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The Neshaminy Board of School Directors met in public session on October 8, 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  
Mrs. June Bostwick, Vice President  
Mrs. Yvonne Butville 
Ms. Carol Drioli*  
Mr. Richard Eccles  
Mrs. Kimberly Jowett
Dr. William Spitz
Mr. Edward Stack  

SECRETARY: 
Mrs. Anita Walls  

* arrived at 7:l5 p.m.

Mr. P. Howard Wilson 
Mr. Richard Marotto
Mr. Joseph V. Paradise  
Mr. Harry P. Jones  
Mr. Bruce Wyatt  

SOLICITOR:
 Kristina S. Wiercinski, Esquire  

OTHERS
:  
Approximately thirty-two persons from the public, staff and press **  

** 7:25 p.m. approx. twelve person


1.   Call to Order

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

Pledge of Allegiance

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

Mr. Schoenstadt presented Harry Dengler with the following award:

            �Harry M. Dengler, Jr. is hereby recognized for his outstanding service
           
and dedication to the children of the Neshaminy School District.� 

Mr. Schoenstadt advised that Mr. Dengler was a school board member from 1991-2002 and the award
was presented to Mr. Dengler by the Superintendent of Schools and Board of School Directors.

3.   Announcement

No announcements.

Mr. Stack inquired whether the Board would agree to an additional item for discussion this evening regarding �Board Communications�.  There was Board consensus for such discussion, and it was added as Agenda Item 6(e).

4.   Public Comment

Mr. Schoenstadt advised that there would be a time limit of two minutes per speaker.

Mr. Solis Basen, Langhorne, resident of Village of Flowers Mill, advised that he had three subjects he wished to speak about:  request of taxpayers to have board meetings televised; new high school construction; and the county is suggesting building a new courthouse. Mr. Basen is not against education, however, this will have a great impact on the taxpayers.
Mr. Basen advised that he was representing several of the residents of Flowers Mill.

Ms. Laurie Green, Levittown, wanted to bring to the Board�s attention that for several years the district has not permitted walkers to go home during lunchtime for safety reasons.  Ms. Green does not have a problem with this; however, the fact that crossing guards are still paid to be at their posts throughout the entire lunch period is a concern.  Tax dollars continue to be used to pay the crossing guards for at least two hours.  Ms. Green was not sure of the number of crossing guards throughout the district, however, after calculating the figures she felt taxpayer�s money was being wasted.

Mr. Marvin Dickler, Langhorne, resident of Village of Flowers Mill, advised that he was aware that a committee had been formed to look into the feasibility of whether there should be a new high school.  Mr. Dickler further advised that the committee was given three options:  do nothing, new construction or renovation.  Mr. Dickler felt other options have been overlooked, mainly the Maple Point facility, which was originally built as a high school.  Times are difficult.  Mr. Dickler expressed to the Board that the voters should be given the opportunity to voice their opinion, rather then a decision of that magnitude being made by members of the Board.

Mr. Sy Goldstein, Langhorne, resident of Village of Flowers Mill, advised that an issue as important and expensive as a new high school needs to have more public discussion, and there should be a public referendum.

Mr. Jack Shaw, Langhorne, resident of Village of Flowers Mill, twenty-five year resident of Neshaminy School District.  Mr. Shaw�s children graduated from Neshaminy High School.  Mr. Shaw expressed that an expenditure of that amount of money needs input from the taxpayers and that would best be served by having a referendum. 

Mr. Harvey Brightman, Langhorne, resident of Village of Flowers Mill, moved into the area approximately two years ago from Massachusetts and is amazed at the tax rate.  Mr. Brightman advised that in Massachusetts the school board recommended that the town vote on a similar issue.  Mr. Brightman advised that it was a democratic situation, not just a few people made the decision.

Mr. Jay Hambro, Langhorne, resident of Village of Flowers Mill, suggested that the agenda for the meetings be put onto the television a number of days or weeks prior to the meeting in order that residents could have some idea whether they wished to attend.

Mr. Phil Schieber, Langhorne, resident of Village of Flowers Mill, advised that his neighbors are telling him that the high school issue needs to be brought to a vote before all of the taxpayers of Neshaminy School District.  Mr. Schieber respectfully requested that this be put on the very next agenda for referendum that is available.  Mr. Schieber was aware that it would not be this year.

