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PUBLIC BOARD MEETING MINUTES (PUBLIC MEETING)
NESHAMINY BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS
May 27, 2003 

The Neshaminy Board of School Directors met in public session on May 27, 2003, at Maple Point Middle School Auditorium.  
The following persons were in attendance:

BOARD MEMBERS:

ADMINISTRATORS:

 

 

Mrs. June R. Bostwick, President

Mr. P. Howard Wilson

Mrs. Yvonne V. Butville
Ms. Carol A. Drioli
Mr. Richard M. Eccles

Dr. Raymond J. Boccuti
Mr. Harry P. Jones
Mr. Richard S. Marotto

Mr. Steven E. Schoenstadt*

Mr. Joseph V. Paradise

Mr. Michael A. Soifer

Mr. Bruce M. Wyatt

Dr. William H. Spitz
Mr. Edward T. Stack

BOARD MEMBER NOT PRESENT:
Mrs. Kimberly A. Jowett

OTHERS:  Approximately 400 persons from the public, staff and press

SECRETARY:  
Mrs. Anita E. Walls

SOLICITOR:
Thomas E. Profy, III, Esquire

 *left meeting at 11:15 p.m.

 STUDENT REPRESENTATIVES:
Ms. Samantha Magathan
Ms. Ashley McNulty

Call to Order

Mrs. Bostwick called the meeting to order at 8:00 p.m.

Pledge of Allegiance

Mrs. Bostwick requested those in attendance join in the salute to the flag.  

Student Representative Reports

Ms. Samantha Magathan and Ms. Ashley McNulty provided the following report:

         Senior Prom was held on Saturday, May 24, 2003

         Academic Recognition Dinner is Wednesday, May 28, 2003

         Graduation Projects took place last week and went well

         Senior Awards will take place on Sunday, June l, 2003

         Final Exams for Seniors begin May 29, 2003

         Senior Picnic will take place on June 6, 2003

         Art Show took place May 19-23, 2003

         Spring Concerts took place May 20-22, 2003

         Brian Kennelly & Lindsay OConnell were named Scholar Athletes by the Bucks County Courier Times

         Yearbooks were distributed Friday, May 23, 2003

         Softball won the SOL Championships

         Baseball lost first round districts

         Boys track had three athletes advance to States

         Girls track had four athletes advance to States

         Volleyball lost in first round districts

         Girls soccer lost in first round districts

Board Recognition

Mr. Wilson was pleased to present awards to Future Problem Solvers who are coached by Kevin Knowles and Marian Reed who will be accompanying the 11th grade students who will be participating at the International Competition that will be held at the University of Connecticut.  The 6th grade students have been coached by Kevin Reed and Jared Katz.  Mr. Katz will be accompanying the 6th grade problem solvers.  The 11th grade team:  Amanda Dombach, Brynn Keller, Christa Meenan and Julieanne Viray.  The 6th grade team:  Jared Middleman, Alanna Moss, Taylor Standiford, and Ivy Laceboard.

Ms. Drioli was pleased to present awards to Poquessing Middle School students who participated at the PIAA Penn Relays.  Mr. Bruce Wunderley was the coach and the students were:  Meredith Webster, Katrina Iskra, Stephan McClinty and Ashley Jones.

Announcements

Dr. Boccuti, Assistant Superintendent, addressed three (3) proposed music cuts.  Dr. Boccuti was pleased to announce that over the past week he had the opportunity to speak with thirty (30) different music boosters and share the information with them.  Dr. Boccuti advised that there are three (3) major points why the district is looking into some small cuts in the music area:

         District enrollment is declining

         Instrumental music lesson groups are as low as 1-2 students per lesson group

         Music and other subjects become elective programs in grade 9.  The district cannot afford to run a class  
   with 5 students, not only in music, but in any subject area.

Dr. Boccuti advised that the district is recommending a .2 music cut at Maple Point (l period), .4 cut at Sandburg Middle School, and a .4 cut at Poquessing Middle School.  Dr. Boccuti stressed that these cuts are resulting from strictly enrollment driven decisions.  Dr. Boccuti advised that in reference to contracted music teachers there will be no reduction in staff.  The cuts add up to one (1) position and there is one (1) person who is retiring, so there will be no contracted music position lost in the district.  Dr. Boccuti advised that there are four (4) music teachers in the long term pool and it is the districts goal to find a place for them in the district. 

Dr. Boccuti encouraged that if anyone has a question regarding district enrollment to speak with Mr. Marotto, Director of Elementary Education or Mr. Wyatt, Director of Secondary Education.

Mrs. Bostwick requested Board consensus to add Board comment after the first Public comment.  There was Board consensus for such Board comment.

Public Comment

Mr. Stephen Perloff, Langhorne, PA, commented regarding the Academic Enrichment Program and he has two daughters finishing 10th and 4th grade who are students of Mrs. Rosen at Oliver Heckman.  When his older daughter reached middle school we were very disturbed to find that there was no academic enrichment in Math or Science.  Mr. Perloff noted that the district should not allow mediocrity in academic enrichment.  This program should be supported.  Mr. Perloff advised that his daughter was enrolled at the George School since she was bored.  Mr. Perloff noted that it was something that they could not afford financially, however, it needed to be afforded morally and ethically.  Mr. Perloff would much rather pay that money in taxes to support the academic enrichment program at Neshaminy.  Mr. Perloff urged the support of the program to give the academic students the kind of support that the student athletes receive, and make Neshaminy number one academically, as well as athletically.

Mrs. Joan Moyer and Mr. Christian Moyer, Feasterville, PA, advised that she has three (3) sons who are going through Neshaminy School District and all are participating in the academic enrichment program.  Mrs. Moyer is pleased with Neshaminys academic enrichment program.  Mrs. Moyers children were students of Lower Southampton where Mrs. Rock was the full-time teacher.  Mrs. Moyers third son, however, did not have a full time AE teacher.  Mrs. Rock resigned as the AE teacher due to the fact that the position was not done justice being part time.  Mrs. Moyer stated that as a parent you are hoping that some teacher will find a special skill or talent of your child and help them draw that out.  Consistency helps with that process, and Mrs. Moyer would hate to see that lost.  The district should be proud of the program and it should not receive cuts.  Mrs. Rock took students to the city on public transportation, visited Federal courts, historic areas, etc.  Mrs. Moyer hoped that the quality of the program would be considered and the continuation of same would occur.

Mr. Christian Moyer, Feasterville, PA, graduate of Neshaminy School District and a Junior at Duke University.  Mr. Moyer was speaking as a testament of the success of the AE program.  That success however requires the necessity of a full time AE teacher.  Mr. Moyer advised that all the benefits of his AE experience are derived from the extended studies, which took place in class.  Mr. Moyer has an amazing amount of knowledge regarding the human body, geography, presidents, etc. all of which he uses in college.  Mr. Moyer stressed the need for a full time AE teacher not one that divides his or her time between schools.   Time and devotion is needed.

Mrs. Barbara Hordis, Feasterville, PA, advised that she has four (4) children going through the academic enrichment program.  Mrs. Hordis noted that the children have stated what they have learned through the program has served them through life.  The process in elementary school of hard wiring the information into the students at an early age helps them succeed all through life.  Mrs. Hordis finds a great difference in the program between having a full time specialist and a half time specialist.  Mrs. Hordis fourth child was not able to have a full time specialist.  The full time specialist was able to provide school wide enrichment.  Mrs. Hordis noted that self-esteem is received and it is invaluable.  Mrs. Hordis recalled Campbell Soup running a promotional campaign and the AE teacher opened the contest to the entire school, and a winner was selected from the school.  Mrs. Hordis advised that this is the kind of thing a full time specialist can do.  Pride, joy, and self-esteem from participating. 

Mrs. Jill Vogel, Langhorne, PA, advised that her son was a student at Lower Southampton until the district lines were changed in 2002.  He now attends 4th grade at Oliver Heckman.  Mrs. Vogel can compare the program at both schools, one, which has a full time AE teacher, and one, which has a part-time teacher.  Several teachers at Lower South recognized his potential and tested him for the program.  However, his standardized test scores were one point below the cut-off.  Mrs. Vogel contacted the counselor and requested testing, however they were denied.  The counselor informed that despite teacher recommendations the cut off was a hard and fast rule.  She did not inform Mrs. Vogel of the right to have her son independently tested.  Mrs. Vogel considered the possibility of sending him to a private school that would challenge his abilities, but it was found to be cost prohibitive.  In the fall of 2002 when her son changed schools and began attending Oliver Heckman a dramatically different experience occurred.  He was identified as a student who needed the stimulation of the AE program.  Because Oliver Heckman had a full time teacher accessible, her son was challenged with AE level work, tested for and eventually accepted into both the AE program and math enrichment.  Mrs. Vogel is convinced that having a full time AE teacher made the difference for her son.  Mrs. Vogel noted that if budget cuts are made the resulting loss of a teachers full time status and the loss of math enrichment would be a severe blow to her son and the program.  By not providing a Blue Ribbon program to all the students who can benefit from it, Neshaminy also runs the risk of chasing away academically gifted students.  That is a result that would hurt the entire school population.  Mrs. Vogel noted that the staff at Neshaminy is under a gag order.  They are not allowed to freely discuss or recommend to parents the option of private testing.  Mrs. Vogel finds this lack of information disturbing, especially for an educational institution.  Mrs. Vogel questioned whether the administration is concerned about inaccurate testing by outside psychologists or are they deliberately trying to keep the numbers of students in the program artificially low.  Mrs. Vogel stated that all options should be presented and discussed with parents.  A list of local psychologists should be made available.  Mrs. Vogel noted that if she knew of her rights earlier her son would not have spent four (4) years being bored and unchallenged.  Instead, he would have been learning and growing and becoming a more confident individual.  Mrs. Vogel has seen the value of a strong AE program and the inadequacies of a weak one. 

