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

BOARD MEMBERS:

ADMINISTRATORS:

 Mr. Steven Schoenstadt, President

 Mr. P. Howard Wilson

Mrs. June Bostwick, Vice President

Dr. Raymond Boccuti

Mrs. Yvonne Butville
Ms. Carol Drioli

Mr. Joseph V. Paradise
Mr. Bruce Wyatt

Mr. Richard Eccles

 

Mrs. Kimberly Jowett
Mr. Michael Soifer *
Dr. William Spitz
Mr. Edward Stack

SOLICITOR:
Robert R. Fleck, Esquire

SECRETARY:
Mrs. Anita E. Walls

OTHERS:  Approximately 16 persons from the
public, staff and press

*    Arrived at 7:00 p.m.   

 

l.   Call to Order

      Mr. Schoenstadt called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.

2.       Pledge of Allegiance

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

3.       Announcements

Mr. Schoenstadt announced that the Architectural firm of ATS&R who are working on the Neshaminy High School Facilities Project would give a presentation.  Mr. Schoenstadt introduced Mr. Paul Erickson, President of ATS&R, who will provide a presentation to the Board of the same information that has been presented to the Steering Committee in order that the Board is updated on the information that has been made available to the Steering Committee and Executive Committee.

4.       Architect Presentation on Neshaminy High School

Mr. Paul Erickson, Ms. Pat Hanauer and Mr. David Maroney made a power point presentation to the Board of School Directors and members of the audience.  Copies are available upon request from the Superintendent�s office.

 

Ms. Pat Hanauer read the Steering Committee�s recommendation to the Executive Committee:

            �The Steering Committee understands something needs to be done to address 
            
the condition of Neshaminy High School.  The solution should be comprehensive
            
in order to support the educational program, as well as health, safety and security,
            
for the foreseeable future.If cost were not a factor, a new school would be the best solution.

             However, since cost is a major issue, the Steering Committee recommends that the 
            
School board should examine all available options that would serve the educational 
            
needs of the community at a cost that can be borne by the Neshaminy taxpayers. 

            
The Steering Committee also recommends that the school board consider all options

            
for community input including informational hearings and/or a referendum.�

  Mr. Erickson invited questions and comments from board members.

 Mr. Schoenstadt commented that the Steering Committee felt that after analyzing all the information  the consensus
       recommendation was that a new school would be the best option.  However, cost was a major concern and costs were
       beyond what they thought the community could afford.  The Steering Committee asked the Executive Committee in its
       consideration and its recommendation to the Board to find options, if possible, which would show ways to reduce the costs. 

      Mr. Schoenstadt on behalf of the Executive Committee implored the architects to look carefully at the plans, and prior to presenting the plans to the Board give the Board members a list of options that are cost reduction options that the Board can use to review and analyze in order to make an intelligent decision.  

      Mr. Schoenstadt congratulated the Steering Committee and thanked the members for many hours of public service and for making a rational, community conscious decision, and presented it to the Executive Committee. 

      Ms. Drioli inquired whether the architects could provide to the Board some figures regarding state reimbursements, in particular, comparisons showing the reimbursement figures for building a new facility as opposed to renovating the existing facility.  Mr. Erickson stated that they are in the process of working through the formulas.  The numbers, which are being shown this evening, do not include any reimbursement figures.

      Ms. Drioli further stated that the district needs to look aggressively at options available to fund this type of large project.  Ms. Drioli commented that possibly the district should look towards large advertisers, such as Nike.

      Dr. Spitz posed the question to the architects that if the district could not afford a $100M facility, what improvements or renovations could occur for $50M or $70M.  Mr. Erickson advised that the Steering Committee and Executive Committee have already posed this question.  Mr. Erickson stated that you would need to take a closer look at:

         Design

         Building size

         Enrollment

         Project costs

         Construction costs

         Scope

Mr. Erickson stated efficiency and effectiveness of the space would play a major part regarding costs.  Size of systems, materials, furniture, fixtures, finishes, etc. can increase or decrease the districts costs.  Can inventory be reused, how much new technology will be provided? 

Mr. Erickson explained that $20M would basically cover systems.  There would be better airflow and the students would feel better, lighting would be brighter, the fire protection system would be improved; however, cosmetically you would not see the improvements.  There are no additions that respond to the programming, the existing building is still below the program, the 600 square foot classrooms still exist, technology has not been addressed, the exterior building finishes have not been addressed, and asbestos abatement has not been addressed.  With $40M you could further expand and introduce more technology, deferred maintenance regarding drainage, roofing, some interior finishes, some equipment such as gym partitions, parking and some asbestos abatement.  Still no additions are being provided for student accommodations.  At $80M you begin to see the renovation taking place, bringing the building up to standards; however, space is extremely tight in order to address the student enrollment.

