BOARD MEETING MINUTES (WORK SESSION)
NESHAMINY BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS
March 11, 2003
The Neshaminy Board of School
Directors met in public session on March 11, 2003 in the Board Room of
Maple Point Middle School.The following persons were in attendance:
Mrs. June R. Bostwick
Mrs. Yvonne V. Butville
Mr. P. Howard Wilson
Dr. Raymond J. Boccuti
Ms. Carol A. Drioli
Mr. Richard S. Marotto
Mr. Richard M. Eccles*
Mr. Steven E. Schoenstadt
Mr. Joseph V. Paradise
Mr. Bruce M. Wyatt
Mr. Michael A. Soifer
Dr. William H. Spitz
Mr. Edward T. Stack
OTHERS: Approximately 42 persons fromthe public, staff and press
BOARD MEMBER NOT PRESENT:
Mrs. Kimberly A. Jowett
Mrs. Anita E. Walls
* left at 8:45 p.m.
Prior to the Work Session an
Executive Session was held.
School Board Candidates present at
the meeting were Mr. Jason Bowman, Mrs. Irene Boyle, Mrs. Susan Cummings
and Mr. Stan Tokarski.
Call to Order
Bostwick called the meeting to order at 7:15 p.m.
Bostwick requested those in attendance join in the salute to the flag.
Bostwick announced that after public comment Mr. Paradise would make a
presentation regarding the Neshaminy School District Tentative Facilities
Financial Plan A. Also, Item
5a, Referendum, would be discussed after Item 6, Items for Approval, and
would be limited to one-half hour discussion.
Bostwick noted that public comment would be limited to two minutes per
Arianne Rayner, Langhorne, PA, addressed the Board as follows:
a Junior at Neshaminy High School I see the need for a new high school on
a daily basis. This new
school should be made to last with considerations for future needs.
I feel very strongly that the plans for the school should include a
pool. This modern facility
could be used to support the expanding swim program at the high school
level, as well as the physical education curriculum and community
activities. As you can see I
am a proud member of the girls swim team, so naturally my teammates and I
take a special interest in the fate of the pool and all we have worked so
hard to build. The present
pool facilities are inadequate and poorly maintained, not fit to support
the swim program. A major
problem we battle as a team is to find transportation to and from
practices at Poquessing and Neshaminy Middle School.
This and other problems could be easily solved if there were a pool
at the new high school. It is
unfortunate that in a couple of years Neshaminy will be the only school in
the region without a pool at the high school in their district.
This pool could also be a major money maker for the district. If the facilities are large enough it could be used to host
large swim meets such as league championships, District I championships
and USS Swim meets. Valuable
swim lessons could be taught to students in gym classes.
Swimming as well as other water skills such as lifeguarding are
valuable tools that a person could use their whole life. Depriving students of these skills could be dangerous to
their health and safety. Young
children in the Neshaminy Aquatics program, competitive swimmers and older
community members alike can benefit from having this pool. Swimming is a lifelong skill that will keep you happy and
healthy. Finally, I ask you
if you propose this new facility, we want it to last fifty years or more.
Where do you see the swim program and the health and recreation of
the Neshaminy community in fifty years?”
Jessica Saloky, Feasterville, PA, representing Neshaminy’s core program
which develops athletes specifically swimmers of all ages within the
Neshaminy School District, stated:
have been involved in Neshaminy swimming since fourth grade and will be
entering our freshman year in 2003. As
athletes we have grown throughout this program and now feel ready to enter
high school swimming. Currently,
the plans for a new high school do not include swimming facilities. We are naturally concerned and would like to emphasis why we
would like this committee to reconsider building a new pool.
A new modern swimming pool will allow us to become the best
swimmers that we can be, training out of high school like other schools in
our division. With this new
pool we could extend our current program to include a greater number of
student athletes. We could
also host meets, which could bring in revenue for the school community and
district. As swimmers we
would like our sport represented at our high school like all other school
activities. I have played
many other sports, but I know swimming is a sport I will enjoy forever.
