PUBLIC BOARD MEETING MINUTES (WORK SESSION)
NESHAMINY BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS
May 13, 2003
Neshaminy Board of School Directors met in public session on May 13, 2003,
at Maple Point Middle School
The following persons were in attendance:
June R. Bostwick, President
P. Howard Wilson
Kimberly A. Jowett, Vice-President
Mrs. Yvonne V. Butville
Ms. Carol A. Drioli*
Raymond J. Boccuti
Mr. Harry P. Jones
Mr. Richard S. Marotto
Richard M. Eccles
Joseph V. Paradise
Steven E. Schoenstadt
Bruce M. Wyatt
Michael A. Soifer
Dr. William H. Spitz
Edward T. Stack
41 persons from the public, staff and press
Anita E. Walls
at 7:10 p.m. and left at 8:00 p.m.
Call to Order
Bostwick called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Pledge of Allegiance
Bostwick requested those in attendance join in the salute to the flag.
Wilson was pleased to present awards to members of the Future Business
Leaders of America who attended regional competitions in Seven Springs. Thirteen Neshaminy students took eleven of the top awards in
the state of Pennsylvania. Two
first place winners will represent Neshaminy School District at the
national competition in Dallas, Texas.
Certificates were presented to the following students:
Caralyn Duke, Kyle Elfstrom, Ross Gertz, Ashley McNulty, Michael
Neil Harner, Avinish Rajput, Richard Petillo, Matthew Piccione,
Phil Halikias, Demtri Pavalchin, Amar Patel, Cecilia Olmo.
Maria Caballero, Trevose, PA whose son is disabled and is in the fifth
grade with the Intermediate Unit is having difficulty with the placement
of her son into middle school. Mrs.
Caballero stated that since September the district has known that he will
be attending middle school and Mrs. Caballero has obtained an attorney who
specializes in these issues since she is not getting satisfaction from the
district. Mrs. Caballero
stated that her child is not like any child; he cannot just attend any
school. The district has
reevaluated him and has agreed with the IEP for next year.
Mrs. Caballero is not receiving answers, and frankly, Mrs.
Caballero believes the district is not upholding their responsibilities to
her child. Mrs. Caballero
does not know why she needs to fight for his rights.
These rights are given to him by this country.
Mrs. Caballero is ready to go to the federal level to get the
programs for her child. Mrs.
Caballero stated that last year Tawanka was closed because enrollment was
down. This year the district
is stating there is no room for her son. Mrs.
Caballero is running out of time. The
IU needs to hire teachers, aides, etc.
Howland, Langhorne, PA, resident for twenty-two years stated his theory is
the old and the new. Mr.
Howland feels that a lot of money has gone into the Maple Point facility.
Mr. Howlandï¿½s recommendation is that the high school is not
destroyed completely, and use it for a sports complex headquarters and
bus/maintenance headquarters. The
building is a disgrace and the asbestos is a problem.
Mr. Howland suggested that additions be put onto the Maple Point
facility and convert it into a high school.
Mr. Howland further suggested that the Administration move out of
Maple Point, which would provide more room for students. Mr. Howland suggested that the district speak with the County
in order to obtain parking privileges at Core Creek Park.
George McConnell, Hulmeville, PA, retired mechanical engineer, stated that
his duty in his position was to keep things running and he was responsible
for same. Mr. McConnell
stated that it is irresponsible of the school board to allow not only the
high school, but all the buildings to fall into a state of disrepair. Mr. McConnell noted that Neshaminy Middle School requires
about $40M in repairs. Mr.
McConnell questioned who will spend a $1M to rent that facility if they
will be faced with that much repair.
Mr. McConnell questioned the validity of obtaining $1M a year
rental for that facility. Mr.
McConnell feels that $40M is an inflated figure to make the high school
more attractive. Mr. McConnell stated there is no need to spend $l.9M for
portable classrooms. Mr.