Mrs. Kathy Stanford, Langhorne, PA, has four (4) children in Neshaminy School District; three (3) are at Oliver Heckman and one (1) at Neshaminy Middle.  Two of her children have not been identified in the AE program, but thanks to Mrs. Rosen have been involved in the math enrichment.   Teachers stated that her 6th grader should be tested, however the guidance counselors said the scores do not add up and he never was.  Thanks to Mrs. Rosen he was put into the program and for the first time he was challenged.  Presently, he is in the sixth grade and there is no program available and he is now bored.  Mrs. Stanfords second grader is involved in the math enrichment and his self-esteem has improved and he is excited about being in the program and striving to learn more.  Mrs. Stanford noted that the savings of one salary is not worth what will be lost to this program.  Mrs. Stanford commented that this program should be expanded.  Each student should be made to strive for excellence, and right now it seems that we are striving for mediocrity.

Mr. Lee Carrezola, Langhorne, PA, stated that he is disturbed by the AE budget cut, in particular, the math enrichment program.  Mr. Carrezola noted that he has three children in the Neshaminy School District.  Mr. Carrezola noted that when his son was at Heckman he was able to get into the program through the efforts of Mrs. Rosen.  The program has helped him academically, not only in math, but in his other subjects.  Mr. Carrezola hoped that his other children would be able to participate in this program in the future.  The effect will be felt by all the children in the school district.  Mr. Carrezola noted that the students are the future of our society, the future scientists and future mathematicians. 

Mrs. Rhonda Fister, Langhorne, PA, stated that she has two children at Pearl Buck, one of which is in the AE program.  On registration day for kindergarten the Principal and Guidance Counselor stated they could do nothing for her son.  Mrs. Fisters son could read at a fourth or fifth grade level, do multiplication in his head, etc.  The Principal provided names of private schools and Mrs. Fister sent her son to private school for three years and he now attends Neshaminy.  Mrs. Fister heard how good the AE program was and he also needed the social and emotional part.  It is not easy being a gifted child and it is not easy being the parent of a gifted child.  There is a great deal of sensitivity and emotions, a sense of perfectionism.  It is a challenge.  Mrs. Fister pointed out regarding the identification issues that it is difficult.  Mrs. Fister was never told that an independent psychologist could perform the testing, but Mrs. Fister remained very persistent.  Mrs. Fister spoke with Dr. Boccuti regarding the cuts and inclusion.  It is necessary that the teachers are trained.

Mrs. Betsy Carr, Langhorne, PA, has three (3) children in the gifted program and is an educator herself, and is a member of the core organization team of the Neshaminy chapter of PAGE (Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education).  Mrs. Carr is proud that Neshaminy has shown the commitment to actively contribute to the development of so many students.  Mrs. Carr stated that this evening we have heard from parents whose children are who they are today because of the excitement that was planted in them in elementary school.  Mrs. Carr is saddened for the price of one teachers salary a program that has already been deeply diminished by previous cuts will be further impacted.  Over the last several months there have been concerned parents who have done countless hours of research, and in partnership with administrators have sought answers to some fundamental questions about inconsistency of practice, many of which were asked tonight.  Mrs. Carr appreciates the need for fiscal responsibility and she hopes that the district appreciates the parents need for answers.  Mrs. Carr noted that it is the ultimate goal of the PAGE organization to seek these answers and facilitate the districts efforts to provide an answer.  Mrs. Carr noted that talented and giftedness exists without ties to demographics and it is their opinion based on extensive research that it responds were it is given a challenge, regardless of early background.  Mrs. Carr noted that this is the definition of No Child Left Behind.  The unchallenged child can have many of the same issues as the child who struggles, without full support and commitment.  Mrs. Carr noted that the ultimate goal is to be part of the solution.  Every school in Neshaminy School District has the potential for numbers warranting full time enrichment staff.  Mrs. Carr respectfully asked the Board not to act prematurely and please consider no further cuts for the 2003-2004 school year.  Instead, allow parents to be part of the solution, in being part of the discussion.  If at the end of the period of information gathering there is not evidence to suggest inequities in the parental notification, testing and identification process, cuts will be accepted and continue to work as a parent group to offer support to the program as it then exits.  Please remember that you can build a magnificent school building, but unless you have challenged and livened students who are excited about looking beyond simple solutions you have only a building.  Mrs. Carr noted that the students and their accomplishments define Neshaminy.  They are your legacy.  Please allow the district to continue to grow and be known as one of substance.

Mrs. Irion, Levittown, PA, stated she is a board member of the Carl Sandburg music boosters.  Mrs. Irion presented concern on behalf of the students, our board members, our family members, and teachers regarding the proposed personnel cuts which will affect all of the districts middle schools.  Mrs. Irion is aware that the programs per say are not being cut, and that the cut is not staffing, however, the impact will be significant and it is believed that it will affect the programs.  The facts as we know them are based on information received from a variety of sources, including teachers.  Attempts to seek clarity from Mr. Wyatt has resulted in unanswered phone calls.  The timing of this announcement is unfortunate, given that our children recently made their course selections for ninth grade.  The potential exists for combing the instrumental and vocal classes at Sandburg in order to ensure a class size of twenty.  Mrs. Irion suggested attempting to combine French and Spanish, since they are both languages.  The same premise applies to instrumental and vocal classes.  Mrs. Irion questions the issue of parity.  How can the district justify and/or allow other 9th grade high school students at other district middle schools having the competitive advantage and opportunity for separate instrumental and vocal classes when we are told the classes will be combined at Sandburg.  Mrs. Iron noted that percentage wise the number of students is comparable to other middle schools, therefore, given that our student body is smaller we would anticipate a smaller number of music students.  Mrs. Irion noted that Mr. Eccles was in attendance when 56 of the Sandburg students were inducted into the National Junior Honor Society and approximately 80, the top ten percent of the class, were honored at the academic achievement award dinner.  Greater than 50% of these children participate in the music program.  Mrs. Irion noted that the impact in the staffing reduction will directly impact extracurricular activities, such as the large scale musical production and small music groups such as jazz choir, wind ensemble, and hand chimes.  When Carl Sandburg visited the school some forty-three years ago at the schools dedication he was quoted as saying You may become the witness of the finest and brightest era ever known to mankind.  The nations over the globe shall have music, not murder.  It is possible.  Mrs. Irion stated that our childrens musical experiences and opportunities are at stake.  Part of the mission of the music boosters group is to free up teachers from the mundane work in order to support their efforts at what is important, and that is teaching music to our children.  Mrs. Irion implored and challenged that the mission of Neshaminy School District is promoting and developing responsible, creative and productive citizens.  Please consider carefully the impact that this cut will have on our children, their futures, and ultimately our community of responsible, creative and productive citizens.  Mrs. Irion submitted petitions for the Boards review.  How sad is it to say that we are not asking for anything more than consideration to maintain status quo.

Ms. Maloch, Langhorne, PA, advised that she is a Neshaminy graduate and will speak as an advocate for all of the students who are artists in their hearts.  Ms. Maloch was an art major and spent many days in the art center.  Ms. Maloch was also a singer and musician.  Ms. Maloch stated that the mission statement beliefs certainly should support the artists that live among us.  All people have worth, that includes the artists.  People learn in different ways and at different rates.  Success builds self-esteem.  Ms. Maloch noted that any student who has the opportunity to participate in the arts greatly benefit by being part of a group.  Value and diversity strengthens our society, surely part of that is our artists.  Laughter, joy and hope are essential for a quality of life.  Too often we are worried about test scores and not about the things that will truly provide a quality life.  Achievement is realized through challenge.  Trust promotes creative problem solving.  Ms. Maloch stated that quality education is a right in all areas, not just in core curriculum or where it is politically expedient to place your monies.  Excellence in education requires support, sacrifice and involvement from the total community.  Ms. Maloch has had the unique experience to be a student at Neshaminy, be an artist, teach for 25 years in another district, promote music and arts in her own classroom, and recently has been involved as a booster.  The artists can bring joy.

