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PUBLIC BOARD MEETING MINUTES (WORK SESSION)
NESHAMINY BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS

February 11, 2003

The Neshaminy Board of School Directors met in public session on February 11, 2003 in the Auditorium of Maple Point Middle School. 
 
The following persons were in attendance:

BOARD MEMBERS:

ADMINISTRATORS:

Mrs. June Bostwick, President
Mrs. Kimberly Jowett, Vice President

Mr. P. Howard Wilson
Dr. Raymond Boccuti

 Mrs. Yvonne Butville

Mr. Richard Marotto

Ms. Carol Drioli
Mr. Richard Eccles

Mr. Joseph V. Paradise
Mr. Bruce Wyatt

Mr. Steven Schoenstadt
Mr. Michael Soifer 
Dr. William Spitz
Mr. Edward Stack

 SOLICITOR:
Kristina S. Wiercinski, Esquire

SECRETARY:
Mrs. Anita E. Walls

OTHERS:  Approximately 15 persons from the Public, staff and press

l.      Call to Order

Mrs. Bostwick called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m.

2.        Pledge of Allegiance

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

3.        Announcements

No announcements.  

4.        Public Comment

Mrs. Patti Leipziger was present on behalf of the Samuel Everitt Elementary School community and their principal, Mrs. Dawn Kelly.  The redistricting of our students and the retirement of Dr. Abraham are just a few examples of the many transitions Samuel Everitt Elementary has gone through this past year.  Mrs. Kelly has brought continuity to students, staff and parents.  Mrs. Leipziger stated that Mrs. Kelly has done a great deal to increase the spirit of the school.  As a member of the community Mrs. Kelly is able to be the eyes and ears of the school no matter what time of the day or night.  As a mother and former teacher, Mrs. Kelly has a broad range of skills in dealing with students and parents.  Mrs. Leipziger noted that Mrs. Kelly has outstanding leadership qualities and Mrs. Kelly is able to energize the students and staff.  Mrs. Leipziger requested that Mrs. Kelly is given every consideration for a permanent principalship at Samuel Everitt Elementary School.

Mrs. Helen Kostar thanked Superintendent Wilson and Mr. Paradise for closing Pearl Buck Elementary School due to the death of Mr. Shanken.  Mrs. Kostar stated that Mr. Shanken was her fifth grade teacher at Walter Miller Elementary School, and he had a major impact in her life not only as teacher but as a personal friend.  Mrs. Kostar stated that Mr. Shanken deserved that respect.  Mr. Shanken was always there as a teacher for all students.  Mrs. Kostar stated that due to Mr. Shanken that is why she wished to become a teacher.  Mr. Shanken taught students to appreciate books and encouraged them to read.  Mrs. Kostar stated that Mr. Shanken not only had this type of impact on herself, but the entire Neshaminy School District.  Mrs. Kostar wished that this school district would continue to have this type of influence on the children and the community.

Mrs. Bostwick noted that a copy of a letter was received from the Board of Elections of Bucks County stating that they are without power to place a nonbinding advisory question on the ballot.  Mrs. Bostwick stated that the nonbinding referendum is a non-issue and it will no longer be discussed at the meetings.  Mrs. Bostwick noted that there is another type of referendum, and when that information is received the ramifications of that type of referendum will be reviewed. 

Ms. Drioli concurred with that assessment, and noted that since Middletown residents are seeking the referendum, why was a referendum not placed on the ballot when the new Middletown Township building was constructed, and while there is still a chance maybe they would like to approach the County to place the Courthouse on a referendum as well.

Mrs. Butville noted that Neshaminy School District is not taking the same approach; the district is holding many informational meetings to get the word out to the public and receive their input.

Mr. Eccles stated that the board minutes from January 14, 2003, read as follows: �Mr. Eccles again asked the Board to consider a referendum on this project.  Mrs. Bostwick asked the Solicitor, Robert R. Fleck, Esq. to provide the law regarding referendums.  Mr. Fleck recalled that at the Board meeting on December 2, 2002, there was Board consensus for the Solicitor to begin preliminary review of the law regarding referendums.�  Mr. Eccles noted that the minutes do not state that the Board asked for a nonbinding referendum, the minutes state a referendum.  Mr. Eccles questioned why taxpayer�s money was spent on something the board knew they could not do, and that the research was not done on a referendum.  The Board did not specifically state binding.