McConnell stated that in 8-10 years it will require spending approximately
$2M a year, which would be in the budget, at which time the high school
would be up to an acceptable level. Mr.
McConnell felt instead of building a new school, $20M should be spent to
renovate the present school. Mr.
McConnell stated that he is a taxpayer and together the district receives
about $126M a year from the taxpayers and the taxpayers need credibility.
Mr. McConnell noted that money cannot be spent that the district
does not have. The district
needs to find a different source, other than the taxpayer.
Louise Boyd, President of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers and
Neshaminy High School Biology Teacher, stated the consideration of
changing the schedules of lead teachers from three periods of release time
to two periods of release time. Ms.
Boyd has learned that the Board will take time from the Educational
Development meeting to hear from the lead teachers regarding this issue.
Ms. Boyd stated to make this change will result in less cost
savings and will be quite hurtful to the curriculum, instruction and
programs. Ms. Boyd thanked
the Board for taking the opportunity to hear from the teachers before
making such a huge decision. Ms.
Boyd also thanked the Board for the time and consideration they are taking
into making a decision regarding the high school project, whether to build
new or renovate.
Knowles, Neshaminy Middle School, Academic Enrichment Teacher, spoke
regarding proposed cuts dealing with the academic enrichment teachers at
the elementary level and middle school level.
The cut would reduce the AE teachers at the elementary level from 4
to 3. Mr. Knowles stated that
in the past there has been one AE teacher in each building and this has
been cut back significantly almost every year.
With the proposed cut every AE teacher will need to travel from
building to building. Mr.
Knowles stated that it will have an overall impact at the elementary as
well as the secondary level. Mr.
Knowles also noted that the other cut, which involves Poquessing, does not
look significant on paper but is. Mr.
Knowles recalled when district boundaries were established years ago the
board noted that the students at Poquessing will always have the equal
education opportunity that is offered at the other district middle
schools. Mr. Knowles stated
that it will be difficult to find a teacher who will want the position at
Poquessing, since the teacher will be responsible for 6th ,7th
,8th , and 9th grade.
George Garrison, resident of Middletown Township since 1953, inquired what
each board members position was regarding the new high school.
Bostwick noted that any board comment will be made after public comment.
Brut, resident of Langhorne Borough, commented regarding taxpayer
questions and the procedure that is followed by the district.
Mr. Brut stated nothing good happens and you will either receive no
answer, will receive educational BS, or a white lie.
Mr. Brut stated that last year a question was presented to Mr.
Stack that was never answered, and one question to Mr. Wilson regarding
whether he was replaced as the Superintendent.
Mr. Brut stated that Mr. Wilson responded he was not, however what
he did not relay, and it was hidden in the budget, was the addition of a
fifth special education supervisor. Mr.
Brut proposes that when a new board is elected there should be a better
way to handle questions. Mr.
Brut handed in 15 questions to be answered by the district.
Basen, Flowers Mills resident turned over his three minute public comment
time to Mr. Phil Schieber.
Schieber, Flowers Mill resident and member of the Steering Committee,
responded primarily to the issue of the new high school, but in
particular, the Courier Times issue of May 7, 2003, which contains letters
from Steven Schoenstadt and guest editorial from Dr. William Spitz.
Mr. Schieber stated: It
is obvious that both of these Neshaminy School Board directors are in
favor of raising our taxes. In
previous letters to the editor and news reports, Board President, June
Bostwick, Mr. Stack, and Mrs. Butville have indicated that they approve
construction of a new high school. Mrs.
Drioli’s favorite phrase is “for the children.”
Mr. Schieber can surmise that she is also in favor of the project.
Incidentally, all of these individuals voted to increase the
tuition fee for the Bucks County Technical School.
Mr. Schieber noted that he served on the high school Steering
Committee and was among those who insisted that the final report include
the wording “if cost is not a factor”.
Well, cost is a factor and the current board refuses to listen and
accept the outrage of the community.
I resent the school board inference that there was a consensus,
conveniently leaving out that key phrase.