Mrs. Kris Butt, Langhorne, PA, stated that three (3) children have gone through Maple Point and have been highly involved in the music program and have continued at the high school and college levels.  Mrs. Butt advised the Board that the music program helps to give students a higher level of self confidence and self discipline.  These attributes play a large role in academic and social abilities.  Mrs. Butt is convinced beyond a doubt that the level of attention that was given to them by the Maple Point music staff was an important part of this.  Mrs. Butt advised that proposing to cut a position will not afford other students the same quality of academics and co-curricular activities.  Mrs. Butt is amazed at the devotion and time given to students in the music program.  Mrs. Butt finds it hard to believe that using two people to fill one teaching position will offer the same quality and continuity that we currently experience.  If the proposed plan is approved many programs will be lost and degraded, including the IOP courses, the different choirs, the school play, trips, instrumental lessons, and support for district and county groups.  This excellent music program contributed to the National Blue Ribbon status of which we were all so proud.  Cutting the position will diminish the quality of the music program and the children will feel the biggest loss.  The music program at Maple Point offers to each and any student a place to belong.  The music program allows students who are not athletic or academically inclined to succeed.  In other words No Child is Left Behind.  With all the tragedies in schools across the country, it is important that each and every child is given and encouraged to take this opportunity to belong.  Mrs. Butt proposed that the current substitute teaching position become a regular teaching position and continue Neshaminys great musical tradition.  We cannot afford to hurt our children who need a place.  It is worth every penny spent by the school district.  Our school system and the program it provides are not an expense; they are an investment in the future.

Mr. James Sutton, Trevose, PA, stated he has three (3) grandchildren currently attending Neshaminy School District.  The quality is here.  Students who are not taken care of now will fall irretrievably behind.  These priorities should take precedent.  Mr. Sutton noted that school board members work years for nothing and are criticized violently at the polls.  This is reason for being annoyed, but you must accept that with grace.  Mr. Sutton stated to merge together with the winners and welcome them, deal with realities and do not be offended because you have to share your responsibilities with the people who are responsible for your friends being voted out.  If you have any way to borrow money, spend some on the kids so they do not fall farther and farther behind.

Mrs. Doris Rielly, Feasterville, PA, stated that she is a senior citizen but the community is made up of all ages.  Mrs. Rielly agrees that a school does not teach a child anything.  Mrs. Rielly went to a school built in the 1890s and she attended in the l940s.  The teachers there were absolutely outstanding, they taught everything they could possibly teach to go forth in life.  Mrs. Riellys children were afforded that same opportunity and the school did not have anything to do with that.  Mrs. Rielly noted that we do not need to have a new high school.  The school can be renovated.  We need to be fiscally responsible so we can spend our money to educate children and not build buildings.

Mr. Richard Keller, Penndel, PA, has two (2) daughters, one at Maple Point and one at Neshaminy High School.   Mr. Keller appreciates Dr. Boccutis comments.  Mr. Keller noted that his daughters have been heavily involved in the music program.  Mr. Keller has attended concerts, trips to the Phillies, music in the park festivals, Christmas tree lightings and Mr. Keller is curious to know whether the .2 or .4 teacher will be able to participate in the same events.  Mr. Keller stated that the concert for Mr. Nelson brought tears to his eyes.  Former students of the music program returned to dedicate their time to a teacher who was a perfect role model for students.  Music students are better in math and science and are more focused.  These events of the music students are their baseball diamond, gymnasium or gridiron, etc.  Mr. Keller noted that all four of the students who received honors tonight for the Future Problem Solvers are former students of Maple Point music program and the AE program. 

Mr. Joe Robb, Langhorne, PA, Arts Department Chair at the High School, has worked for the district for thirty-two years and his wife, thirty-three years.  Mr. Robb stressed the need for a new high school.  The building is 50 years  old and you will not find any other public building in the Lower Bucks County area that is 50 years old and still serving the same purpose today.  Many Middletown municipal buildings have been built since the high school.  Mr. Robb does not believe that any public library built in the 50s is still in use in Bucks County.  The primary structure for any community is its high school.  If this community decides that they want to continue to put more money into this old high school year after year, you are only postponing for 10-15 years, you will pass on to a generation who never had an opportunity to attend a new high school.  Mr. Robb noted if you are 55-68 years old you had the opportunity to attend a practically new high school, almost anywhere in the state.  Mr. Robb stated that if the community looks at Neshaminy it is time to make the decision.  Mr. Robb drove around Flowers Mill and noted that those people have new houses, new roads, new swimming pools, new tennis courts, etc.  Mr. Robb noted that taxes are tough for some people, but Mr. Robb noted that all the taxpayers will be better off once a new high school is constructed and the district is not spending millions of dollars maintaining the present facility.

Mrs. Terri Donnelly, Feasterville, PA, stated that she is not in favor of a new high school because she is currently paying $4,500 for taxes and she has a three bedroom house with no basement and a one car garage.  She cannot afford to pay any more taxes.

Mr. Butch McClinton, Levittown, PA, stated that he is a 1980 graduate of Neshaminy and currently has four (4) children in Neshaminy.  Mr. McClinton attended to voice his displeasure in the cuts in the music program.  Three (3) of his children participate in the music program.  Mr. McClintons children thrive on music.  Mr. McClinton understands that the district must manage a budget and enrollment is declining.  Mr. McClinton pointed out that more funds are being spent on busing students than on education.  Mr. McClinton questioned the schools, which students are attending.  Mr. McClinton hoped that his tax dollars are not being used to build a new school, and in turn the music program is being cut to help pay for this new school.  Mr. McClinton noted that he will personally pay for anyone to attend the concert at Sandburg or the music boosters program to see how proud parents are of their children.

Mrs. Martha Lindner, Langhorne, PA, stated that she is an attorney and has been involved in Neshaminy School District almost all her adult life.  Mrs. Lindner is concerned about the programs that are being cut and the desire of some of the Board members to vote for a new school regardless of the outcome of the election, which clearly states that the public does not want a new high school.  Mrs. Lindner recommended that the Board immediately withdraw Plancon A & B and give up the new high school.  Further, immediately suspend all payments to the architect firm and save the $36,000 the district is paying each month.  Mrs. Lindner suggested to use the $36,000 each month to make the budget easy this year.  Mrs. Lindner noted that when she was in junior and senior high school music was a very important part of her life at every level, band. singing, orchestra, etc.  She credits that with being able to get in a courtroom and be able to have the confidence to present her case.  Mrs. Lindner encouraged the Board not to cut the music program and not to cut the AE program, and instead, give up the idea of a new school.

Mr. Howard Lindner, Langhorne, PA, stated that about one month ago he stated that if the Board does not listen to the public they will vote them out of office, and that was a good example of this past election.  Mr. Lindner does not feel that some of the Board members are listening.  Mr. Lindner stated that besides the $36,000 that is being paid for the architect, Mr. Lindner was also concerned about the new space created for the lead teachers.  Mr. Lindner stated that he fought against lead teachers when he was an Administrator and teacher at Neshaminy.  These teachers were teaching two courses per day, and doing administrative work at Maple Point when they are not certified administrators.  Mr. Lindner noted it is a waste of money.  How much money could be saved if these teachers were put back into the classroom?  Dr. Boccuti was also provided new office space.  Mr. Lindner noted that he spent 34 years at Neshaminy and 12 years as an Administrator.  Mr. Lindner always said Neshaminy was the best.  Best in music, fine arts.  Mr. Lindner noted that Neshaminy does not need any cuts in programs.  Taxpayers pay enough money so the district can go the extra mile when it comes to the students future.  Mr. Lindner feels that Neshaminy High School does not have any structural damage.  Paying for good teachers is necessary.  Mr. Lindner advised the Board to listen to the people who elected them to represent them and do what they want.

Mrs. Helen Kostar, Langhorne, PA read the following E-mail to Jim Rydeen, former President of ATS&R:

When exactly was your firm hired to begin all the necessary work to start the plans for either renovations or build a new high school for the Neshaminy Langhorne High School?  I know that in the November 13, 2001 school board minutes, it was decided that your firm would not handle any renovations nor new construction mainly because you were not a local firm and the added expense of travel would be added to the costs.  I would appreciate an answer as soon as possible.

