology committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 at 7:00 p.m. following the Finance Committee meeting. 

11.  Future Topics

Dr. Bowman advised that the budget would be a future topic.  A draft of the budget will             be forthcoming at the work session in April.  Dr. Bowman advised that due to the             impact of the insurance and retirement programs and our contractual commitments it             is not looking good.  We are working on getting the revenues together and carving out             the expenditures. 

Mrs. Bostwick inquired if there was any way that the Neshaminy channel or the website could be utilized to provide a brief explanation now as to how this problem came about so that the public can become aware that the problems have arisen due to the state legislatures.  Mr. Paradise agreed that this could be done. 

12.   Agenda Development for the March 26, 2002 Public Meeting

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

13.   Correspondence

       There was no correspondence.

14.   Other Board Business

Charts distributed at meeting.  Dr. Bowman briefly reviewed the charts.  One shows the

              Employers Contribution Rate to the retirement system and the other is the               
              Employees Average Percentage Contribution Rate Mr. Paradise anticipated the                
              question and this is the type of information that will be put on the website and the cable.

Mr. Paradise explained that the point of the two graphics is as follows:

      Employer Contribution Rate History depicts the last twelve years.

Rate between l989-l990 was almost 20%.  The employer is made up of the state half and the school districts half.  So we as a school district were paying about l0% of our salaries into the retirement system on behalf of our employees.  Due to an actuarial decision each year, that progressively went down.  However, the decreases since l997-l998 have been extreme and not proper. The rate should have been much more stable, and it was not the decision of the school district.  It certainly saved the district money going down, but in turn it also saved the state huge amounts of money.

      Employee Average Percentage Contribution Rate depicts that it has remained relatively constant, but it has increased in the last year.  The enhancements in the retirement system are actually being paid for by the employee.   The increase on the part of the employer is just because of the decreases over the last three or four years being so inappropriate.  The increases in benefits are being paid for by the employees.  Mr. Paradise will provide same on the website and cable.

Mrs. Bostwick noted that this is the information that the public needs to know.  Mr. Schoenstadt requested that employer and employee be defined.

Dr. Bowman advised that rumors exist that speak about phasing it in or taking the hit this year so it is complete, or a third approach is dont change it this year since the money is not needed next year.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated that the funds are needed in ten (l0) years.  The actuarial gave them five (5) years to bring it in line and the governor and legislatures decided to do it immediately, one lump sum.  Dr. Bowman advised that a way to balance a state budget is to reduce the employer contribution amount.  To the district it is a couple hundred thousand dollars, but to the state it is billions of dollars. A nice way to balance the budget is to reduce that rate.  That is what happened.  Mrs. Butville stated that this increase would be difficult on our senior citizens. 

Dr. Spitz requested a response regarding the administration of the PSSA writing assessment test. The concern is that two more tests are coming up in April.  The 11th graders are taking Math and Reading.  Dr. Spitz asked whether it will now take six days of four hours each day to administer a one hour test. 

Mr. Wyatt advised that one of the significant reasons for that time schedule is the busing schedule, when transportation is able to bring high school students in at another time other then their regular time.  The high school has an impact on the middle schools and elementary school rush.  The regular time to bring high school students is 7:00 a.m.  The next available time to bring in high school students is after the elementary runs are over.  Another significant reason for writing to require additional time, was that it was the opinion of the teachers that to ask a child to sit and write two (2) essays back to back would be creating an environment that the students would not respond to in a favorable way.  Three days were used for the writing.  To ask students to do two straight hours of the writing would be setting the students up for lack of interest towards the end.   Mr. Wyatt advised that there are a number of sections in Math, six or seven different Math sections, so there is less unused time in the Math and Reading sections.  Dr. Spitz inquired as to what is the current plan as to how many days it will take to administer the Math and Reading. 

         Dr. Boccuti advised that we have a window from April 8 26th.  Schools are permitted as long          as they stay within that window, to develop their own implementation of the PSSA. Each building

 works with their principal, guidance counselor, and staff to develop the best plan for implementation.  This year in addition to the high school, five (5) elementary schools have been selected to pilot the new grade 3 PSSA Reading, and next year there is a PSSA Science for grades 4, 7, and l0.  Just more and more coming from the State.  An ongoing concern and problem is how to best get this done and still maximize the instructional time.

Dr. Bowman requested Mr. Wyatt to prepare a one page report for the board mailing so that Dr. Spitzs question is specifically addressed for the testing that is coming up in April. 

Dr. Bowman advised that one of the things done because reports get published in the paper and parents voice their opinion about how we compare to other schools is that the tech school will teach for the test, because the criticism is heard publicly.  There is more to education then learning and teaching to the test.   There is much more to a school district then what is published in the paper, but that is what becomes public opinion.  The district must therefore setup the best test environment so that the students may be successful.  Other districts are following the same principles.  Dr. Bowman advised that things must be put into perspective.  The concern is that time is being wasted on something that we felt would make a difference in test scores, and we try to balance that since we have an educational program to deliver, a curriculum to provide.  The district is required to do well on the PSSA testing and SATs.  Neshaminy has some of the finest teachers and we have more individuals recognized the past couple years for quality in this district and achievements.  Decisions need to be made in order for the students to do well on the test.  Dr. Bowman advised that the district attempts to align the curriculum to the state tests.  That is not always proper, however, if you want to look good, you need to do it.  The goal is to get our students into quality colleges to be successful.  Seventy-nine (79%) percent of Neshaminy students are going to a two or four year college.  Dr. Bowman takes pride in the district.  Dr. Bowman further advised that the district does make decisions to provide good environments for testing, because we know that an environment that is set for testing properly, students will score higher then another given environment. 

Dr. Spitz advised that he can appreciate that, but urges to see if there are other ways rather then taking, for example, 10th and 12th graders out of school for four (4) hours for three (3) days to administer an 11th grade test.   Mr. Wyatt advised that when the 11th graders are taking the PSSA this year 10th graders were having graduation project meetings, and 12th graders were in school taking AP seminars and one day they were practicing for gym night.  There are very few test days that all three grade levels are not involved in something.  The physical school day is modified tremendously, however, all of the grade levels are involved. 

Dr. Spitz commented though that the majority of the 10th & 12th graders were not in school for four (4) hours, three (3) days out of the week.  Missed was a total of twelve (l2) hours and there must be a better way to administer the test and allow our students to do well, and provide a good environment for them without taking away twelve (l2) hours of class time.

Mrs. Butville expressed her thanks regarding the conservation of paper, by condensing and using the back pages.                  

Mrs. Bostwick moved the meeting be adjourned and Mrs. Butville seconded the motion.  The Board approved the motion with nine ayes.  Mr. Schoenstadt adjourned the meeting at 9:30 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Anita E. Walls
Board Secretary

 
 

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