Our senior year is 2007 which would be the opening of the new pool,
and with this the opportunity to continue the strong tradition of
Neshaminy swimming. This new
pool will give us and future swimmers the exciting and lasting memories of
Bob Feather, Levittown, PA, emphasized that his goal is not to close the
middle school pools, but the emphasis is to include a swimming program at
the new high school with a new pool.
Mr. Feather advised that they are part of the community and they
want to be involved. The
taxpayers are ultimately funding the building of new facility.
Mr. Feather noted that other schools in the region, North Penn,
Pennsbury, Central Bucks, Bensalem, Council Rock, etc. are high schools
with pools and put emphasis on a swimming program.
Mr. Feather suggested to the Board that swimming is made part of
the curriculum. Mr. Feather
felt that he could get a consensus that square dancing, rock climbing,
etc. are not necessities. Swimming
is a lifelong sport that can be used by everyone.
Mr. Feather noted that the pool could be used to teach water safety
to young children, as well as adults.
Donna Tull, Levittown, PA, thanked Mrs. Butville for coming to speak to
the students at Everitt. Mrs.
Tull reiterated that Mrs. Kelly has become a big part of Everitt’s pride
and everyone is hopeful that she can continue at Everitt.
Kevin Yeingst advised that after reading the article in the Bucks County
Courier Times it seems very slanted against the new school. Mr. Yeingst noted that the figures reported puts fear into
the public, however there is no mention in the article regarding what the
costs would be to repair the high school.
Mr. Yeingst hoped that the figures for repair would also be
presented to the public since the article was very slanted.
Maureen Coleman, Feasterville, PA, advised that she is Neshaminy’s sole
diver, and the district does not have a diving board.
Ms. Coleman informed the board that she needed to attend a private
aquatic club and pay a membership in order to practice diving for
Neshaminy’s swim team. Ms.
Coleman was only able to practice approximately 2-3 hours per week,
including diving lessons, which she also funded herself.
Other area school districts are providing 15 hours of diving
practice to their students. Ms.
Coleman suggested that with a new pool it might be possible for Neshaminy
to encourage other students to participate in diving.
Ms. Coleman noted that there are other students in Neshaminy who
would like to participate, however, they cannot afford to pay for their
own lessons and memberships. It
was noted that Ms. Coleman made it to Districts for Neshaminy even though
she had to pay for her own lessons and travel to other areas for practice.
Ashley McNulty, Hulmeville, PA, student representative, provided an
up-date on the student’s opinion regarding a new high school.
The students primarily have three viewpoints: support the new facility, against the new facility or don’t
care. Two underlying desires
are that the students do not want to see the auditorium or gymnasium
eliminated, and there is a great desire for a swimming pool.
Brian Suter, girl’s swim team coach at Neshaminy, advised that with the
help of Dan Gallagher, the aquatics director, they have developed an age
group program for community residents of Neshaminy.
Mr. Suter pointed out that there are many parents, students and
teachers in support of the swimming program.
Mr. Suter advised that swimming provides pool safety for all levels
of students. Mr. Suter
reported that documentation from the United States census has disclosed
that 80% of all drownings between the age of one and fourteen occur at
home pools. Mr. Suter advised
that if the district is teaching students for the future, swimming should
be included in that curriculum and they should be provided with the tools
safety. Mr. Suter urged
that the 9th grade curriculum of swimming be continued at the
high school, and Mr. Suter would hate to see that lost in our district.
Tom Gallagher, Levittown, PA, once again spoke regarding the proposed new
high school and the binding referendum.
Mr. Gallagher noted that the legal opinion on this form of
referendum has changed and it only affects the true question and not all
business as the Board previously thought.
Mr. Gallagher reminded the Board that even though interest rates
and enrollments are down, however the economy is also down.
Mr. Gallagher noted that just because interest rates are down it
does not mean it is a good time to move forward in this economy. Mr. Gallagher advised that Mr. Stack has suggested that a
middle school would be closed to help pay for the bond issue and decrease
costs, however Mr. Gallagher does not see any concrete evidence of a plan
to do this. Mr. Gallagher
further advised the Board that a good portion of the tax base did not
receive the mailing on these informational sessions.