The response was as follows:

I was forwarded your e-mails from Jim Rydeen about your questions regarding the Neshaminy High School project.  Thank you for your interest.  Since Jim is not involved in the project, I am pleased to follow-up with you.  We have provided much information to the school board and steering committee regarding renovations, additions, alterations and replacement over many months.  As I understand, all information is available in public school board documents.  Any information I have, the school district has as well.  I think that all inquiries should be directed to the Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent.  This would be the most effective approach for acquiring the information on record that you need.   Thank you for your interest in this project. Sincerely, Paul W. Erickson, AIA/NCARB, President of ATS&R

Mrs. Kostar noted that there is nothing in the public school board documents when ATS&R was signed as the new architectural firm and everyone is part of the public.  The public deserves to know when they were hired.  Mrs. Kostar has been asked and she has asked several times when the change occurred from BASCO to ATS&R and no one has given an answer.  Mrs. Kostar noted that red cards have been sent in and no response has been received.  Mrs. Kostar is asking again.  In addition, Mrs. Kostar resents Mr. Robbs and Board members comments about the people of Flowers Mill.  To separate them as different people of the community is wrong.  There is no difference between Langhorne, Middletown, Lower South, and Flowers Mill.  Everyone is part of the community.

Mrs. Ayala Adler, Paxson Lane, spoke regarding the proposed cuts to the music program and specifically how it would affect Maple Point Middle School.  Mrs. Adler is not only a parent of two children in Neshaminy but she is a social worker at a school in New Jersey.  Mrs. Adler spoke about music and the importance of being connected to a community.  At Maple Point students are part of the music program and thus are able to feel a part of the school.  Through that connection, their parents become connected to the school and connected to the community.  Mrs. Adler does not feel that two part time teachers can have the same impact that one full time teacher can have at Maple Point.  Mrs. Adler has witnessed personally as a social worker what it does for a student to have an intimate connection to a teacher.  Someone who can encourage them, help them when they are down, and really become involved in the students lives.  Mrs. Adler spoke regarding how important it is for children to become involved in activities.  Mrs. Adler stated that she receives Newsweek and the headlines read Americas Best High Schools.  Unfortunately, Neshaminy High School was not there, neither was any high school in Pennsylvania.  One of the things the article talked about was children who become connected to a school succeed.  Mrs. Adler thinks it is time for Neshaminy School District to make a commitment to excellence.  Mrs. Adler noted that people are so concerned about dollars, but the future of this country is our children.  Programs like the AE program and music program, like a superior new high school, that will help our children succeed in this world.  Mrs. Adler has seen a lot of children fall through the cracks.  She believes that a good music program can really help those children.

Mrs. Walther, Langhorne, PA, is a parent of two (2) Neshaminy students and is very distressed about the comments of previous speakers.  Mrs. Walther is pleased to hear a consensus about the importance of the faculty relationships that are built with the students.  Mrs. Walther chose Neshaminy schools and it was a reasoned decision.  Mrs. Walther noted that these are not easy times economically and culturally it is very challenging.  Mrs. Walther implores the Board it maintain the integrity of the programs, foster the relationships between the teachers and students and look at the value of the resource in your students and staff.  Mrs. Walther noted that Mr. Paradises job is one that she would definitely not want to have, but she asked that the district continue to look into where savings could be made.

Mr. Solis Basen, Langhorne, PA, gave his three minutes to upcoming speakers.

Mr. Mel Gindin, Langhorne, PA thanked the Board for giving him the opportunity to address them and what is being said should not be taken personally, but as a stand that you are taking that the public is commenting against.  Mr. Gindin presented the Board with approximately twenty (20) editorials from the newspaper to go into the record and read.  Mr. Gindin commented on a recent article wherein Board President Bostwick claimed that only a small percentage of the voters came out in the election, about l5%.  Mr. Gindin was under the impression that it was much greater than that, possibly 30% which happens to be a very good turnout.  Usually, in the general election if you get 50% you have done well.  Mr. Ginden noted that many of the Board members were elected by 15%.  Mr. Gindin noted that the pro-school members received approximately 1,100 votes and those that were opposed received approximately 8,400 votes.  The ratio is 8-1.  Mr. Gindin questioned where is your support?  Mr. Gindin stated that Mr. Schoenstadts comments that he was defeated due to a poor voter turnout is as lame as the video that was shown to this community.  Mr. Gindin was amazed to find that there are over 8,000 politicians in this community.  Mr. Gindin voted last week and he is not a politician, he is a former Centennial school teacher.  Mr. Gindin feels this community is standing up for what they believe.  Not many people have the skill to determine the condition of the high school.  Everything that he has heard, read, and seen has been based strictly on emotion.  Asking this community to commit to a $100M expense should be based on an independent study and not one that has any economic gain for any party.  Mr. Gindin would like to see an outside engineering firm, one that has no ties to this community or to this Board, to analyze the situation.  At the end they will prioritize what must be done or cannot be done and then leave.  Mr. Gindin noted that if their recommendation is to fix what we have, then you need to look long and hard at this option.  If it is to build new, so be it.  Mr. Ginden stated that if the Board believes there current stance is correct, then they should have no problem with this.  Paying for this should come from the windfall of taxes that are received, over $5M, from Shadybrook and Flowers Mill.  These communities have zero impact on the expenditures of this district, but two communities that are willing to contribute a fair share to the operation of this district.  Mr. Ginden stated that according to the newspaper the district is considering a 34.9 mil increase, which is without the bond issue.  How much more can this community take?  Mr. Gindin noted that for every problem there is a solution.  Simple, complete and wrong.  Mr. Ginden hopes that this is not the direction that the Board is headed. 

Mr. Tom Gallagher, Levittown, PA stated that the people spoke and the Board needs to listen.  Mr. Gallagher stated that if the Board feels the people did not speak in the last election, then place a referendum on the ballot in November.  Do you authorize the Neshaminy School Board to borrow $85M to build a new high school?  Mr. Gallagher noted that if the question is defeated for 155 days you cannot borrow $85M to build a new high, but you can do everything else.  Mr. Gallagher stated that it is time to withdraw Plancon A & B now.  It is time to stop the $36,000 per month being paid to an architect firm over $400,000 per year now.  That money would equate to a very small millage increase, the music and AE program could remain in tack.  The district does not need a new school.

Mr. Thomas Murphy, Trevose, PA, stated that this Board is part of the reason why the school is in bad shape.  This Board diverted funds from maintenance for other purposes.  Mr. Murphy feels that the Board does not have the right to make this decision at this time.  Mr. Murphy would like to see a referendum in November.

Mr. Dan Bontempo, Lower Southampton Township, stated that he lives fifty feet off the railroad tracks, does not have swimming pool, and he does not water his lawn.  Mr. Bontempo cannot afford same and his taxes are $4,400.  Mr. Bontempo noted that Mrs. Bostwick stated that because of the turnout at the election it did not mean anything.  Mr. Bontempo was curious if it had gone the other way, what would Mrs. Bostwicks comments be.

Mrs. Ethel Kessleman, Feasterville, PA, stated that the comments made to the newspaper after the election do not reflect the feelings of the community, but the 2,000 signatures collected do reflect the feelings of this community.  Mrs. Kessleman urged Board members to please listen to the people and do not build a new high school.

Ms. Anne Schmidt, Smith Road, stated she is an 8th grade teacher at Neshaminy and the NFT Vice-President.  Ms. Schmidt thanked the district for the time taken on a regular basis to gather curriculum information from the certified staff.  Ms. Schmidt noted that the staff shares the desire to maintain educational opportunities for students, desire to maintain focus on a curriculum, and the desire for strong curriculum leadership.  Ms. Schmidt asked the Board to remain intent on gathering all the facts relating to curriculum before making any decisions regarding lead teacher positions in the district.  The lead teachers are the districts curriculum leaders, whose primary focus is Neshaminys curriculum.  Their job has been to work with staff on developing new programs and improving curriculum in all areas of study.  Ms. Schmidt noted that any reduction in lead teachers dedicated time will mean a reduction in their focused attention to Neshaminys curriculum.  A reduction of even one period of time equates to a shocking loss.  Ms. Schmidt noted that one less period of time from each lead teacher each day means 80,000 fewer minutes dedicated to Neshaminys curriculum, the equivalent to l,400 fewer hours, equivalent to 200 fewer school days and equivalent of 470 three hour board meetings.  Ms. Schmidt noted that as part of the Neshaminy community we cannot and should not during this time of higher academic standards and requirements reduce minutes, hours, or days spent on time lead teachers dedicate to curriculum.  Nor should the district move away from its strategic plan and the goals stated on page six of the preliminary budget distributed tonight.