Mr. Schieber cleared the record and stated that he is the elected
President of the Executive Committee for the Villages of Flowers Mill and
he is an elected Middletown Township Auditor, but I do not take marching
orders from either political party as was the inference made in the
letters in the Courier Times. Mr.
Schieber noted that he is a common citizen expressing his opinion.
That opinion just happens to be a mirror of most of the citizens of
Neshaminy School District, not just Flowers Mill.
It may not be the opinion of those who have children in the
Neshaminy schools, but it clearly expresses the majority of the taxpayers
of the district. Mr. Schieber
stated: “If you doubt my
word, then by all means, prove I am wrong. Vote in favor of referendum on the proposed bond issue.
The school board contends that we should build now because of a
favorable bond market that will reduce the cost to the taxpayer.
This same board paid an architectural firm over a quarter of
million dollars, fired the firm, and then started over.
This board hired a food services director with no experience at
$60,000 per year. This also
saved us money? When this
board wanted to close Tawanka Elementary School the anticipated annual
savings were $3M, the taxpayers have yet to see the reported actual
savings. This board accepted
the resignation and retired the Superintendent and then paid him $l00,000
in consulting fees. It is
incredulous that they all of a sudden have a genuine concern of saving the
bond interest rate. They tell
us about the climbing of the market, while ignoring the timing of this
proposal in the face of funding the teacher’s retirement fund shortfall,
the 4% per year for six year teacher raise approval, approval when there
was still two years on the existing contract, inflation, providing
maintenance on other schools in the district.
For the past several years this board told us about all the tenured
teachers who were to be retired and replaced with lower salaries, but
where are these savings? What
happened to the new money coming out of Flowers Mill and Shadybrook?
Is a 4% annual increase an incentive to retire early?”
Mr. Schieber doubts it. The
decisions of this board are inconsistent, and at best, it could be
considered misfeasance. Mr.
Schieber also noted the clever and sneaky action of changing the order of
the ten speakers of the publicity tape now showing on the Neshaminy
channel. It is no accident that the first and last speaker are in
favor of the proposal. This
is a deliberate attempt to fool the public.
Open with the message you want to convey and close with the message
you want to convey. By the
way, does the new architect pay for these ads because designing a
refurbished facility will require them to actually do some work instead of
charging the Neshaminy taxpayers for a design previously paid for by at
least two other school districts. Mr.
Schieber also asked the consideration of board meeting filibusters and
picketing, depositing the taxpayers payments into an escrow account,
injunction and recall, above all think about the havoc you are about to
place upon our community. You
will not increase property values. When
supply outweighs the demand, prices will drop.
Mr. Schieber questioned how can you be the guardians of our
intellectual future when you do not understand the first rule of
economics. Mr. Schieber
presented petitions signed by well over six hundred people in the
community against the new high school and bond issue and it will be
received at the school office tomorrow when there is final count and
copies are made.
Ethel Kesselman, Feasterville, PA presented over 800 signatures on
petitions. Mrs. Kessleman
stated that these were not senior citizens; these individuals who signed
were from all walks of life. Mrs.
Kessleman went door to door and spoke to people in the community.
The people are not happy with the proposal to build a new school.
Mrs. Kesselman stated that this petition speaks for the people and
it is time for the board to listen to the community.
Bontempo, Feasterville, PA stated that he was one of the individuals who
helped collect the signatures, and he stated that every person asked,
“Why do they not have a referendum?”
Mr. Bentempo stated that the referendum would solve the problem.
If enough votes are received, you build a new high school, if not,
then you do not. Mr. Bontempo
questioned who authorized the film to be shown on the Neshaminy channel.
Mr. Bontempo expressed that he felt the film was a disgrace, and
that it was disgrace to show something like that on TV.
Helen Kostar, Democrat Committee woman, stated that the board has not been
listening since last September and she has stated all along that she does
not want politics involved. Mrs.
Kostar is present as a member of this community and it is not politics. Mrs. Kostar noted that it is part of an economic situation.