Mr. Gallagher stated that most of the 19056 zip codes were missed
in some way and that is a large portion of the district.
Mr. Gallagher reminded the Board that a large portion of the
residents are senior citizens living on fixed incomes and with state
mandated tax increases for the pension fund it is just not feasible to
continuously ask them to pay more taxes.
Mr. Gallagher urged the Board not to discount the intelligence of
the voters in this district.
Drioli inquired whether the members of the swimming group present would
still be interested in a new high school if a pool was not included in the
– Neshaminy School District Tentative Facilities Financial Plan A
Paradise provided Board members with a handout concerning facilities
financial plan. Mr. Paradise
stressed to Board members that this is one possible plan, and hence, the
word “tentative.” Mr.
Paradise explained to members that following this tentative plan capital
improvement bonds would be issued in 2003-2004, construction would take
place in 2004-2006, the high school would open for grades 10-12 in
2006-2007 and grade 9 would be added in 2007-2008.
Mr. Paradise further advised that this plan would call for the
closure of a middle school in 2006-2007 and the rental of the middle
school in 2007-2008.
Soifer questioned where would the ninth grade students be accommodated if
a middle school were closed. Mr.
Wilson stated that the Administration is confident that the students can
be accommodated in the other three middle schools.
Spitz advised that the middle school enrollment is decreasing
significantly wherein the district could house for this one year
2006-2007, grades 6-9 in the other three middle schools.
The enrollment decline will be taking place exactly in that time
Marotto advised that if Neshaminy Middle is closed in the year 2006 the
rest of the middle schools in the district would be at approximately 77%
capacity. The students could
be accommodated in the three remaining middle schools, but obviously
redistricting would occur. Mr.
Marotto advised that the advantage that the Board has with the 9th
grade regardless of when the Board decides to move the 9th
grade students to the high school, there will be more than enough room in
the middle schools.
Drioli suggested that whatever middle school is closed students will no
longer be placed at the middle school so that by the time of closure it
would not be a issue. Other
board members commented that busing could be an issue.
Paradise continued by explaining to Board members by the year 2008-2009
the former Eisenhower School would be sold and the Facilities and
Engineering Department would be relocated to the high school property, and
also in the year 2007-2008 the District Purchasing & Receiving
Department which is presently located at Neshaminy Middle would be
Paradise advised that if capital improvement bonds are issued, based on
the amount of $l00M, debt repayment would not occur until the year
2004-2005. Mr. Paradise
advised that there are many ways to incur debt.
For example, a 20, 25, or 30 year mortgage, and the district could
have a level debt service paying the same amount every month, or a wrap
around debt service payment which would be “wrapped” around the
existing debt of the district.
Paradise noted that there could be a potential $2M savings with the
closure of a middle school. Also,
there is the possibility of $lM in revenue which would be received from
renting the middle school facility.
Soifer was concerned about the monies needed to make the middle school
facility rentable. Mr. Soifer
felt that it may take years before a positive revenue would be seen, in
fact a deficit would occur initially.
Mr. Paradise noted that many factors depend on the tenant, which is
obtained for the facility.
Paradise advised that the average assessment in the district is 6,600, and
in the year 2004-2005 an increase of 9.5 mills, which equates to $63.00
would occur. In year
2005-2006 an additional 9.5 mills which provides a cumulative increase of
$l26.00 and in the year 2006-2007 there would be a decrease in millage of
l.5 due to the closure of the middle school and in the year 2007-2008 with
the rental income the district would show a reduction of 5.5 mills which
would bring the average tax increase to $8l.00.
Mr. Paradise stated that would remain the consistent increase for
the next 2l years.
Paradise advised that these figures do take into consideration state
Spitz noted that the average increase in the Council Rock School District
for the new high school, which was built, was an average of $360.00 per
Paradise made it very clear that this is by no means the only tax increase
which the district will need to incur in the upcoming years.