Mr. Ralph Clark, Levittown, PA stated that five years ago when he was a school board member and resigned, on that day he asked Board members to remember to do something about the high school.  In the five years since Mr. Clark has left he has come back one time and at that time he asked for something to be done about the high school.  Mr. Clark noted that he ran the election numbers for this past election and compared them to the primary election of 2001.   Mr. Clark advised Ms. Bostwick that the total number of votes cast when she ran two years ago was 1,634 votes.  Total number in Levittown for this current election was 2,311, an increase of 41%.  Mr. Clark advised Dr. Spitz that the total number of votes cast when he ran two years ago was 989, this election 1,441.  In the upper end a 60% increase in the number of voters.  Mr. Clark does not want to hear that the public did not come out to speak.  Mr. Clark asked Mr. Soifer to think back regarding the Tech School and the desire to have a comprehensive Tech school.  Mr. Clark noted that he was on the board and the way it was completed was to renovate 70% of the front end and build a two story addition in the back and the comprehensive Tech school was accomplished.  Mr. Clark wished the Board well in their budget preparations.  Mr. Clark would like the Board to relook at past history and the Tech school renovations.  Mr. Clark stated that this district does not need a new high school, it can be renovated and build new portions in the renovation project, and then be able to keep the programs that are necessary. 

Mr. Phil Schieber, resident of Flowers Mill, stated that the 1,000 names on the petitions came from Middletown, Langhorne, Villages of Flowers Mill, Langhorne Manor, Penndel, Hulmeville, Tarryton, and Levittown that he submitted.  Mr. Schieber noted that with the petitions and the election results the Board should have received a clear message that this community does not want a new high school.  More importantly the community does not want to spend $100M on a new high school.  Mr. Schieber was appalled to read the arrogant statements in the local newspaper from Board President June Bostwick and fellow board members, Yvonne Butville and Steve Schoenstadt, that they fully intend to move forward on the design and construction of a new high school despite the result of the election and petitions, despite the economic impact that it will have on this community, and the negative economic impact it will have on this community because when there are more houses than buyers for houses this area will suffer a major economic deprivation.  Mr. Schieber asked certain Board members to put the voters and taxpayers before your own political agenda.  Mr. Schieber asked for the resignations of Board President, June Bostwick, board members, Yvonne Butville and Steve Schoenstadt.  Mr. Schieber stated that they have no regard for the wishes of this community or the responsibilities of their office.  This community would be far better served with their prompt resignation.

Mr. Alden Thorpe, Levittown, PA, stated that he was also disappointed with many comments of certain Board members.  Mr. Thorpe feels very disheartened about the comments that 15% would not affect your decision and the next time around people will feel their vote was not heard and the Board is not listening.  Mr. Thorpe stated that programs are being cut due to enrollment, but at the same time the Board is considering the construction of new high school.  Mr. Thorpe has a grandchild who attends a school that was built in 1923.  Mr. Thorpe does not understand where the board and administration is coming from, but he hopes that he is not driven out of his home; because there is only so much tax that you can get out of a taxpayer.  Mr. Thorpe is asking the district to be responsible and not put this district into debt.  Mr. Thorpe asked that the Board reconsider and listen to the people and Mr. Thorpe would appreciate a referendum. 

Mr. Steven Sherman, Langhorne, PA, an 8th grade student from Maple Point Middle School stated that his teacher Mrs. Dinkins is one of the best teachers he has ever had.  She is very caring and considerate and would help a student in a heartbeat.  No one would like to see Mrs. Dinkins leave Maple Point Middle School.  Mr. Sherman stated that she teaches her material very well and inspires students to join school plays and choirs.  Without her the school play would not have been possible.  Mr. Sherman noted that students went to Hershey, PA for competition and Maple Point placed first in every single chorus and choir.  Many students, including myself, are majoring in music next year because Mrs. Dinkins makes learning fun.  If Mrs. Dinkins is cut from the music program students will suffer.  Without great teachers we would not be a Blue Ribbon School.  Mr. Sherman noted that there are at least two other Maple Point students in attendance and they want the best education possible and that cannot happen if the music department is cut.

Mr. Myrl Brut, Langhorne, PA, stated that he has received calls and visits from taxpayers and former colleagues stating that he has been critical of Neshaminy School District now that he is retired.  Mr. Brut wanted to have on record tonight that this is absolutely not true.  Mr. Brut believes that Neshaminy is a good school district and it comes from someone who worked at eight different schools over a thirty year period.  Mr. Brut also has two children who attended Neshaminy and are now in jobs and very successful.  However, Mr. Brut is critical about the system in place.  Mr. Brut feels the system keeps the taxpayers in the dark.  Mr. Brut would like to see the following:

         A system developed where taxpayer questions are answered in an orderly way (Mr. Brut left l5 questions last week and he has not seen the answer, even though he e-mailed three (3) times.)

         Development of a user friendly budget.  Not one that only CPAs of Neshaminy School District will be able to read.  (Mr. Brut would like to see a line cost analysis so that the average taxpayer can read same.)

Mr. Brut apologized to Mr. Wilson for a comment made previously regarding when he moved into the Superintendents position that his position was filled underhandedly.  Mr. Brut was mistaken, however, how is it that for twelve years the district had a position and then when someone left it did not have to be filled.

Mrs. Joan Thomas, Langhorne, PA, stated that the reason for the new township building is because the township outgrew the old one and people are still using the old township building.  The school has declining enrollment there should not be as much pressure to build a new high school as there was to have a new township building.  Mrs. Thomas noted that the election brought four new candidates and three of the candidates have very good ideas on how to renovate the high school.  Mrs. Thomas feels that the new members are not being given a chance, since the Board is going to go ahead with the plans.  There was an overwhelming vote against the new high school.  Mrs. Thomas feels that the new school board members should have a chance to have their ideas heard and a chance for them to work.  Mrs. Thomas warned the other members on the Board to be aware of the next election.

Mrs. Debbie McGuckin, spoke on behalf of all of Neshamimys music programs.  Her son is an 8th grade student at Maple Point and is involved extensively in the music program.  Mrs. McGuckin thanked all the teachers who are supportive educators.  Mrs. McGuckins son has worked in community theater and Musical Theater International in New York City and is currently cast in various shows at Bucks County Playhouse.  All of this would not be possible without the current support of Maple Points wonderful program.  The students would suffer.  Mrs. McGuckin would also like her first grade son to have the same access to musical education as now being demonstrated in the school district.  Mrs. McGuckin noted that the music programs are part of the superior education at Neshaminy and should not have to suffer. 

Mr. Jim Harrigan, addressed the music and AE programs and the importance of same in the district.  Mr. Harrigan noted that during concert and play season the teachers expend many extra hours working with students to prepare for these activities which are very beneficial to the students involved. 

Ms. Brynn Keller, student at Neshaminy High School stated that the conditions at the high school are difficult for students.  Ms. Keller stated that when it rains puddles are found throughout the building and attempts are made to catch the rain in buckets.  When temperatures are freezing the building is cold and it makes learning very difficult for students.  Ms. Keller stressed the necessity for a new high school.  Ms. Keller hoped that cuts would not be necessary since much of her success is due to her involvement with AE programs and music.  Ms. Keller stated that she was taught to always respect her elders and she was surprised at the rude remarks and comments that were being made this evening from members of the community.  Ms. Keller noted that most students are in favor of a new high school and say that it is needed.  Ms. Keller noted that financially it may be difficult, however, a good education for students is a necessity in todays world.

Board Comment

Ms. Drioli stated that she believes strongly in the process and believes that every vote counts.  Ms. Drioli is tired of arguing when she goes through the neighborhood and people say my vote does not count.  Ms. Drioli stated that she thinks it does.  Ms. Drioli feels that all of the people of Lower Southampton did not come out and express their opinion, however, those who do not want this school did come out and vote.  Ms. Drioli stated that our forefathers gave us this process and Ms. Drioli stated that she needs to go back on her word to her fellow Board members and she needs to go back on her conscience since she honestly believes without a doubt that the best investment for your money is a new school.  Not necessarily that we cannot fix the old one, but the investment for your long range program is a new school.  Ms. Drioli stated that the people in Lower Southampton did not tell her that.  The voters that came out were the ones that do not want the school, so strongly, that they almost sent to the Board someone who lives in Middletown.  Ms. Drioli stated that she will not vote for a new high school. 

Ms. Drioli commented that the reason the Tech school budget did not pass was because of the promises made to Bristol, Morrisville and Bristol Borough.

Mr. Stack provided the following statement:

The recent election provided a clear message from citizens who want more say in school district affairs, and those who are concerned with escalating property taxes.  The board, and especially the administration, has worked hard to provide a comprehensive solution to the high school at a cost that we believe can be borne by the community.

Many appreciate if we were to put a referendum question on the ballot to spend $100M, which would largely cover a new high school, it will likely be rejected.  After a mandatory six month waiting period, if the board were to place a referendum question requesting to spend $40-50 million for major renovations, it too will be rejected.

Until we see real property tax reform from the state legislature, I am afraid that this community may be unwilling to approve other significant expenditures via a referendum.  This doesnt change the need to properly maintain our facilities; either way a major expenditure is going to be required at the high school, whether it be for a new high school or through renovation.  And, this doesnt change the fact that we need to involve the community even further.