Mr. Charles Lauble is a resident of Neshaminy and has children in the district.  Mr. Lauble graduated from Neshaminy in l959.  The first person in his family to graduate from the district was in 1934, and Mr. Lauble advised that his family has a long history in the school district and most are still residents of the district.  Mr. Lauble expressed that he does not want a new high school.  Mr. Lauble stated that the high school was good enough for him and will be good enough for his children.  Mr. Lauble advised that the school has not deteriorated that much since the time he attended.  Mr. Lauble empathizes deeply with the other residents regarding taxes.  Mr. Lauble stated that the problem is not taxes; the problem is spending too much money.  A cap needs to be put on what the schools are spending.  Mr. Lauble advised that he received a great education at Neshaminy and he wants the same for his children.  Mr. Lauble did not feel that his children were getting the best education for the amount of money that is being spent.  Neshaminy should be an asset to the community.  Mr. Lauble asked that taxes be kept down by reducing spending.

Mr. Murray Greenberg, Langhorne, resident of Village of Flowers Mill, advised that a new high school would place a burden on many senior citizens due to the stock market.  At this particular time Mr. Greenberg does not want the school project to proceed for economic sake.

Mr. Owen Logan, Langhorne, resident of Village of Flowers Mill, encouraged the referendum since he would not like to see his taxes go any higher.  Mr. Logan expected a certain tax when he became a resident of Neshaminy and his taxes are currently 50% higher.  Mr. Logan is formerly from the state of Michigan and Mr. Logan stated that the governor increased the sales tax by 2% and Mr. Logans taxes were decreased.

Mr. Schoenstadt advised since many of the public were leaving at this point of the meeting he wanted to share with them an editorial that was printed in the August 21st Courier Times regarding taxes and the way to solve the tax problem.  Mr. Schoenstadt had written a guest opinion, which identified the real cause of tax increases in this community and most communities throughout the state.  Mr. Schoenstadt advised that the State has failed in its responsibility to adequately fund education.  School districts must turn to real estate taxes.  Bucks County does not have a rolling reassessment.  Other counties reassess based on market values, which in turn provides additional money for school districts.  Even though the residents of Flowers Mill would benefit from a countywide reassessment 98% of the citizens of Bucks County would not benefit from a reassessment.  Mr. Schoenstadt advised that another way to solve the problems would be for the State to fully fund special education.  Neshaminy spends $14M a year on special education and receives less then $4M combined from the State and Federal government to fund the mandates that are required by the State and Federal government. 

Mr. Schoenstadt advised residents that they need to get their legislators to get full funding for special education.  Another method would be raising income taxes.  People who have earnings pay income tax and that would not burden the seniors.  Mr. Schoenstadt advised that seniors represent thirty percent of the taxpayers of Neshaminy.  The State has reduced the amount that they contribute to the education of the students from 57% to 17%.

Mr. Schieber advised that the residents of Flowers Mill will be in touch with their elected officials. Mr. Schoenstadt requested Mr. Schieber to advise the Board of any meetings that they could possibly attend in order to help.

Items for Discussion

Possible change in board motions.

Mr. Wilson recommended to the Board that when numerous motions are read at a Public Board meeting, and since consensus was obtained at the Board Work Session, a vote be taken for all the motions simultaneously.  Mr. Wilson advised that all motions are still made available to the public and board members.  Mr. Wilson further advised that if any motion were contentious then that motion would be voted on individually.  A roll call vote would still be taken for various motions.  Many other districts in Bucks County are doing it this way to provide efficiency during board meeting.

Discussion ensued amongst Board members regarding what would occur if discussion were necessary on a specific motion.  Dr. Spitz expressed concerned that members of the public would not be aware of the motions from the Work Session.  Dr. Spitz often requests additional explanation, specifically for the benefit of the public.

Ms. Drioli stated that at this particular time our Public Board meetings are not as lengthy as the Work Session because many items are worked through at the committee level.  Ms. Drioli is concerned that the public would not look favorably on a change of this nature. 

Mr. Stack advised that the motions should be fully published and made available to the public.

Items for Approval

Overnight Trips

Dual Meet at Philipsburg High School, Philipsburg, PA Neshaminy High School
December 6 & 7, 2002

Manheim Wrestling Tournament, Lancaster, PA Neshaminy High School
December 27 & 28, 2002

Debate Tournament States, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA
Neshaminy High School March 20 & 21, 2003

History Club to Washington, Annapolis, Baltimore Neshaminy High School,
May 17-19, 2003.