There are people, including her mother, that are on fixed incomes,
people are anticipating layoffs, and Mrs. Kostar has been asking since
September for a referendum, not politics.
Mrs. Kostar stated that she does not care what political party you
are associated with, she is here to help. Mrs.
Kostar is again asking the school board to listen to the people of the
community and ask what the people want, referendum.
Listen to them. Put
the referendum on the ballot, get feedback from the public, and forget
about the politics. Mrs.
Kostar is a concerned community member and graduate of Neshaminy High
School and Mrs. Kostar wants what is best for this district.
Boccuti responded to Mr. Knowles comments and stated that in anticipation
of a difficult budget process to look for ways to find efficiencies, to
save money, but to minimize impact on students, preferably with no impact
on programs. Comments were made that we are reducing academic enrichment
teachers at the elementary level from 4 to 3 and that is incorrect.
The district is looking at reducing elementary enrichment teachers
from 5 to 4. Each elementary
academic enrichment teacher next year will serve two schools.
The Administration is completely confident that in two and one-half
days we can expect each of the academic enrichment teachers to completely
serve the needs of academic enrichment in those schools.
Dr. Boccuti stated that this year the district currently has 180
academic enrichment students over 8 schools.
Next year the district is looking at approximately 107 students,
possibly a few more. Dr.
Boccuti stated to lose a little over 70 students and not address that
issue would be irresponsible. The
district feels that changes can occur in the staff, and still completely
deliver a complete program with no negative impact on the student.
Boccuti responded in reference to the Neshaminy High School Steering
Committee the exact words of the Steering Committee were recorded and
publicized in reference to the recommendations.
There were no changes made to the final words of the Steering
Committee. The last meeting was not concluded until every member of the
committee was in agreement.
Wilson responded to Mr. Brut who indicated that there are 5 special
education supervisors. Mr.
Wilson stated for the record that there are 4 special education
supervisors; one has taken over the Pupil Services responsibilities.
Mr. Wilson noted that his position was not replaced.
Dr. Muenker now handles the duties of Pupil Services and the other
three are supervisors of special education.
Paradise responded to Mr. McConnell regarding the issue of rental of
Neshaminy Middle School. The
district would save $2M to close the building.
The district would not save another $2M every year, however, the
district would be able to obtain rental income.
The realtor has stated that the building can be leased on a triple
net basis in “as is condition.” A
tenant would be available, in their professional opinion, to pay rent, pay
for all the utilities and maintenance, with the understanding that the
tenant would be responsible for the renovations in order to make it a
palatable complex for whatever their needs are.
Drioli noted that the next person who makes an accusation regarding
corruption that Ms. Drioli will demand that same is proven.
Ms. Drioli does not appreciate her character being attacked.
Eccles thanked the individuals who circulated the petitions for not
building a new high school and for a referendum.
Mr. Eccles stated that he carried one of those petitions.
Mr. Eccles stated that there is another group from Middletown with
over l,000 signatures. Mr.
Eccles stated to keep up the fight and it is not over yet.
commented that on the question of referendum, he wished that when everyone
was circulating petitions they would ask the question “What should be
done with the high school?” The
building requires $40-$50M in repair.
Mr. Stack noted that the proposal on the table helps to fund the
majority of that cost with the establishment of a new building and the
district can offset the cost by closing a middle school.
In other words, we are trying to come up with a cost that the
community could bear. Essentially,
it is important to find a plan and solution.
Mr. Stack has not heard that from any group.
Mr. Stack further commented:
years ago, Howard and Martha Lindner’s Save Our Schools or SOS group
promised not to reopen Maple Point. This
was despite record overcrowding at Neshaminy’s elementary schools. They had no plan but they conveyed a message that was clear
and simple – we can’t afford it.