We need specific community guidance.  I propose that we send a survey form to every household in the Neshaminy School District.  The survey would need to outline in detail two or possibly three alternatives that address the high school.  Each alternative would have to clearly state what will be addressed, and the full costs and savings that reasonably can be expected.  The survey should include a postage-paid response card with one option selected.  To ensure the results are tabulated fairly, the board should consider using an independent firm with expertise in mailing and collating survey results.

In researching the high school alternatives, it is essential that we invite those who won both the democratic and republican nominations for school board to participate actively in this process.  I ask that we all work closely with the administration to prepare the survey and accompanying background material.  I recommend that the survey be mailed by June 30th with a deadline for all responses to be received by July 15th.  In this way, any major steps that are contemplated, such as proceeding with the bond issue, will be undertaken only with clear direction from the community.

This board is committed to providing for a quality educational program that is operated as efficiently as possible.  I believe that those expected to join the board in December share this view, and that we all want to do what is best for the Neshaminy community.  Let us work together in a non-partisan fashion to make this possible.  Finally, I would just like to acknowledge Raymond Ostrowski, a resident of Flowers Mill and a regular attendee at school board meetings, for his suggestion on the use of a survey Raymond we do listen!  Thank you.

Mrs. Butville stated the following:

When I was elected to this Board it was to serve the community, the whole community and that is what I feel I have done.  I am on this Board to do what I feel is best after looking at all the information.  To do what is best for the full community and I have been stating since I have looked at all the information and studied everything I have honestly stated what I truly feel will be best for the students and taxpayers in this community.  The high school definitely needs something.  When it was first built it was projected to only last 40 years.  We have gotten an extra 10 years beyond that.  There are so many details and reports.  I prefer to actually listen to the architects, who have studied architectural design and whose job it is and have studied the building and taking their recommendation.  We have had two architectural firms that have gone through and given us reports.  I have looked at both of those.  There are many reasons for why I truly feel that the best solution for this community is the new building now.  One of the reasons is because the people are saying You dont want to waste the $5M that we already put into the present facility.  People say the building looks beautiful, however, the plumbing was never done in that area and there have been plumbing backups.  A lot of things need to be done to the old facility and the district is looking at least at $41M to be done at the present facility if we do renovations, which only gets another 10-15 years out of that facility, at which time you are looking at a new building.  If you do the $85M now that takes you 40-50 years into the future.  Operational costs of a renovated building will be over $1M a year.  With a new facility it will cost $860,000, which is more efficient for a larger size building.  With the renovated building there will still be the 23 roofs and 60 doors, which are costly to maintain.  The new facility will be two stories.  The new building is the best solution now.  In another 10 years maybe 15 you are looking at a new building at that point, which will cost $120M or more.  In the long run you could spend $85M now and get 40 years into the future.  Or, you could spend $41M for renovations and then have to put a new building in 10-15 years and in 20 years time you could be spending well over $150M-$200M for the facility.  The best solution is the new building.  You can also take one minute off of the travel time.  Students receive five minutes between classes.  In the new building you will be able to shorten the time between class periods by one minute, that is over twenty hours actual class time.  You would rather pay for students in class rather then running the halls.

Mr. Soifer made the following statement:

Personally, after looking at all the facts, I am in favor of a new high school.  However, I am no different than anyone else in the community.  You may need a four bedroom house, but that does not mean that you can turn around and spend $800,000 to move into a fancy, 4,000 sq. ft. palace when all you can afford is a 2,000 sq. ft. home.  Listening to the community and knowing the budgetary restraints that we are going to face I cannot in good conscience at this time vote for a new school building and turn around and drive millage up.  I think one of the things we need to do is take a look at all alternatives and I have an idea that you will ultimately find that you still need to build a building.  The problem is we may not be able to afford it today.  I am not going to burden all the taxpayers.  I pay taxes just like all of you, and I pay a pretty significant price.  I cannot in good conscience turn around and burden the taxpayers with a bill that they cannot afford.   However, I will not approve a budget unless money is finally put into it to maintain and start to take care of the maintenance problems and deficiencies that exist in all of the buildings.  I will not turn around and compromise on that value.  That is something that should have been done for a long time and it has been cast aside and it is about time that we start doing it right.

Mr. Schoenstadt made the following statement:

Three years ago I thought the project was necessary and appropriate to build a new high school or renovate completely the existing high school.  Nothing has shown me that necessity has changed.  What is very interesting is a point that Mike brought out.  If the Board in its infinite wisdom elects not to carry through on the project this Board is going to have to make a commitment to spend 5-10 mils which is about $2M in addition to the monies approved, (if you are looking at a 34 mil budget we should be looking at 44 mils) in a capital reserve maintenance account to keep from allowing the buildings to deteriorate the way the past five boards and one and one-half administrations has.  Because they took money from the regular budget to keep all the programs going, music, AE, art, etc. the buildings suffered.  Where do you think the money came from to keep all the curriculum and instruction programs going without change?  It came from maintenance budgets.  Every Board did it.  This Board is not going to get my vote for the current budget unless there is at least 7-10 mils in addition to what is necessary to operate the district.  There will not be the money to renovate unless you float a bond.  Float a bond you end up spending $40-$50M and 10 years from now you still will need to build a new high school.  Previous Boards did what they could with the monies that were available.  State funding dropped from 54% of the current expenditures to less then 16% from 1984 to today.  The state is not paying for their fair share of todays budget.  Has anyone gone to the state and told them what you think?  Have you spent as much time and effort complaining to the state?  You have not gotten a single result, and this Board and the previous Boards have been forced to do the same thing over and over to keep curriculum and instruction at the highest levels possible and something had to suffer.  Mr. Clarks Board had the same problems.  It is not unique and unusual.  It is nice to see that the community is getting involved.  Why are you not getting involved at the state level where the decisions are made in how to fund education?  That is where the problem is.

Mr. Eccles made the following statement:

One week ago today the voting and taxpaying Neshaminy community took to the polls in what some have called the most controversial and decisive local election in recent memory.  I was overwhelmingly reelected to the School Board and the voters saw fit to elect my colleagues Rich Webb and Jason Bowman who will be sworn in to take office in December.  Some people have even gone so far as to call the school board election results a referendum on the high school project or at the very least a public mandate.  I am appalled that we have Board members that still want to build a high school.  Mr. Soifer made a great comment; I would like to have a four bedroom house but I cannot afford same, so I live with what I have.  I want to remodel a business, I cannot do it all, and I need to do a little.  I am appalled that we still have folks that want to build a new high school.  The people have spoken, the voters have come out and they have said no.  There are Board members sitting on the Board now that will not be here in December, because of the voters.  The folks have spoken.  The Board represents you, we do what you tell us to do, or you vote us out.  That is how it is done.  That is a democracy.  I often wonder with what has been in the paper lately what have we taught our children.  The voters have spoken, yet we have ignored them.  What are we teaching them.  Please, I appreciate the two Board members tonight stepping up and saying no to a new high school I would ask this Board again, we are also now searching for different options.  It is over, you have spoken, you have won.  Stop the madness, pull back the application from the state, and lets regroup and get true factual data and lets get something going with the schools that we can all afford.  Our kids are our future, but so is everyone else in this community.

Dr. Spitz made the following statement:

I will preface my remarks by commenting on the music and AE programs.  I have three children who have gone through both of those programs, and one child is still going through.  I would never support cuts in either of those programs.  There is misinformation that is circulating regarding these programs.  We are not proposing to cut either program.  All students who are in the music program and AE programs will continue to receive the same program that they have in the past.  The only changes, as I understand from Dr. Boccuti, we are proposing to make is very small reductions in staff, without affecting the program.  There are teachers this past year in the AE program who were teaching one or two classes a day, for the entire week.  Many people are complaining, and rightfully so, about taxes, the high cost of running programs in this district.  I think that we all agree that we have an excellent academic program and I do not think that anyone on the Board wants to cut the music program or the AE program, but we need to be fiscally responsible.  Again, in the days ahead I will again dialogue with Dr. Boccuti and Dr. Muenker regarding the music and AE program to ensure that what the Administration is proposing to do does not affect the delivery of services to the students.

I have spent many hours looking very carefully and with an open mind about the best way to address the considerable needs of the current building.  I do not think anyone disagrees with the off stated view that something needs to be done.  As most of you know I have come out strongly in support of the proposal to build a new high school to accommodate grades 9-12, to close a middle school, and to use the savings to pay for a significant portion of the cost of a new building.  I continue to hold the view that this approach is both educationally and financially sound.  I also have been consistent in the belief that the residents of the community need to be given the opportunity to express their views and the Board needs to pay heed to those views.  I have believed all along that the primary election was the principal way that those views would be expressed.  While those who cared enough to come out and vote have spoken, and it is very clear that the voters do not want us to simply continue on the current path without further input.  At the same time I never have and do not currently support the idea of an electoral debt referendum.  The legal wording of such a referendum would be extremely restrictive.  Information about moving the 9th grade to the high school, closing a middle school, phasing in the millage costs, describing the net costs to the taxpayer, etc. could not be included.  What would be permitted is a simple yes or no on whether the school district should undertake a bond issue to finance the construction of a new high school.  We all know that the likely vote would be no.  Then we would wait six months, come back, ask another yes or no question on whether to put up a bond issue for renovations, and the vote again would likely be no.  What we need is not more statements about what not to do, but rather more guidance on what we should do to address the obvious problems that exist at the high school. 