Mr. Erickson advised that once you reach approximately 60% of the cost of a new structure, with additions, remodeling and renovations, you are at a point where it is time to replace the building for the next 50 or 60 years.

Mr. Stack inquired what does HVAC include.  Mr. Erickson stated that it included boiler replacement, unit ventilator replacement, air conditioning, duct work, etc.  Mr. Erickson stated that ceilings at the high school are very low and for duct work to be installed in certain areas is virtually impossible. 

Mr. Stack inquired regarding air filtration systems and air handler units.  Mr. Stack remarked since just recently similar units needed replacement at the Maple Point facility and he wanted to know what options existed for the high school facility.  Mr. Erickson responded that details such as these will be reviewed with the district since many types and sizes are available.  Mr. Erickson advised that geothermal systems are also an option; however, they have their advantages and disadvantages. 

Mr. Schoenstadt advised that the Executive Committee would meet sometime in late November or December in order to formulate its recommendation to the Board.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated that when ATS&R finalizes its list of options, the Executive Committee would make a recommendation to the Board in early January 2003 for the Board to review.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated that an in depth public review and analysis of information, prior to any Board decision, will occur.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated that this is the beginning of the public review of the information generated by the Steering Committee. 

Ms. Drioli requested a list of the Steering Committee members and Executive Committee members.

Mrs. Butville directed the architects to further look into cost cutting options.

Dr. Spitz commented that when the Executive Committee makes its recommendation in January it should be taking into account the positive and negative aspects.

Ms. Drioli inquired when would the presentation be given to the public, i.e. in each community? 

Mr. Schoenstadt advised that if the Board decides to construct a new facility and obtain a bond, the district is required to have at least two (2) Act 34 Public Hearings.  The Executive Committee has preliminarily determined that two is not sufficient.  Mr. Schoenstadt advised that probably five (5) meetings, maybe more, between January and June 2003 would occur.  The meetings will be held in various locations throughout the school district to involve as many of the local community members as possible.  The elementary schools will probably be one location, since the elementary school students of today are the high school students of the future who will benefit from the building. 

Mr. Wilson advised that Dr. Costanzo has already held a PTA forum meeting and the district is attempting to get all the PTA & PTO officers informed.  Mr. Wilson explained that the options would be presented to all the PTAs & PTOs in the district.  Mr. Wilson further advised that they will be notified of the Boards decisions and when and where the Act 34 Hearings occur.

Mr. Eccles was concerned that the Board was not discussing the issue of a referendum.  Mr. Eccles stated that part of the Steering Committees recommendation included a referendum.  Mr. Eccles stated that this Board needs to speak about a referendum with a project of this magnitude. 

Dr. Spitz advised that the Steering Committee recommendation stated informational hearings and/or referendum.

Mr. Eccles expressed that the issue needs to be put on the table, and it will come to a point when discussions have taken place and discussions regarding a referendum will not have occurred. 

Ms. Drioli stated that she has not heard from the community any desire for a referendum.  Ms. Drioli stated that it is imperative that the information be given to the public in order that they can be fully aware of every aspect of the potential project.

Mr. Schoenstadt advised that under the state school code and state law there is no way to conduct a binding referendum.  The state legislature has charged the nine (9) school Board members of the Neshaminy School District with a responsibility to make those decisions.  Ultimately, that is where it rests, and you cannot use the referendum to renege your elected responsibility.  Providing unlimited information on all aspects of our decision making process is the best way to proceed.  If the Board decides after an option is presented that they would be in favor of a non-binding referendum then it could occur at some future.  

Mr. Schoenstadt stated that if Mr. Eccles feels that a referendum is something that he would like to see, and if the majority of the Board is in concurrence, then that action could be taken.  However, at this point Mr. Schoenstadt felt it was premature to discuss.

Mr. Eccles commented that all this discussion about $100M is scarring people and a referendum is necessary. 

Mrs. Butville expressed that more then a referendum, the district needs to insure that the proper information is provided to the public in order that they are aware and they can formulate an intelligent decision.

Mrs. Bostwick suggested that short open houses be held at the high school facility in order for the public to tour the facility to see the conditions first hand, and witness the problems the faculty and students are facing on a daily basis.

Mr. Wilson stated that the district will be happy to hold those tours and Mr. Collins indicated that it would not be a problem.  Mr. Wilson stated that the public will need to be aware that open houses will occur and tours will be taking place at the high school in order to show the public all the goods things at the facility, as well as the things that require much work.  The Steering Committee saw all the good with all of the bad. 

Mr. Soifer commented that all the facts need to be obtained first in order to make an intelligent decision.  Speculation leads to misinformation to the public.  Facts need to be presented in order for a rational decision to be made.  There is no basis without facts.  Mrs. Bostwick made a valid point.  The public needs to be able to tour the facility.  As a member of the Steering Committee Mr. Soifer was presented with the problems at the existing building, i.e. lighting, room size, security, and safety.