It was clear that their real objective was to take control of the
school board. After the SOS
group gained control they opened Maple Point anyway at a cost of $l5M
million – the voter referendum was given but explicitly ignored!
years later, there is a clear and simple message from referendum
politicians. We cannot afford to build a new high school; let’s stop
this with a referendum. But,
again, the real objective is to gain control of the school board. This, I believe will allow the politicians and their friends
to benefit directly from the bond issue, construction, etc.
Of course, they say that they feel you’re paid, but oddly they
make little effort to campaign for property tax and school funding reform
– the real issue affecting our community.
referendum politicians appear to recognize the need for major renovations
at the high school. I wonder
how much their renovation plan will cost.
Perhaps $40-50M that will span many years while our children are
still in class. Without the annual net savings of an estimated $3M, that will
be realized in closing a middle school, their renovation plan would
clearly cost more than building new.
We would still be faced with renovations at Neshaminy Middle School
estimated between $20-25M. We
would have to pay for even more Band-Aids at the high school in another
the referendum politicians? You
see the investments that they have made in their “endorsed” candidates
with the most signs, the biggest signs that are planted throughout our
community. Why haven’t they
communicated their plan? I
guess they figure that they didn’t need to twelve years ago. They know
that there are plenty of people that will accept their empty message –
hook, line and sinker. I can
only hope that the voters see through these referendum politicians!”
Bostwick noted that her personal view is that by putting a referendum in
front of the taxpayer you are taking all the pressure off of your
Harrisburg representative. They
have not performed their job in twenty years, and now you would allow them
to get away with it again. Mrs.
Bostwick noted that the representatives in Harrisburg need to correct the
situation. Referendum is the
taxpayer’s voice, but it is Harrisburg that needs to make the changes.
Putting a referendum on the ballot is not the solution.
Butville stated that she has been reviewing costs of renovation vs. new
construction and information has been received regarding what would be
included in renovation and what the cost would be for a straight
renovation, which would not include the 9th grade attending the
high school. The cost would
be $41M. Mrs. Butville
advised that the renovated high school operational costs would be over $1M
per year. A new high school
facility would cost $860,000 a year to operate.
Mr. Stack noted that a new facility would be 430,000 square foot,
which would be larger and cheaper to operate.
Items for Approval
Appointment of Solicitor
presented the following motion
WHEREAS, the Neshaminy School
District Board of School Directors terminates the thirty day Solicitor
appointment with Sweet, Stevens, Tucker and Katz and appoints the law firm
of Begley, Carlin and Mandio, LLP, as general legal counsel and solicitor
to the Board of Education.
the enclosures shall also be adopted with this appointment.
Schoenstadt seconded the motion. Mrs.
Bostwick requested a roll call vote.
The roll call tally indicated the motion passed with nine ayes
(Mrs. Bostwick, Mrs. Butville, Ms. Drioli, Mr. Eccles, Mrs. Jowett, Mr.
Schoenstadt, Mr. Soifer, Dr. Spitz and Mr. Stack) zero nays, no
board unanimously approved the motion.
PLANCON Part A and Part B
Schoenstadt presented the following motion:
the Pennsylvania Department of Education
requires certain steps be taken for the school district renovations or
prior to scheduling an Act 34 hearing, PLANCON Part A and B must be
approved for submission to the Department.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Neshaminy
Board of School Directors approves PLANCON Part A and B as submitted for
review and recommends its submission to the Department of Education.
Jowett seconded the motion.
Drioli commented that this is a plan to provide to Harrisburg in order to
show them what might possibly be done.
This is not a vote to do anything.
Ms. Drioli noted that the district cannot discuss anything with
Harrisburg until this is adopted.
Soifer noted that this is a plan which contains square footage, certain
educational space requirements to meet mandates set by the state, and a
preliminary outline of what facilities would be provided, and based upon
these plans the state can begin to calculate any reimbursements that the
district may be entitled too. This
procedure needs to be completed whether or not a new facility is
constructed or renovation takes place.
Butville advised that the Act 34 public meeting cannot be held without the
submission of the Plancon A & B to the state.
Bostwick requested a roll call vote.