Ms. Wiercinski noted that the opinion researched all types of referendums.  Mr. Eccles stated that he was not privy to that information since he did not see the entire opinion. 

Mr. Eccles commented that a referendum can be done under the electoral debt act.  Mrs. Bostwick requested Mr. Eccles to supply the ramifications of that particular type of referendum and its impact on the district.  Mr. Eccles stated that his job as a School Board member is not to do law research.  Mr. Eccles asked that the Solicitor please research the Electoral Debt Act. 

Ms. Wiercinski noted that it was researched and was available in the opinion, and the downside of having an electoral debt referendum was noted.

Mr. Wilson commented that the district knows that an electoral debt question can be placed on a ballot.  Mr. Eccles is questioning what the impact of an electoral debt referendum would mean to the district.  Mr. Eccles impression is that the Board is not open to a referendum at all, and he would like to hear from the Board that they are still open to a referendum.

Mrs. Bostwick noted that she would like to know what happens to the district if such an electoral debt fails. 

Dr. Spitz stated that he is not in favor of an electoral debt referendum because if such a referendum were put on the ballot and it fails; the district could not issue debt for 155 days.  The district would need to again put the question on the ballot in November with very precise restrictions on the wording.  The district may never get passed that issue.  Once the district begins this process it may never get approved.  Dr. Spitz noted that the high school is in such poor condition, and the timing right now is so good with interest rates and declining enrollments, the time to move is now.  Dr. Spitz is looking forward to the public meetings and he will listen to public input and new ideas.  Dr. Spitz noted that the public has raised legitimate questions.  However, Dr. Spitz feels that an electoral debt referendum is not the way to proceed due to the bind that the district will be in if the referendum fails.

Mr. Schoenstadt noted that he does not have a closed mind to the idea, however, if the referendum should fail, the district would not be able to do the borrowing that occurs during the period when the tax bills are issued and when the tax bills are collected.  The district would not be able to operate.

Ms. Wiercinski noted that when the term debt is used it pertains to all leases, such as leases for technology, buses, etc.  This does not just refer to bonds or tax anticipation loans. 

Mr. Stack noted that the district has a swing loan of $2.3M, which needs to be attached to debt, and if that cannot occur, the district will need to go to the general fund in the amount of $2.3M and raise taxes.  The districts plan was to proceed with a larger bond issue and that would not occur if a referendum failed.

5.        Presentation No Child Left Behind Report

Mr. Marotto provided a power point presentation for board members regarding a law which was passed January 8, 200l called the No Child Left Behind Act.  This Act will have a tremendous impact, not only on Neshaminy School District, but also on all districts throughout the state.

The following points were presented:

          Largest federal program providing educational funding

          An act which shapes policy and practice in classrooms

          Provides funding for disadvantaged student

          Enforced standards, notices to public and accountability

          Content standards outlining what a student should know

          Teacher qualifications

          Participation in the National Assessment of Educational Progress

          Notice to parents of right to request information on staff

          Reporting testing results to public

          Reports to public

          Report cards on each school and district

          Labeling of Individual Schools

          Adequate yearly progress

          Sanctions Against Schools

          Financial

          Organizational

          Staff Related

A complete copy of the power point presentation is available in the Superintendents office.

Presentation Neshaminy High School

Mr. Wilson advised that this is the first of two videos that the district will provide to the community regarding the condition of the high school.  The presentation will also air on the Neshaminy channel, and will be shown at the presentations scheduled for each of the schools and senior centers.  Mr. Wilson also noted that a mailing would be going out to 30,000 homes with frequently asked questions. 

Mr. Stack thanked the Administration for focusing on the needs of the students.  Ms. Drioli noted that the value of your home is directly involved. 

6.        Item for Discussion

a)       Tawanka Playground Equipment

Mr. Paradise advised that the insurance carrier is concerned regarding the playground equipment at Tawanka and is recommending that it be removed because it is no longer an elementary school and there is an unnecessary insurance risk. 

Mrs. Butville noted that the school may no longer be used as an elementary school, however it is still part of the community and community children still use the facility.  Mrs. Butville inquired how many suits currently exist against Neshaminy School District due to playground equipment.  Mr. Minotti stated that there are three (3) this year.  