Mr. Paradise advised that this is the tax increase that would be
applicable to the $l00M bond for the high school facility. Other needs and
other issues still exist.
Drioli requested a chart to depict what renovation costs would be to the
high school facility. Ms.
Drioli noted that there will be a tax increase whether a new school is
built or whether renovations occur.
Stack noted that when referring to the $l00M issue, $85M for the high
school, $5M for capitalized costs and $l0M could be used for other
purposes and fund the capital expenditures.
Mr. Paradise noted that it will deal with the repayment of the
Stack felt the community was done a disservice with the headlines in this
morning’s paper, and Mr. Stack feels a correction is in order.
Middle School to Baltimore, Maryland for Music Competition and Awards
Banquet – May 3-4, 2003
Southampton Elementary School to Sea World, Orlando, Florida Environmental
Excellence Award 2003 – May 6-8, 2003
High School Technology Student Association competition to Seven Springs
Resort, Champion, PA, April 9 – 12, 2003
was board consensus for the students to attend.
School Calendar for 2003-2004
Wilson noted that the calendar is very similar to this year’s calendar.
School will still be closed a week during Easter.
The calendar reflects 187 student days and 188.5 teacher days.
Wilson noted that for this school year minutes will be added to the school
day to make up the snow days. Seniors
will be graduating on June 11, 2003 and elementary schools will be closing
on time. Mr. Wilson noted
that if a problem should occur seniors could be asked to practice for
graduation on Saturday. Mr.
Wilson announced that the Easter week vacation will remain in effect.
Programs and Services/Instructional Materials Budget for 2003-2004
Wilson announced that this item will be placed on the public meeting
agenda on March 25, 2003 for approval.
School Programs 2003
Dr. Boccuti advised that the summer school program
provides a Secondary Summer School (for
students in Grades 6-12) and a Summer Fine Arts Program, which consists of
art, dance, instrumental music and summer stock.
These programs are designed to be completely self sufficient and
are at no cost to the school district.
to Articles of Agreement to Bucks County Technical School to provide that
the name of the Joint Board shall be the Bucks County Technical High
School Joint Board
Mr. Wilson advised that a consensus is necessary to
have the words “high school” added to the name.
was board consensus for the Bucks County Technical School change of name
to the Bucks County Technical High School Joint Board.
Butville inquired regarding the amendment suggested by Neshaminy regarding
the Technical School Treasurer position.
Mr. Wilson noted a meeting was scheduled for Monday.
Mr. Paradise advised that there are
Transfer Report No. 03-5 (Working Copy) will be presented for approval at
the March 25th Public Meeting.
Mrs. Bostwick called for a recess of the meeting at 8:15 p.m.
Mrs. Bostwick reconvened the meeting at 8:30 p.m.
How will a referendum help the district solve the problem at
the high school?
Should other issues also be brought to a referendum vote.
If the referendum is rejected for $l00M debt, would that then
say that we have the approval of the community to go ahead and spend $40M
(do nothing approach).
Mr. Stack noted that the Board is elected by the
community to make decisions, to collect information and it is clear that
we are exhausting all avenues to get that information and build that into
the decision process.
Butville commented that the purpose of the referendum is to get public
input as to what to do about a situation.
Mrs. Butville noted that on a referendum you will not receive much
public input. The Board will
be much better served by going to the public, giving them the information,
collecting their information, exchanging ideas and then understand what
the public really wants. Discussions
with the public at the informational meetings which will better serve the
Drioli noted that the last bond issue in the amount of $20M was not called
to a referendum. Ms. Drioli
stated that she is not sure she is against the referendum, however, she is
against the motive of some of the individuals calling for the referendum.
Bostwick noted that we have not heard the same call for referendum if the
district was going to renovate. The
referendum seems to pertain only if a new building is constructed, which
in fact, will take less time, cost less money, etc. than some of the other
options suggested. Mrs.