The roll call tally indicated the motion passed with eight ayes
(Mr. Stack, Dr. Spitz, Mr. Soifer, Mr. Schoenstadt, Mrs. Jowett, Ms.
Drioli, Mrs. Butville and Mrs. Bostwick and one nay (Mr. Eccles).
Drioli left the meeting at 8:00 p.m.
Items for Discussions
NESACC/Neshaminy Kids Club Lease Renewal
Mr. Wilson advised that an
extension is requested for two years at the current rate.
The board advised that they would like to see the Kids Club Lease
Renewal be for one year.
Possible short term loan for elementary computer labs and district
Mr. Paradise advised that the
current proposed budget document contains $500,000 to be used toward new
elementary school computer labs. Mr.
Paradise feels the district should not obtain long term debt for
technology. Mr. Paradise also
noted that $170,000 is directed to replacing servers.
Mr. Paradise suggested that the total amount would be $670,000.
Mr. Paradise suggested that the $670,000 could be borrowed for a
period of 4 years at a low rate of interest and the amount of $450,000
could be cut out of the current year budget.
Soifer stated that he is totally against this idea.
Mr. Soifer stated that he supports bond issues for capital
improvements. This item needs
to be budgeted. The district
cannot continue to obtain short term loans.
Mr. Schoenstadt was in agreement with Mr. Soifer.
Mr. Stack inquired whether
certain electrical repairs would need to be performed at the elementary
schools. Mr. Paradise noted
that the plan was to put that expense into the larger bond issue.
Mr. Soifer stated that the electrical repairs are capital
improvements and he did not have a problem with the repairs.
Dr. Spitz noted the labs currently in place have serviced the
district for 10-11 years.
Wilson noted that this idea was merely the Administration’s attempt to
get the millage rate down for this current budget.
Mr. Wilson noted that the elementary school labs have been
postponed for the last three years. The
computer labs need to be upgraded.
Mr. Wilson advised that the cost of the computer labs is currently
in the proposed budget.
Mr. Stack noted that
Neshaminy School District has a very low debt service.
Other districts are spending millions of dollars and are not going
into their general fund to pay for these types of improvements.
Dr. Boccuti noted that when a
computer lab is replaced the district does not have the luxury to replace
them in three years. The labs
are refurbished and used in other locations.
The current elementary labs are going on twelve years old.
Mr. Schoenstadt noted that
the Technology Committee has looked at this issue and has decided the
computer labs are the number one priority for the district.
Items for Approval
Neshaminy Middle School and Neshaminy High School, Future Problem
Solving Competition – University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut –
June 5-8, 2003.
Neshaminy High School Future Business Leaders National Competition,
Dallas, Texas – June 22-28, 2003.
Wyatt requested board approval for the two trips to send the students to
national competitions. Mr.
Wyatt further advised that the funding for these trips is very similar to
was board consensus for the students to attend.
Ms. Drioli was not present.
Termination of Lower Bucks County School Authority
Paradise noted that the Authority will be terminated with any funds
remaining to be turned over to the district to be placed into the current
year budget, and the board must accept their termination.
This will be presented on the agenda for approval at the May 27,
Appointment of School Board Treasurer
Mr. Wilson advised that
presented on the agenda at the May 27, 2003 for approval will be the
appointment of Mr. Paradise as School Board Treasurer.
2003-2004 Preliminary Budget
(To be discussed later in the
Information distributed prior
to the meeting. Mr. Paradise
reviewed the following bids:
Bid No. 04-08 Science Supplies
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 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.
The two bids and Budget Transfer Report No. 03-7 (Working Copy)
will be presented for approval at the May 27th Public Meeting.
Mrs. Butville advised that a
meeting was held and the No Child Left Behind policy was discussed.
Mrs. Butville attended the Pennsylvania School Board Association
Legislative meeting. Changes
have been made regarding charter schools and cyber schools. The Rendell budget is still being worked on and the major
concern is education funding. Mrs.