Mr. Paradise quoted that The removal of the playground equipment which is no longer needed will help reduce possible liability claims resulting from neighborhood children using the equipment after hours and on weekends and will help save the school district the cost to maintain the playground equipment.

Mr. Schoenstadt stated that the commitment was made to the community when the Tawanka facility was closed that the playground would be open for community use.  Whatever the cost may be, it will not be more significant then the commitment made to the community.

Mr. Paradise stated that the insurance carrier is noting that if there is one less elementary school within the district, the district could have one less set of playground equipment. 

Mr. Soifer noted that the playground is for community use and unless playground equipment is removed from other facilities, the Tawanka playground should remain.

Mrs. Butville noted that the PTO at Albert Schweitzer Elementary School have purchased playground equipment for students, and is having difficulty getting it installed due to the insurance carrier. 

Dr. Spitz inquired whether the insurance company is proposing to increase the liability rates, and Mr. Paradise responded that was not the case.  Mr. Paradise further noted that if the district has the equipment in place, the district must maintain the equipment.

Mr. Paradise noted that the proper procedures were not followed at the Schweitzer Elementary School.  The approvals were not secured and as a result the equipment which was purchased was not reviewed by the insurance carrier.  Mr. Paradise noted that Mr. Iampietro will have a meeting with the PTO and the insurance company to minimize the problem and get the playground equipment installed.

A representative from the PTO stated that in September, 2002 the playground company advised that they could offer a fund matching grant which would enable the purchase of a nice playground unit, however, the grant would expire in November, 2002.  The PTO purchased the equipment for approximately $12,000 and the matching grant was for approximately $8,500, because they do not cover shipping costs.  Installation is not included in these figures.  The unit, which was purchased, is a far better unit that is presently at the school.  The funds were raised for this playground unit over two years. 

Mr. Soifer questioned why this has not had a resolution with the insurance company in this amount of time. 

Mr. Wilson stated that a meeting needs to take place with the insurance carrier to get the issues resolved and see what objections they may have to any of the equipment which was purchased.

7.        Items for Approval

a)       Overnight Trips

i)                    Neshaminy High School State Leadership Conference and Competition Champion, PA April 6 9, 2003.

Mr. Wyatt advised that 35 students plan on attending the conference at no cost to the district.  Neshaminys outstanding business students have the opportunity to participate at this conference and competition.

There was board consensus for the students to attend.

b)       Board Policies

Mrs. Butville advised that the entire policy book is under review.  Certain policies are being updated to reflect current terminology; for example, junior highs are now middle schools.  Mrs. Butville noted that the Pennsylvania School Board Code supersedes all policies.  If the policy is not in agreement with the Code, the district must amend same.  Mrs. Butville stated that the following policies have undergone changes:

          Selection and Election of Administrative Personnel

          Employee Personnel Records

          Public Records

          School Entrance Age

          Discipline

Mr. Eccles inquired what changes were made to the Employee Personnel Records and Mr. Marotto informed Mr. Eccles that Act 100 - Right to Know Act signed on June 29, 2002 would need to be incorporated into the districts policy.  Policy 120 has now been revised to contain what is not being affected by the Right to Know Act. 

Ms. Wiercinski stated that the old policy contained Personnel Records, Public Records and Student Records all in one policy.  The Department of Education two years ago mandated the district to amend the Student Records policy.  Ms. Wiercinski stated that the Right to Know Act now requires the district to respond to any request within five (5) days.  The District may also now charge for the copy fees, however, this does not include the cost of the time it takes for the person making the copies.  Due to these changes, separate policies have been created.  

Mrs. Butville noted that all changes that were made to the policies have been reviewed by the Solicitors office.

Mr. Schoenstadt inquired how the policies are addressing the issue of maintaining records for 99 years.  Ms. Wiercinski replied all districts must be in compliance with the Department of Educations guidelines and Neshaminy has already submitted approval to the Department of Education regarding Student Records.  Currently, the district is revising Public Records to comply with Act 100 Right To Know. 

Dr. Spitz noted that in Policy 102, Selection and Election of Administrative Personnel Business Administrator should not be included since this policy only applies to Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents.   Mrs. Bostwick was in agreement with Dr. Spitz.