Bostwick mentioned that only l5% of the population may vote on the
referendum and that 15% of the population would be deciding the future of
Eccles stated that he does not have a problem building a new high school.
Mr. Eccles believes that something needs to be done.
Mr. Eccles questioned how many people have been attending the
informational meetings and the response was 30-35 individuals.
Mr. Eccles would love to see more people attend.
Mr. Eccles noted that he wrote a letter to the Editor and some
individuals were not very happy, however, he received many phone calls
thanking him for standing up. Mr.
Eccles stated that he would like to see a new high school, a new pool, a
new football stadium, however he can afford this.
Mr. Eccles does have a concern for the people of the community who
cannot afford same. Mr.
Eccles noted that the reason for the referendum is that we live in a
democratic society. Mr. Eccles feels that sooner or later in the state of
Pennsylvania there will be relief. Mr.
Eccles also believes that referendums will become a fact of life.
Mr. Eccles feels the voters need to have a greater say in what the
board does. Mr. Eccles
reiterated to the Board to let the people decide.
Mr. Eccles believes that the community is educated, and given the
facts they would choose to build a new school.
Mr. Eccles still feels a referendum is the way to go.
Spitz commented that Mr. Eccles’ remarks were a great campaign speech.
Mr. Eccles responded that if politics are pulled into the
discussion he would leave and what he said was not intended to be a
campaign speech. Ms. Drioli
was concerned about the article Mr. Eccles wrote.
Mr. Eccles stated that he is allowed and entitled to have his own
opinion. Mrs. Butville asked
that Mr. Eccles remain at the meeting and continue as an elected board
member. Mr. Schoenstadt
commented that Mr. Eccles makes a valid contribution and he is the
conscience of the different perspective and things are not accomplished in
Eccles left the meeting at 8:45 p.m.
Schoenstadt stated that this type of animosity and dissention is not
Wilson stated that this is a board meeting and individuals in the audience
who bellow out comments will need to leave.
Spitz responded that he believes Mr. Eccles is sincere about his beliefs
and he is certainly entitled to his opinion.
Dr. Spitz noted that in the past he has been a valued board member.
Dr. Spitz stated that unfortunately his concern is that the same
group of people attend the meetings and make a point of singling out Mr.
Eccles for praise, and make a point as a vendetta in his opinion to
trashing the rest of the board members. Dr. Spitz commented that eight of the nine board members are
trashed on a regular basis by the people who support Mr. Eccles.
Dr. Spitz does not blame Mr. Eccles for that, however, for Mr.
Eccles to make a statement about his beliefs, which he is certainly
entitled to do, and then to simply walk out as he has done in the past
does not help anyone. Dr.
Spitz would like for Mr. Eccles to contribute to the board in a positive
way and the method chosen to express his views and then leave when someone
asks him a question about his views is not helpful to anyone. Dr. Spitz is concerned about the constant trashing of eight
of the nine members of this board by the same group of people who attend
most of our meetings.
Soifer commented that if people want to attend board meetings and voice
their opinions they have every right to do so and it does not matter,
because this is what a democracy is for.
Mr. Soifer would like to see the board members exert enough
self-control to let people express their opinions without turning around
and issuing their own speech after the fact.
The board needs to have discussion and that is the only way things
will get accomplished.
Drioli has a difficult time with the article written to the editor.
Ms. Drioli respected Mr. Eccles opinion until things began
appearing in print. Ms.
Drioli feels Mr. Eccles does make a contribution to this board.
Stack inquired what percentage of the voting population is necessary to
have a proper representation of the viewpoint of the community at large.
Mr. Stack is aware that it is not 10% or 15% of the voters you will
get in the primary. The
opportunity will not be available until a national election or
presidential election to get a true feedback from the community.
Bostwick suggested that this issue be brought to the Finance Committee
because there are so many questions concerning what question will be
asked, how will it be phrased, and the dollar amount on the question. Mrs. Bostwick suggested that the Finance Committee along with
Mr. Paradise and the Administration can work on these questions.
Wilson discussed the calendar situation earlier in the meeting.
No meeting was held.