Butville inquired where is the money coming from if they intend to start
full day preschool and kindergarten and why is the money not being used
for the educational programs that are demanded by the state, and for which
the districts are not receiving funding for at this time.
Bostwick noted that Pennsylvania is not the only state that is having
difficulties, and Neshaminy School District is not the only district
needing new buildings in Pennsylvania.
Spitz advised that a meeting will take place on May 28th
whereat the lead teacher issue will be discussed at length.
Also, the annual test book adoption for the PSSA.
Mr. Wilson noted that if the board moves toward the lead teacher
program going back to two periods per day rather then three periods of
release time the net effect in the budget is .9 of a teaching position
which values at approximately $100,000.
Mr. Soifer advised there was
Spitz advised that a meeting was held May 12th and plans are
underway for next years fundraiser. Discussion
took place regarding contacting alumni in order to raise funds.
Legal issues are still of a concern, however, will be discussed
with the new solicitor.
Butville advised that the support staff contract is settled, however, the
budget is not. The next
meeting is scheduled for June 2nd .
The Articles of Agreement were not changed regarding the Treasurer. Junior and Senior proms have taken place and the Senior class
trip was held and took place in Florida.
Several students involved in VICA were winners at the state level
and three students will be traveling to Kansas City for further
competition. Graduation is
scheduled for Friday, June 13th.
Summer exploratory will take place for 6th, 7th
& 8th grades and will be held July 14th –31st.
Classes have been increased in order for more students to partake. Enrollment for the Tech School for the 2003-2004 school year
is approximately 1400 students. The
Juniors at the Tech School in collaboration with Drexel University will be
allowed to take the SAT preparation course for free and take the SAT test
in June cost free.
Spitz advised that the two smaller school districts and Bristol Township
all voted against the budget. The
primary reason for the significant increase in the Tech School budget is
the outgoing senior class is much smaller then the incoming freshman
class. Additional teachers
needed to be put into the budget. The
teacher contract also calls for the average of the salaries schedule of
the six sending districts. Dr.
Spitz noted that is a large one time increase.
Board commenced discussions on the proposed budget.
Mr. Paradise discussed with board members the 2003-2004 Budget
Update dated May 13, 2003, which was distributed to board members.
Mr. Paradise noted that the first pages deal with budget
reductions, which have been made since the working draft, and the total is
$2M. Mr. Paradise advised
that the larger numbers are salaries, staff retirements, AE gifted teacher
elimination and a large number for group health insurance rate reduction
in the amount of $500,000.
ensued regarding specific expenditures and reductions.
Mr. Paradise noted that the district does not do a rolling
increase. The district builds
from zero up every year.
Spitz inquired regarding the AE gifted position cuts. Mr. Soifer is very concerned with the loss of 40% of the
district’s gifted students. Mr.
Wilson noted this is a long term process and the elementary cuts should
have occurred last year. Mr.
Wilson noted that students are placed into the AE program based solely
upon testing, multiple testing, and an individual IQ of 130 or above.
Paradise pointed out to board members the Summary of General Fund Revenue
by Function. Mr. Paradise
noted that at the same tax rate that the district levies in the present
year the district will receive $1,115,000 more.
Mr. Paradise noted that a mill is now worth $2,000 more, which
represents a 1.3% increase. Mr.
Paradise explained that the real estate taxes fund 71.6% of the total
revenue of the district. Mr.
Paradise directed board members to look at the local revenue sources:
Real estate taxes, current
Real estate taxes, interim
Public Utility tax
Personal and per capita tax
Occupational privilege tax
Real estate transfer taxes
Business Privilege Tax
Delinquencies on Taxes Levied
Income from Investments
Student Activities Fees
Paradise noted that State Revenue Sources will total approximately $24M.
Mr. Wilson noted that mandates and unfunded mandates for special
education from Harrisburg last year the district received $5.3M for
special education and the district expects a $200,000 increase or $5.5M
this year. The program that
is totally mandated by the state is costing the district in excess of
$19M. The state needs to fund
special education programs. The
formula is not based upon the children that the district serves.