Mrs. Butville noted that even the policies that have not undergone any changes will have a revision date noted at the end, since the policy has been reviewed.

c)     Bid/s Budget Transfers

Mr. Paradise reviewed the following bids:

Bid No. 04-01 General School Supplies

                Bid Amount:  $170,333.81

The bid is for various classroom and office supplies for use throughout the district for the school year 2003/2004.  Mr. Paradise noted that the awards are recommended to the vendors listed on the basis of having submitted the lowest bids which meet the minimum specifications.  Mr. Paradise further noted that $73,000 of the bid is for paper.  Mr. Paradise explained that this bid is for specific items which every school requests, for example, construction paper, index cards, crayons, etc.  By ordering these items in quantity the district receives a tremendous price advantage.  Mr. Paradise further advised that the same bid last year was $156,000.  Mr. Paradise further noted that the largest item, paper, went from $1.94 a ream to $2.10 a ream. 

                Mr. Stack noted that the district needs to exam all of the costs.  Mr. Paradise explained that this is a bid that creates an asset, not an expenditure.  The bid creates an inventory and the supplies are purchased from the schools per pupil allocation.

                Mrs. Bostwick brought up the idea of doing business in a consortium effort to keep costs down.  Mr. Paradise advised that with this bid the district always does better on its own. 

                Bid No. 03-28 Bituminous Concrete Paving, Resurfacing and Repair

                Bid Amount:  $98,773.70

                Paving repairs at Maple Point Middle School

                Mr. Paradise noted that this paving will take place in the rear of the facility.  Mr. Paradise advised that the budgeted amount for this project was $100,000.

                Mr. Paradise presented Budget Transfer Report No. 03-4 (Working Copy).  Dr. Spitz made an inquiry regarding transaction number 3.  Mr. Paradise advised that this transfer is to balance the salary accounts for sabbaticals, leaves, salary adjustments and additional staff.  Mr. Paradise noted that these monies have been specifically budgeted for that general reason and they are being put into the appropriate accounts.

                Mrs. Butville inquired why there is a large amount for Mentor Pay.  Mr. Wilson noted that last year the budget was done while the district was still negotiating with the federation regarding the amount of pay for mentor teachers, and at that point in time the amount of mentor teachers was significantly less then the number of teachers this year.  Mr. Wilson further noted that any long term substitute must be assigned a mentor teacher, and there was also a pay increase for teacher mentors.  That increase went from $500 a year to $l,000 a year or $500 per term.  Mr. Wilson stated that leaves are usually by semester, however, if someone goes out on leave and requests a full semester, but they have the right to come back earlier.

                The two bids and Budget Transfer Report No. 03-4 (Working Copy) will be presented for approval at the February 25th Public Meeting.

                Ms. Drioli requested a price for the energy usage at the high school due to the fact that she believes the school has an inability to be efficient.  These figures need to be presented to the public.  Also, the public needs to be aware of what an energy efficient building would cost.

                Mr. Schoenstadt advised that the district spends approximately $873,000 a year on the high school for maintenance, up-keep, fuel, energy costs, etc. 

8        Superintendents Report

None.

9.     Committee Reports

a.     Board Policies

Discussed earlier.

b.      Educational Development

Dr. Spitz advised that the meeting scheduled for February 18th is being moved to March 18th at the request of Dr. Bocutti due to the presentations, which will be taking place at the various schools regarding the high school project.

c.              Facilities/Finance Committee

Ms. Soifer advised that meeting will be scheduled when direction is received from the Board regarding what action will be taken in terms of borrowing, etc.

d.              Intermediate Unit Board

Ms. Drioli advised that the budget was presented and Neshaminys portion is down.

e.     Educational Foundation

Dr. Costanzo reported that the foundation has awarded grants totaling $15,000 to 36 teachers for classroom projects.

f.  Technical School Board

Mrs. Butville advised that 552 students have applied to 9th grade and presently the Tech School can accommodate 400 students.  Emergency Services Technology program will be implemented this year.  This program is not gender specific.  Mrs. Butville advised that negotiations with the support staff are moving along. 

Mrs. Butville noted that a letter needs to be sent out regarding the Treasurer.  Neshaminy must forward a letter to the other sending schools in order that they can also vote on same.  Neshaminy voted on this last year. This process needs to occur in order that the Articles of Agreement can be amended.

There was Board consensus to continue the process.

g.            Technology

Mr. Stack advised the a meeting is scheduled for March 4th regarding the elementary school labs.