Mr. Stack commented that an ideal scenario would be for 85-90% of the public to receive the information.  In May 2003, there will be a primary and at that point candidates for office will take a position and the public can elect candidates to support their position.

Ms. Drioli stated that the school district has an impact on property values, and the type and quality of facilities that the district can offer plays a major role in property values.

Mr. Stack stated that along with the possibility of spending $100M to build a new facility, the district would experience many cost savings:

         9-12 high school

         possible closure of a middle school

         better utilization of staff

         more efficient operation of new facility

         maintenance savings

        Mr. Stack advised that all the figures and numbers need to be researched and considered.

        Mr. Wilson further advised that when the ninth grade would move to the high school, ninth grade teachers would be teaching
        ninth grade students and not splitting schedules as they now are at the middle school.   Mr. Wilson stated that there will be
        savings, and it will be a much better educational system.  Mr. Wilson stated that you would not have four ninth grade
        football teams.  Considerable savings will occur in co-curricular activities. 

Mr. Soifer stated until the hard numbers are received and the public is aware, the numbers will be frightening to everyone.  What is the bottom line, what is the real cost value, what will it do?  That will determine a decision.

Mr. Schoenstadt called a ten-minute recess at 8:30 p.m.

Mr. Schoenstadt reconvened the meeting at 8:40 p.m.

5.    Public Comment

       Mr. Schoenstadt advised that public comment was for items on the agenda.  Mrs. Beck was advised to  complete a red card
       with her question and she would receive a response thereto.

6.    Superintendents Report

Mr. Wilson advised that the public meeting scheduled for November 26, 2003 would take place at the district offices, Maple Point Middle School.  The meeting will be a work session followed by a public agenda and perhaps a short executive session at which time an acting Sandburg principal may be named.  The meeting at Poquessing Middle School will be held in January 2003.  Mr. Wilson stated that notices would be provided.

7.   Committee Reports

      a.  Board Policies

Mrs. Butville reported the committee would meet on November 14, 2003.  Mrs. Butville advised that it would be very possible that recommendation of certain policies may occur by the meeting scheduled for November 26, 2002.  Mrs. Butville noted that the policies would be in the Board packets and if any questions or concerns arise, please contact her.

      b.  Educational Development

            Dr. Boccuti advised that a decision was made to proceed with the language arts reading program purchase for grades 7 and 8.  The funds were made available this past July.  The next Educational Development meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 10, 2002. 

      c.  Facilities/Finance Committee

Mr. Stack advised that a meeting was held on Wednesday, November 6, 2002.  Mr. Paradise reviewed a number of the bond estimates in association with the high school, which was for informational purposes, and further discussions will occur.   Mr. Stack advised that a major discussion was regarding a zero based initiative or an initiative that caps the districts potential increase in this years budget compared to what it was last year.  The district operates from a zero based approach.  Mr. Stack suggested that what is being heard from the community and state legislature there is desire that school boards operate within the budget, within a consumer price index.  Mr. Stack suggested that the Board not increase the budget by more then the CPI.  Mr. Stack advised that cuts might need to occur.  The challenge is to look at the discretionary items within the budget and identify the costs and benefits.  

Mr. Schoenstadt commented that the Finance Committee has provided the Administration with a directive, and at that point the Board can be more aggressive with how they approach the budget process. 

Dr. Spitz requested to receive information on what the contractual obligations for 2003 would be assuming the current staff, etc. 

Mr. Stack further advised that Mr. Paradise provided a list of expense initiatives that were considered three years ago, some of which have been implemented, such as buses, raising facility usage fees, parking fees, implementing an alternative education program in the district, etc.

Mr. Stack advised that an ad hoc committee was taking a look at teacher assignments. 

Mr. Stack advised that the district might want to look at the following:

  pay to play policy for extra curricular programs

  staggering schedule times

           Alternate revenue sources:

         earned income tax option (state legislature possible tax reform)

         property tax reform on state level

         federal grants

         Tawanka facility

           Mr. Stack suggested that it might be beneficial to the school district to have a consulting contractor, to seek grants for a
           percentage of the grants.  Mr. Stack advised that this would not be a regular full time employee; it would be a contract
           employee.  Mr. Stack advised that this would be something the committee would like the district to pursue and consider,
           and report back to the Board regarding the feasibility. 

Mr. Schoenstadt advised that the district is receiving $48,000 for the three rooms being utilized at the Tawanka facility by the alternative school.  Mr. Stack advised that the district needs to look at bringing in additional students from outside of Neshaminy. 

Mr. Stack commented that discussions took place regarding the check register and for purpose of discussion at school board meetings a better document could be provided with more detail. 