In that spirit I call upon Jason Bowman, Richie Webb, Sue Barrett, and Rick Eccles, the election winners to speak to the Board and public upon your views on what to do at the high school.  Simply supporting the call for a referendum and arguing against a new school is no longer sufficient.  I second Mr. Stacks suggestion that we call on these individuals to provide input to help us put together an impartial survey that would be mailed to all residents and that would adequately explain various options that could be pursued to address the issues at the high school.  I also agree that an independent third party should be hired to tabulate and present the results.  I am confident that such an approach will allow a broad cross section of the community to participate in this important decision.  We need an affirmative answer from the public about what they want to do at the high school.  Incoming Board members let us know your views.  I will listen honestly and will welcome your input on the wording of a survey that will allow all who are affected to have a real voice in how the high school issue is resolved. 

Mrs. Bostwick made the following statement:

I would like to welcome those who won in the election.  I am pleased to see that you were interested enough to get involved to the most demanding, part-time, unpaid job you will ever have.  I would like to invite you to attend the committee meetings.  They are public.  The times are published along with the two monthly Board meetings.  The learning curve you face will seem like Mt. Everest.  But careful listening and asking useful questions will help reduce that pitch.  I also suggest that your visit the PSBA site.  You are welcome to bring your ideas, plans or reasonable suggestions to the public forum and share them during public comment.  You are now committed to doing the best job you can for the children of this district and that will require your full participation in every process.

Mrs. Bostwick called for a recess of the meeting at l0:30 p.m.

Mrs. Bostwick reconvened the meeting at 10:45 p.m.

Superintendents Report

Mr. Wilson welcomed the districts new Solicitor, Thomas J. Profy, III, Esquire, from the law firm of Begley, Carlin and Mandio.  Mr. Profy brings to the district a wealth of experience as being a school district solicitor.

Mr. Wilson advised Board members that the district was involved in a lawsuit and the Plaintiffs were asking for $250,000 and the settlement came in at $17,500.  Mr. Wilson asked for Board consensus that the settlement documents could be executed when the documents arrived. 

There was Board consensus to execute said settlement documents.

Approval of Minutes

Upon motion of Dr. Spitz and seconded by Mrs. Butville the Board approved the minutes of the April 22, 2003 and May 13, 2002 Public Meetings by a vote of eight to zero.  Mrs. Jowett was not present.

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

         April 30, 2003 Treasurers Report, subject to audit

         Bills for payment Check Register April 2003

         Two Escrow Funds and Four Investment Funds

         Budget Transfer Report 03-7 (Working Copy)

         Personal and per capita tax exonerations for April 2003 totaling 27 exonerations

Mr. Stack moved the April 2003 Treasurers Report be approved, subject to audit, the April 2003 bills for payment, Budget Transfer Report 03-7 (Working Copy), and personal and per capita tax exonerations be approved.  Mr. Soifer seconded the motion.

The Board approved the Treasurers Report, subject to audit, bills for payment, Budget Transfer Report 03-7 (Working Copy) and exonerations of personal and per capita tax with eight ayes and zero nays.  Mrs. Jowett was not present.

Approval of Bids

Mr. Paradise presented the following bids for approval:

Bid No. 04-08 Science Supplies

Bid Amount:  $13,557.03

The bid is for various supplies for the instruction of science curricula district-wide for the 2003/2004 school year.

Bid No. 04-09 Classroom & Art Aids

Bid Amount:  $36,468.14

The bid is for classroom and art supplies for the 2003/2004 school year which include: paints, drawing paper, brushes, markers, yarn, cloth, and other arts and crafts materials for classroom use.

Mrs. Butville moved the two bids be approved and Ms. Drioli seconded the motion.

The Board approved the two bids with eight ayes and zero nays.  Mrs. Jowett was not present.

Certified and Support Personnel Actions

Mr. Wilson presented the following for approval:

         Elections Certified Personnel

         Resignations and Leaves of Absence Certified Personnel

         Elections Support Personnel

         Resignations and Leaves of Absence Support Personnel

Mr. Wilson noted that a few Long Term Substitute positions need to be started due to various leaves of absence.  The majority of the report are resignations and leaves of Certified Personnel.  These are people who have been Long Term Substitutes, that at the end of the year if the district does not have a place for them the assignment is completed.  Some of these personnel are funded under Federal Programs and some are funded under IDEA, so their assignments are completed.  Mr. Wilson noted that some will be back, unfortunately, some will not be back.

Mr. Wilson recommended the approval of the personnel report for certified and support personnel. 

Mrs. Butville moved the personnel actions be approved.  Mr. Soifer seconded the motion.

The Board approved the personnel actions with eight ayes and zero nays.  Mrs. Jowett was not present.

Motion:  Appointment of Treasurer

Dr. Spitz presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, each year during the month of May the Board must elect a Treasurer to serve for one year beginning July l, 2003, and ending June 30, 2004.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that Joseph V. Paradise, Business Administrator, be appointed Treasurer of the Neshaminy Board of School Directors for the above term, beginning July l, 2003, with no additional compensation.

Mr. Stack seconded the motion.  The Board approved the motion with eight ayes and zero nays.  Mrs. Jowett was not present.

Motion:  Lower Bucks County School Authority

Mr. Soifer presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, the Lower Bucks County School Authority, on May 13, 2003 adopted a resolution that authorizes and directs the conveyance of all of the Authoritys projects and public school property to the School District, termination of the existence of the Authority and the transfer and delivery of all administrative funds, minute books, files, papers, records and all other property and assets of the Authority to the School District; and

WHEREAS, the Authority has requested the President of the Board of School Directors to execute the Certificate of Request to Terminate Authority; and

WHEREAS, the Certificate of Request to Terminate Authority will be filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of School Directors authorize the filing of the Certificate of Request to Terminate Authority, and authorize and direct the President and Secretary to execute such Certificate on behalf of the School District.

Mr. Schoenstadt seconded the motion.  The Board approved the motion with eight ayes and zero nays.  Mrs. Jowett was not present.

Motion:  Approval of the 2003-2004 Preliminary Budget

Mr. Stack presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, the Board of School Directors has received and reviewed a working draft budget for the 2003-2004 fiscal year; and

WHEREAS, as set forth in Section 687 of the Pennsylvania Public School Code, this document shall be made available for public inspection 20 days prior to final adoption.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOVLED, that the preliminary budget as of May 27, 2003, be made available to the public for review in preparation of the final budget, with additional changes, to be adopted during the month of June 2003.

Ms. Drioli seconded the motion. 

Dr. Spitz requested Mr. Paradise to review the differences between the draft budget that was received last month and this document.  Mr. Paradise responded that on April 9, 2003, the Board received a budget, which reflected basically the carry over of data from the prior year and the cost of what it would be to operate the school district in the current year based on that data.  During the period of time from April 9th through May 27th the Board was involved through Administrative direction to reduce the expenditures of the budget a total of $2,150,000 and, specifically, since the Work Session the budget has been reduced $141,000 and that equates to 8/10ths of a mil.  Primarily those items are the AE reductions that were discussed earlier this evening, a NEST position and a teacher on special assignment. 

Mr. Paradise advised Board members that on page 56 they could find a summary of the expenditures by program and that the total budget you are being asked to approve as a Preliminary Budget is $131,664,000 for an increase of $8,099,000 or a 6.6% increase.

Mr. Paradise noted that additional millage of 34.1 is required. 

Mr. Soifer inquired whether the money for capital improvements was included in this budget.  Mr. Paradise directed Board members to page 57 & 58, which is the Summary of the Plan, which has been in place for the last year.  The new capital improvement projects are listed on page 57 which need to begin this summer.  On page 58 an approximate Revenue and Expenditures list is included and the Board should note the $2,218,000 swing loan, which the Board approved in November 2002.  Mr. Paradise noted that the parameters of the swing loan were that the Board was going to at some point adopt a bond issue.  The capital needs were present last year, the capital needs are present this year, the swing loan was adopted for $2.2M and pay it back at a maximum of two years from last November.  In addition, $2.8M in new capital improvements which must be dealt with this coming year starting this summer.  Mr. Paradise advised that the district has $5.2M worth of capital improvements that are basically unfunded at this point.

Mr. Schoenstadt stated that if you make the assumption that the district is not receiving any bond monies, this becomes an unbalanced budget and, as such, it needs to be funded correctly.  The Board will need to resolve the question whether it will obtain bond money at some time in the very near future, or will this budget be adjusted to the point were it pays the unfunded obligations that have already been committed.