There was Board consensus for the trips.

American Education Week November 10-16, 2002

Mr. Wilson stated that American Education Week would take place on November 10-16, 2002.

There was Board consensus for American Education Week.

       c)            Contracted Transportation Services for 2002 -2003

            Mr. Paradise advised that the district is required to provide transportation to students who do not 
           
attend Neshaminy School district due to probation placement, etc.  The three contracts total 
           
$117,000.  Mr. Paradise wanted to make Board members aware of the increases that this
           
transportation has seen in the past three years:  2001- $80,000; 2000- $76,000; 1999- $47,000.
           
The district has no control over the number of students or where they come from.  Mr. Paradise 
           
advised that this is still the most efficient way to provide the transportation. 

Mrs. Butville requested that this issue be put on the public meeting agenda in order for the public to be aware of the costs involved with this mandatory service.

Approval of Bid/s Budget Transfers

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

Bid No. 03-23 Boiler and Chiller Replacement at Pearl Buck Elementary School

Bid Amount:  $454,350.00

Replacement of complete boiler and chiller at Pearl Buck Elementary School.  The bulk of the funds are coming from the swing loan. 

Mr. Stack inquired whether there would be a significant maintenance decrease.  Mr. Paradise advised that there would be approximately a $20,000 annual reduction in energy costs.  Ms. Drioli suggested that the boiler and chiller will be new, however, the building is still antiquated.  In response to a question raised by Mr. Eccles, Mr. Paradise advised that Pearl Buck was designed as a totally air conditioned facility. 

Bid No. 03-24 HVAC Replacement at Maple Point Middle School

Bid Amount:  $327,800.00

Replacement of 3 rooftop air conditioning units at Maple Point Middle School.

Ms. Drioli was concerned about the monies, which have been put into the Maple Point facility since it was renovated, and now this large amount for air conditioning.  In response to a question raised by Mrs. Butville, Mr. Minotti advised that the problem with the air conditioning in the Maple Point auditorium was due to one of these above units.  Mr. Paradise advised Board members that there are a total of nine (9) more units remaining, which will need replacement in the future.   Mr. Minotti advised that the district would save approximately $95,000 per year in energy costs due to the replacement of the units with a life of twenty years. 

            Bid No. 03-25 Reconditioning Football Equipment

            Bid Amount - $35,100.00
           
Reconditioning football equipment for all four middle schools and Neshaminy High School for 
           
School years 2002/2003, 2003/2004, 2004/2005.

Mr. Paradise advised Board members that this bid covers various football equipment and allows the district to have the equipment reconditioned and painted. 

The three bids and Budget Transfer Report No. 03-l (working copy) will be presented for approval at the October 22, 2002 Public Meeting.

Board Communications

Mr. Stack suggested that the district look at other ways in which we communicate our meetings, agenda, times of meetings, etc. to the public.  Mr. Stack felt that any information that can be made available more readily to the community would be advantageous to the Board.  Dr. Costanzo advised that notice of the meetings are presently located on cable TV and the website sufficiently in advance of all meetings.  

Dr. Spitz suggested that all public meetings, times, locations, etc. need to have a link on the website and also create an e-mail list and hot-line phone number for taxpayers who would like to either receive the information via e-mail or call.  Also, the agenda should be made available by Monday before the meeting in order for taxpayers to be aware of the following evenings agenda.

Mr. Wilson informed Board members that a quality flyer was forwarded to every household in the community about the high school with the name of the superintendent and phone number for any taxpayer who had a question.  The mailing went to 27,000 homes and one (l) call was received.

Mr. Schoenstadt suggested that the Administration look at the practicality and feasibility of methods identified by the Board, and further determine what the cost would be to televise the meetings.

Mr. Eccles advised that televising the meetings live is not necessarily required; however, taping the meetings would give the public the opportunity to view the board sessions. Mrs. Butville pointed out that not every household receives cable TV and other avenues will also be required.

Ms. Drioli advised that she would not support televising the board meetings because some Board members may not feel comfortable voicing their opinions in front of a camera.  Ms. Drioli felt that even though a reporter is present at the meetings, televising it would inhibit Board members from possibly disagreeing with one another, hash out problems, being open and honest in their discussion, etc. 