Dr. Spitz suggested that he has reviewed the sample register and he would like the register to show a year to date total for each vendor and have one monthly alphabetical list of vendors.

      d.  Intermediate Unit Board

There was no report.

      e.  Educational Foundation

Dr. Spitz advised that the Tenth Anniversary Dinner would take place on Friday, November l5, 2002.

A silent auction will be held and the proceeds benefit the Neshaminy Education Foundation.

      f.  Technical School Board

Mrs. Butville advised that an open house would take place on Thursday, November 14, 2002.  The PIA committee began reviewing their full book of policies.  The PSBA made recommendations as to changes, and the Tech School Board will take one section per month to review and make changes.

Negotiations with the support staff are ongoing.  Mrs. Butville advised that last year the PSSA scores were quite low, and an aggressive plan was taken to raise the scores.  Scores have improved. 

Mrs. Drioli inquired the cost of the Tech School.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated $39M.

      g.  Technology

Mr. Stack distributed notes prepared regarding the October 29, 2002, meeting.  Mr. Stack reviewed committee-meeting notes.  Mr. Stack advised that the current years budget provides $1.1M towards technology.  Mr. Stack advised that more funding needs to be applied to teacher training and integration of the technology into the curriculum. 

Mr. Stack advised that Board members should receive a copy of the upgrades made within the district and current inventory list of PCs.  Mr. Stack advised that discussion ensued regarding the elementary school labs that are over ten years old and contain antiquated equipment.  Mr. Stack advised that it was noted that the labs should be maintained and replaced.  Mr. Stack advised that some of the larger elementary schools could use a second lab, for purposes of providing all students access.  Mr. Stack advised that possibly a smaller bond would be required to replace the elementary labs. 

Mr. Stack further advised that discussions were held regarding whether the district has adequate support to handle the technology systems.  Over 2500 computers exist within the district.  Staff consists of a manager, system network support, help desk support, and 2 system support technicians.  Mr. Stack inquired whether that was adequate in lieu of all the additional technology that may be introduced.  Mr. Stack advised that technology support handled 7,04l calls since 1998.  Mr. Stack advised that it might be necessary for the addition of an application specialist, who would write business applications, which would provide a savings to the district.

Dr. Spitz raised a concern regarding teachers/staff bringing their own personal laptops into the school building and hooking into the Neshaminy network.  Intentions may be good; however, if a virus exists on their computer it infects the district.  Support staff spent hours trying to rectify such a situation.  The Administration needs to implement a policy and get the word out to teachers.  Dr. Spitz felt that it is intolerable.

8.       Future Topics

9.    Agenda Development for the November 26, 2002 Public Meeting

       Mr. Wilson stated that agenda development would be at the work session followed by the Public Board Meeting. 

10.  Correspondence

  No correspondence was received.

12.   Other Board Business

Mr. Eccles complemented the Transportation Department for finding a lost item.  Mr. Eccles thanked Ms. Cindy Lauer, Secretary, and Ms. Cecelia Ridge, Driver, for their help. 

Mrs. Butville commented that she has heard from the public that at the last football game of the season the field was very wet, and the band was not allowed to proceed onto the field to perform.  Many community members were upset.  Mrs. Butville agreed that the field is not just a football field it is a school field, for all students.  Mrs. Butville noted that a policy should be implemented that the field is used by all students. 

Mrs. Drioli disagreed.  Mr. Schoenstadt stated that the officials would not allow the field to be used by anyone other then the football team, because of the fields condition.  Since the officials made the decision we cannot fault the district staff.

Dr. Spitz commented that Mr. Collins attended the instrumental music boosters meeting that was held last week and was made aware of the concern that many parents had over the issue.  Dr. Spitz suggested it was a matter of communication.  The officials suggested for the bands not to perform, as well as the districts field maintenance personnel also recommended that the bands not march on the field since it would make it unusable for the football game.  Dr. Spitz advised that Mr. Collins is addressing the issue. 

Ms. Drioli advised that sometimes a person or several people make a decision, and if that decision is not agreed with or liked by everyone, it does not necessarily mean that a new policy be implemented.  A judgment call was made, right or wrong, and these decisions need to be tolerated.  Ms. Drioli advised that if it is a constant concern something needs to be done, otherwise, leave it alone.

 

Mrs. Butville wanted to make the point to treat all students equally.

 

Mr. Stack thanked the girls field hockey team, boys soccer team, and boys varsity football team for wonderful seasons.

 

Mr. Schoenstadt congratulated Mr. Paradise and the students responsible for providing the football games on television

 

Mr. Soifer moved the meeting be adjourned and Dr. Spitz seconded the motion.  The Board voted to adjourn the meeting with nine ayes.  Mr. Schoenstadt adjourned the meeting at 9:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Anita E. Walls
Board Secretary

 
 

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