Mr. Marotto is continuing to look at all the policies.
Mrs. Butville announced that the letter to Arlen Spector did not
help since the funding was cut.
Spitz advised that a meeting is scheduled for March 18, 2003.
Mr. Soifer will arrange to
schedule a meeting during the month of March.
Mr. Soifer noted that the handout from Mr. Paradise will be
reviewed and Mr. Minotti will provide further information.
Discussion ensued regarding the scope and nature of the
facilities/finance meeting along with the parameters in which the finance
committee will operate. Mr.
Soifer is concerned that assumptions are being made that certain
facilities will be used to accommodate students, however, is any thought
being given to the fact that the facility in five years from now may not
be in a condition to accommodate those students.
Mr. Schoenstadt suggested that the information from
the Executive committee meetings should be reviewed since it is very clear
and explicit. Mr. Soifer’s
concern is that there are preconceived ideas.
Mr. Soifer will contact all board members with the
date of the meeting.
Intermediate Unit Board
Drioli noted that all board members must complete the ballots for the
Election of Members to the Bucks County Schools Intermediate Unit Board of
Spitz reported that a meeting was held on March 10th and
discussion ensued regarding what should be done with the current assets,
which are currently earning l% in a savings account.
A tentative decision was made to move same into a higher yielding
investment. Ideas are still
being researched for a fall fundraiser.
Technical School Board
Butville reported that the Tech School will be presenting the play “Once
Upon This Island” which is a coffee theater.
Summer exploratory program has been set for 6-8th
graders to get a feel for the tech school which takes place on July 14th
through 31st . The
VICA club students received 29 medals from competition.
The DECA club participated in state competition with 20 students.
Spitz advised that the Tech School Budget Committee had their first
meeting last week.
Stack advised that a meeting is scheduled for March 26th
regarding the elementary school labs.
Agenda Development for
the March 25, 2003 Public Meeting
correspondence was received.
Other Board Business
Mr. Schoenstadt advised that a new organization called
“What About the Kids” exists. A
local nonpartisan group has formed a committee in order to identify
candidates for school board, and then to support those candidates with the
primary focus being to further the interests of the children of the
Neshaminy School District and their education.
This committee will be contacting all the school board candidates
in order to get a position statement and to give them the seven goals and
objectives of the organization. The
committee has asked existing school board members and school
superintendents throughout the county to participate and join the
organization. Mr. Schoenstadt
advised that you can join online at HTTP://www.whataboutthekids.org.
The organization was heavily responsible for the election of Ed
Rendell and many of the legislatures.
The local Neshaminy group will be contacting all of the candidates. Mr. Schoenstadt stated that 363 school districts currently
participate. Their agenda is
to find school board candidates who are not politicians, and who are not
pushing political agendas.
Schoenstadt encouraged every board member to sign up. The focus is on the students and education and placing the
students first. The seven
point agenda includes safety, environment, security, curriculum, etc.
Butville announced that the PSBA legislative lobby day is April 29, 2003.
Spitz announced that the Education Foundation would like to look into the
possibility of having a company (such as Harris) do work tracking down
alumni and getting addresses and phone numbers.
Further details will be provided in the future.
Mrs. Butville thought that the district was going to receive
permission from each graduate to obtain the information and contact them. Mr. Wilson noted that under FERPA it cannot be done.
Spitz noted that several surrounding school districts have found a way to
Stack would like to see that the next Work Session agenda include an item
for discussion regarding the Budget.
Mr. Stack noted that there will be a meeting in Doylestown on March
31st and state representatives will be present.
Mr. Stack noted that the majority of people he has spoken with are
interested and concerned in tax reform and the ways schools are funded in
Pennsylvania. Mr. Stack urged
as many board members as possible to attend the legislative meeting.
Adjournment of Meeting
Stack moved the meeting be adjourned and Mr. Soifer seconded the motion.
The Board voted to adjourn the meeting with seven ayes.
Mrs. Bostwick adjourned the meeting at 9:25 p.m.
Anita E. Walls