Mrs. Bostwick advised that some districts only present the verbal/audio portion of the meeting, which may be less expensive then televising it.

Mrs. Butville advised Board members that last year the audio portion was obtained for Speak Your Piece and the high school students worked on this project.  Mrs. Butville further advised that tapes could be available in the public libraries for residents to view.  It is the Boards responsibility to make correct information available to the public. 

Mr. Eccles felt that if the camera was present at meetings Board members would think before they spoke and members would be more open and honest.  The camera would not be a hindrance.

Mr. Schoenstadt suggested that the Technology committee research the following:

Feasibility
Costs  (audio vs. video)
Location of meetings
Mobile unit

Dr. Spitz suggested that a disclaimer be provided that information found in local newspapers is not identified as official public notice and is subject to error.

Mr. Paradise advised Board members that e-mail addresses could be obtained, and a front page link can easily be created for the website.  Providing the agenda is feasible, however, providing all the motions would be more cumbersome. 

Mr. Schoenstadt stated that on the topic of communication he was concerned that the newspaper did not even send a reporter to the last two steering committee meetings.

Mrs. Butville made the suggestion that after Public Comment there was a time for Board Response.  Mrs. Butville felt some of the comments could be responded to before the public leaves the meeting. 

Discussion ensued amongst Board members regarding the feasibility of providing such board response.

Ms. Drioli stated that the Blue Cards need to be completed in order that a Board member can obtain a response for them. 

Dr. Spitz suggested the practice of a ten-minute break sometime during the public meeting at which time questions from the public could be answered by individual Board members.

Ms. Wiercinski advised that from a legal standpoint the Board has the obligation to have the meetings in public, however, it is your meeting as a board, nine (9) members discussing the issues.  Under the Right to Know Act and Sunshine Law it is required that a public comment portion is included.  The intention is not that open dialogue between the public and Board occurs.  The law does not expect the Board to answer every question that is posed.

Mr. Schoenstadt suggested that every person who signs the public comment sheet must then fill in a blue card in order to receive a response.  Also, the taxpayers e-mail address should also be included on the blue card. 

Mr. Paradise summarized that he would look into the following issues:

Feasibility /cost of televising meetings (one facility/multiple facilities)
E-mail list
Front page link (re:  Board meeting dates and times) (standard disclaimer should be included)

       Mr. Wilson stated that all notices are now being forwarded to the Courier Times with return receipt
    
  requested and since those steps have been taken, all information has appeared correctly and no errors                 
      
have occurred.                                            

7.    Superintendents Report

Mr. Wilson advised that Dr. Costanzo and Mr. Paradise have been interviewing companies to prepare a video presentation regarding the high school, which will be presented on the cable channel.  Mr. Wilson advised that the high school is not being renovated or built tomorrow.  A process needs to be followed and Act 34 requires at least two (2) community input meetings.  Patience needs to be had with questions and all questions will eventually be answered.  Mr. Wilson stated that times change, needs of students change, technology has changed.  Mr. Wilson feels that the public will be satisfied with the process upon completion.

Mr. Schoenstadt announced that any Board member interested in attending the 63rd Annual School Board Conference in San Franciso on April 5-8, 2003, must notify the Superintendent as soon as possible.

8.     Committee Reports:

Board Policies Committee

Mrs. Butville reported that the next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 10, 2002, and topics to be discussed will be nepotism, patronage and integrated pest management.

Educational Development

Mrs. Butville reported that the next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 15, 2002.  Mr. Marotto will be discussing No Child Left Behind.

            Mrs. Butville reported on the PA School Board Associations, Pride and Promise Campaign.  It 
           
was developed to increase the publics awareness of the value of public schools in todays
           
marketplace of educational alternatives, and in doing so, to increase awareness of the role of the 
           
local school boards education in the process of achieving quality education.  Mrs. Butville
           
advised that the concern is that most newspaper coverage is negative.    PSBA was extensively 
           
evaluated by the NSBA and that PSBA is one of the best state organizations.  Mr. Edward Gobin
           
of Bristol Township is the current President.  Workshops were held on assessment, Internet use, 
           
development of leadership, school construction and the legislative update.  Legislative policy
           
council voted on all aspects of school issues.  A vote was taken whether school board members 
           
should be paid and very few members voted in favor of this, therefore, it was not moved to the 
           
agenda.   Mrs. Butville advised that the legislators are blaming school boards for spending to 
           
much money.  They are not taking responsibility for all the unfunded mandates that have been
           
forced upon the districts. 