10.     Future Topics

Mr. Paradise informed Board members that the district applied for two (2) security vehicles and two (2) maintenance vans which dates back approximately 2 years which would contain a certain amount of advertising. 

Mr. Eccles advised that they are brand new vehicles, the district pays $l.00 a year, and it is provided either at a 2, 3 or 4 year term.  The district will have the choice of advertising.  Mr. Eccles noted that the districts advertising policy would negate this process since it states that only 10% of the space can be used for advertising, therefore, the policy would need to be amended.  Mr. Eccles further noted that this is a great benefit to the district and maintenance department with a further savings to the taxpayers.

Mrs. Butville inquired how large would the Neshaminy name be on the vehicles, and would it be easily distinguishable that this is a Neshaminy vehicle.

Mr. Paradise noted that the two security vehicles were not budgeted for, however, the two maintenance vans are actually budget requests for next year, and they could be removed if an agreement is reached.  Mr. Paradise noted that he has forwarded the agreement to the Solicitor for review.

There was Board consensus to place this item on the agenda at the February 25th public meeting.

11.   Agenda Development for the February 25, 2003 Public Meeting

12.        Correspondence

No correspondence was received.

13.   Other Board Business

Mrs. Bostwick announced that the next Work Session to be held on March 11, 2003 will take place at Neshaminy High School in G9A.  Mrs. Bostwick suggested that a tour of the building could take place at 6:30 p.m. and the Work Session could begin at 7:30 p.m.

Mr. Eccles inquired regarding the Per Capita Exonerations for Middletown Township.  Ms. Drioli noted that the exonerations are mostly high school students.

 

Mrs. Butville attended the Legislative Leadership Conference in Hershey, which included a 4 hour conference regarding No Child Left Behind.  The new Secretary of Education was introduced, Ms. Vicki Phillips from Lancaster.  Mrs. Butville noted that Governor Rendell has four main priorities for education:

          Full-day kindergarten

          Pre-kindergarten program

          Property tax reform

          Decreasing class size in the lower grades

 

Legislative Lobby Day will take place on April 29, 2003 in Harrisburg.  Mrs. Butville distributed a letter to Board members regarding a Senate Bill in the amount of $5 billion for Title 5 programs to help school districts meet the costs of implementing the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

 

Mrs. Butville further advised that there is a referendum kit, which is being discussed at great lengths by the legislation and the PSBA and offered a copy of same to any board members interested in reviewing the kit. 

 

Mrs. Bostwick noted that this is why the district needs to continue to send Board members to various conferences because it gives the district exposure and information for the district.  Mrs. Butville noted that by attending the conferences board members could voice their concerns first hand to legislators. 

 

Mrs. Butville advised that a Booster Seat law will be in effect requiring all children to the age of seven be in a booster seat, except for school buses.  However, it does include school vans that transport students, but it will not take effect until July.

 

Mrs. Bostwick advised that the Board would be having an Executive Session after this session.

 

Mrs. Kostar noted that this is an election year and requested that the Board take into consideration that the Solicitor, not only of the School District but also of Lower Southampton Township, is involved in one of the Republican parties.  Mrs. Kostar is requesting that anything pertaining to the new high school that the Solicitor, since he is involved in looking for new school board members, that he should be exempted for anything pertaining to the new high school, and from being able to make any additional money as a result of the new high school.  Since it is referring to anything being political, he should be exempted.  Mrs. Kostar noted that the school board should look into getting an additional attorney, since as far as she is concerned; it is a conflict of interest.  Mrs. Kostar is requesting this as a part of this community and that it is for the betterment of this community.  Mrs. Kostar further stated not only the Solicitor, but also Ms. Wiercinski.

 

Ms. Wiercinski advised that Timothy ONeill, Esquire is bond counsel.

 

Dr. Spitz noted that Mrs. Kostar is the Chairman of the Democratic Committee in charge of looking for candidates for school board. 

 

Ms. Drioli noted that the Solicitor of Lower Southampton Township has nothing to do with the politics of Lower Southampton Township and has no influence in Lower Southampton politics.

 

Mr. Thomas Gallagher, Levittown, requested as a taxpayer to see the Solicitors report regarding a referendum. 

 

14.     Adjournment of Meeting

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

                                                                                Respectfully submitted,
                                                                
                                Anita E. Walls
                                                                
                                Board Secretary

 
 

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