Mr. Paradise advised that another option is to budget for a principal and interest payment on that debt.  The district would need to borrow an additional $2.8M to add to that original loan and to budget for principal and interest payment. 

Dr. Spitz stated that the $2.2M swing loan that was approved last November, the Board does not have in the current budget any funds to start repayment on that loan.  Mr. Paradise noted that there are no principal payments required, however, there is capitalized interest. 

Mr. Paradise advised the Board that the district has $2.5M-$3M of capital needs that are required every year.

Ms. Drioli inquired whether the new housing in Lower Southampton Township and Middletown Township were considered in this budget.  Mr. Paradise advised that the budget already reflects additional assessments equating to $1.1M as additional revenues to the school district.  Mr. Paradise noted that it is the reason why the value of the mil in Neshaminy increased and it is all incorporated into the current document.

Mr. Wilson requested Board members to consider the following for the June 3, 2003 meeting:

         Short term loan for Blue Cross prepayment

         Computer labs for elementary schools

         Capital improvement funds

Mr. Wilson noted that Board members should review the Resolution being sent to Governor Rendell by other school districts.  If this Board would also like to sign a similar Resolution the district could prepare same for signature at the June 3, 2003 meeting.

Dr. Spitz requested that the Resolution be reviewed by the Solicitor to be tailored for Neshaminys needs.

There was board consensus to prepare said Resolution.

The Board approved the motion with seven ayes and one nay (Mr. Soifer).  Mrs. Jowett was not present.

Federal Programs

Mr. Wilson noted that 5 PSSA grants were received basically for program enhancement at various schools and the places the districts grant total to $1,661,128. 

Other Board Business

The Bucks County Tech School budget vote will be taken on Monday, June 2, 2003 at 7:00 p.m.

Correspondence

The Board Secretary advised that there was no correspondence.

Public Comment

Mr. Howard Lindner, Langhorne, PA, stated that the election literature spoke of referendum and a contract to the people.  Promise to the people that the School Board members who won, Bowman, Eccles, and Webb, that anything they would do in the future they would push for a binding referendum.  Mr. Lindner noted that because of that he does not feel that a survey is the way to go.  Mr. Lindner stated that the last election was your survey.  A survey costs more money and surveys are not accurate.  Mr. Lindner stated that the only true way is when a person votes, closes the curtain, no cheating, no possibility of fraud.  If the people want a new high school they will come out, if they do not want a new high school they will come out.   Mr. Lindner stated the people have spoken.  Mr. Lindner is disappointed in Dr. Spitz and Mr. Stack.  Mr. Lindner advised that common sense should be used.  The three School Board members, Bowman, Eccles and Webb made a contract to the people of this community and they will not back out because the people voted for them based on that contract which is a binding referendum.

Mr. Schoenstadt left the meeting at 11:15 p.m.

Mr. Alden Thorpe, Middletown Township, mentioned that 82% of taxes go to school taxes and that is a lot of money.  Mr. Thorpe is concerned that the district is considering taking a loan to pay off interest on a loan that we already have.  Mr. Thorpe wished there was more trust.  Mr. Thorpe was not aware that the state was not providing the same funding.  Mr. Thorpe noted that there must be some way that the district can communicate better with the public.  Mr. Thorpe has no problem going to Harrisburg. 

Mrs. Joan Thomas, Langhorne, PA, stated she is not in favor of a survey because it is more money being spent on printing and postage.  Money has not been put into the budget for maintenance.  Mrs. Thomas does not see what the big deal is waiting another 6-7 months of doing nothing until our new School Board is on board.  Mrs. Thomas noted that new people with new ideas have been elected.  Mrs. Thomas would love to contact her Senators and Congressman, but I do not have the facts to go to them to voice my concern that we are not getting the money back that we should be getting.

Mrs. Kathy Stanford, Langhorne, PA, commented that Dr. Spitz stated that the AE program is not being cut, and he is correct.  But, at Heckman there is a full time teacher who has made that much more than the definition.  That teacher has included students who are not identified.  Students who are close, but not just there.  That teacher goes into other classrooms and provides presentations and that reaches all the students in the school.  The students are aware of the program and they also want to strive to be in the program.  Mrs. Stanford noted that the teacher is accessible to the parents, students, and teachers.  Mrs. Stanford realizes that this all costs money.  Mrs. Stanford understands budgeting.  Mrs. Stanford feels that every school should have a full time AE teacher.  Mrs. Stanford feels that the cuts in the music program are being made at schools where the numbers are lower.  Students are not being identified.  Mrs. Stanford would like the district to make sure that all students are being identified. 

Mr. Butch McClinton, Levittown, PA, stated that his son wrote Mr. Wilson a letter regarding rugby and track.  Mr. McClinton noted that the students and teachers involved in extra-curricular and music go the extra mile.  Mr. McClinton thinks that the School Board should go the extra mile and just remain status quo. 

Mrs. Helene Kostar, Langhorne, PA, spoke regarding politics, administrators and managers. Mrs. Kostar would like the Board to adopt a policy that no Administrator, no manager within the school district should once they are hired be able to be involved in politics. Mrs. Kostar feels that it is a disgrace that anyone who has a position within the school district should be out on Election Day working for a School Board member.  In particular, Mrs. Kostar was referring to the Food Service Manager in Lower Southampton who not only is an employee of Neshaminy School District, but is also on the Board of Supervisors and is out there campaigning for School Board members.  Mrs. Kostar feels that it is bad taste for children and it is bad taste as a representative of the school district.  Mrs. Kostar would like that if it is not done this year, the new school board should adopt this policy.  Politics do not belong in the school district.

Mrs. Martha Lindner, Langhorne, PA, thanked Ms. Drioli and Mr. Soifer for making a very hard decision to come out against a new school.  Mrs. Lindner noted that Dr. Spitz and Mr. Stack are not quite there, but they are trying, but the suggestion of a survey will not work.  Mrs. Lindner noted that there have been 22 informational meetings and the same video appeared on the cable many, many times.  Mrs. Lindner noted that the election was the survey.  The election spoke the thoughts of the people.  The people came out and voted.  Mrs. Lindner asked the Board to rethink the position.

Mr. Thomas Fister, Middletown Township, stated that after research he believes that 15% of the students of a school district should qualify as above average, gifted students, according to the standards that we currently use.  Mr. Fister cannot believe that only two students qualify for the AE program in a grade school.  Mr. Fister feels that the identification of students is not being done properly.  Mr. Fister also feels that the district is not meeting the state standards.  AE is not offered on the kindergarten, first grade and high school levels.  Mr. Fister understands that what is offered at the high school does not qualify as an AE program under the current regulations.  Mr. Fister would like to expand beyond AE and add the ME program, Odysseus of the Mind, etc.  Mr. Fister noted that the more students in these programs will lead to higher test scores overall and that will lead to more money for the school district.

Mr. Kevin Reardon, Langhorne, PA, provided a letter to be placed on the record.  Mr. Reardon stated that the AE program needs to be designed to truly enrich the students.  Some of the cuts being proposed will diminish that goal.  Mr. Reardon stated that when a half time teacher is proposed the ability of that teacher to work with other teachers in the building to identify gifted students will be diminished.  Mr. Reardon noted that it is a requirement under PA state law that first grade and kindergarten receive AE services.  Mr. Reardon noted that the letter provides instances where Neshaminy is not consistent with what is being required under PA state law.  The numbers used to project the budget are artificially low because of non-compliance to the law.  The time lines for testing and identifying students are not being followed.  Students identified in January have still not been tested and they are not being counted into next years projections.  Teacher input needs to override test scores.  The teacher should act as a safety net for students who have tested poorly for whatever reason, but based on their work in the classroom they should be placed in the AE program. 

Mr. Joe Robb, stated that he was accused in the lobby of being paid to come here, but as you all know I have been dedicated to the school district for quite a few years, however I do not feel that this is my home community on some occasions.  Mr. Robb noted in other areas of the country everything is done by referendum.  In this area, however, a referendum would be difficult.  This community needs to look and see what they want 10-15 years down the road.  Mr. Robb feels that the right decision is to move ahead with the school.  In working in the building every day I see the time, energy and inefficiencies that he deals with on a daily basis.   Teachers cannot do their job efficiently, every day.  The time spent travelling from area to area in the building is wasted time.

Board Comment

Ms. Drioli stated that she does want a new high school, however, she will not vote for it because she does believe in the democratic process and that a vote counts.

Adjournment

Mr. Stack moved the meeting be adjourned and Dr. Spitz seconded the motion.  The Board unanimously approved the motion.  Mrs. Bostwick adjourned the meeting at 11:40 p.m.

Respectively submitted,

Anita E. Walls
Board Secretary                                                                       

 
 

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