Finance/Facilities

Mr. Stack advised that the committee is awaiting the recommendation of the steering committee and executive committee.  The committee will meet on Wednesday, November 6, 2002.  Mr. Stack advised that the committee would evaluate fixed costs, programs, and activities.  Revenue, such as grants, will also be evaluated.

Mr. Schoenstadt advised that the twenty-two member steering committee is looking at the options and they will make a recommendation to the executive committee.  The executive committee will then make a recommendation to the Board. 

Mr. Eccles stated that community members are concerned regarding tax increases.  Mr. Eccles stated that he would be a proponent of a referendum, because a decision of this magnitude and the impact that it will have on the community needs to be made by a vote.  Mr. Eccles further stated that a decision that will make a difference for the next 40-50 years needs community input.

Mr. Schoenstadt advised that Board members were elected by the community to make such decisions.  Mr. Schoenstadt advised that if the recommendation of the committee were to do nothing then we would just continue to maintain the buildings. 

Ms. Drioli advised that it is the responsibility of the Board to make the community aware of the condition of various buildings and what projects need to be considered.  Ms. Drioli stated that this district needs a high school that will address the needs of the students and recognize the best financially responsible way to accomplish it.  Ms. Drioli advised that if the correct information is distributed she is not opposed to a referendum.

Mr. Schoenstadt advised Board members that at this time it is premature to have discussion of this nature due to the fact that the steering committee at this point has not made a recommendation to the executive committee. 

Mr. Wilson advised Board members that the cabinet has begun obtaining figures regarding contracts, fixed costs, etc. earlier then ever before in order for decisions to be made.

Intermediate Unit Board

No report.

Educational Foundation

Dr. Spitz reported that he met with Dr. Costanzo in order to be brought up to date on foundation issues.

Technical School Board

Dr. Spitz reported that several students represented the school at VICA, a national competition in Kansas City.  Two individuals placed first and also a second and third place winner resulted.  The tech school consistently has winners at this national competition.

Technology

Mr. Stack reported that a meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 29, 2002 at 7:00 p.m.

Audio/video recording of board meetings will be discussed.  Mr. Stack advised that the district needs to determine a firm understanding of what investment exists in technology.  Mr. Stack would like to see the technology integrated into the curriculum.  Student and teachers need to be working with the software and technology needs to be integrated into the program. Mr. Stack advised that the elementary school labs are thirteen years old and part replacement is not feasible.  Possibly the district will need to consider a bond issue to bring technology needs current.    

Future Topics

Dr. Spitz inquired about a more formal presentation of the monthly check register.  Further, Dr. Spitz asked for an update on policies that had been previously approved such as home-schooled students, cameras on buses, Channel l, etc.  Dr. Spitz advised that an important part of a Board members position is to reevaluate the policies and an annual status report by the Administration would be helpful.

Dr. Spitz inquired whether the directives that the Superintendent has issued to update job descriptions and formalize the screening process need to be formulated into policies. (i.e. the Administration must keep job descriptions updated and follow a formal screening process).   Ms. Wiercinski responded that it would be acceptable.

Ms. Drioli suggested that the Superintendent should be subject to an evaluation by the Board on a yearly basis.  Mr.Wilson stated that he would have no problem with such an evaluation. 

Mr. Schoenstadt advised that Mr. Wilson has initiated an Administrative review.

Dr. Spitz inquired regarding the status of Tawanka School.

Ms. Wiercinski advised that since the Right to Know law has been amended a discussion must be had at the November Board Policies meeting regarding the issues.   

10.   Agenda Development for the October 22, 2002 Public Meeting

 Correspondence

 No correspondence.

 Other Board Business

Dr. Spitz advised that the Neshaminy High School Band participated in a competition in Boyertown and won the award for Best Overall Band and several other awards.

Dr. Spitz moved the meeting be adjourned and Mr. Eccles seconded the motion.  The Board approved the motion with eight ayes.  Mr. Schoenstadt adjourned the meeting at 9:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Anita E. Walls
Board Secretary

 
 

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