The figure is a percentage against regular education numbers in
your school district. Mr.
Wilson advised that the payment to the IU for the programs they run for
the district is approximately $4M. Mr.
Wilson noted that some students are costing the district over $150,000 per
year to educate. Further, Mr.
Wilson noted that the state is not providing any funding for the AE gifted
Paradise noted the allocation of a Fund Balance in the amount of
$3,290,000, which is exactly the same as last year.
Mr. Paradise noted the following:
General Fund Expenditures
Revenue and Fund Balance
as of May 13, 2003
on average residential Assessment ($6770).
Paradise discussed with board members the Poquessing Junior High School
roof issues and due to the winter deterioration, the roof needs
replacement. It was on the
five year plan for replacement next year, however, it must occur.
This is not in the general fund of the budget, but it needs to be
done this summer in order to protect the interior of the building. The district would borrow the cash from the general fund, but
do the work with the understanding that the board is going to float some
kind of debt during the course of this year to deal with not only the
swing loan but the other items on the five year plan.
Butville inquired regarding the Amusement Tax.
Mr. Paradise advised that all possible scenarios are being budgeted
(2% discount, face or 10% penalty).
Paradise asked board members to review the Fund Balance sheet, which was
included in the packages.
Paradise advised that the district was approached by a cell phone tower
company to place an antenna at Everitt Elementary School.
They are offering to pay up front $10,800 per year for a 5 year
term with four (4) five year renewals, and l5% increments after every
fifth year term.
Soifer was concerned that there is money posted, due to the fact that if
the company abandons the tower the district is not left maintaining a
tower or having costs to remove a tower.
was board consensus for Mr. Paradise to explore the options of a cell
tower and review same with the Solicitor.
Wilson noted that the Administration will continue to look at the budget.
Mr. Wilson is willing to not put into the budget any new certified
positions, if the board is in agreement that if new teachers are necessary
due to class size or special education, etc. that a budgetary transfer can
be made during the year. Mr. Wilson stated that it would come back in front of the
board before a position is given out.
Paradise stated that the audited fund balance as of June 30, 2002 is
$7.6M. However, the current
year budget is balanced with $3,290,000 of that fund balance.
Mr. Paradise stated that the District is starting with a Fund
Balance of $4.4M (plus or minus).
Butville inquired regarding sister schooling and Mr. Wilson noted that
there comes a time when sister schooling may become more costly.
Jowett inquired whether Tawanka will be open to outside students.
Mr. Wilson commented that he did not want to add numerous teachers
to expand the program at Tawanka. The
cost of a new teacher is $67,000 with benefits.
If ten students were accepted from the outside the district would
make $30,000, however, there are risks in accepting outside students.
Once the district was assured that our students were taken care of,
the district would consider accepting 8-10 students from other districts
as a revenue source.
Wilson noted that good news is that the IU has inquired regarding renting
the entire wing of the Tawanka building.
Currently the IU is paying $25,000 per classroom.
Mr. Wilson stated it would be a school entity, the district would
know who is coming in and they take care of their own children, own
supervisors, etc. with start-up in September.
Wilson noted that an early retirement plan is a savings for school
Spitz inquired regarding the $600,000 rate reduction for group health
insurance costs and discussion ensued regarding the early retirements and
what savings are incurred by the district.
Paradise stated that the Preliminary Budget will be made public on May 27th
and the board will vote to adopt same.
The Administration, however, will continue to work on cutting the
budget. Mrs. Butville
suggested discussing the elementary computer labs because they will affect
Paradise stressed to board members the need of a good fund balance.
The school district basically lives from the fund balance during
the summer months.
Paradise discussed with board members the prepayment of Blue Cross
premiums, which are required to be paid by August 15th, and Blue Cross
would offer a $500,000 savings. However,
Mr. Paradise looked at the cash flow from last year and advised board
members that the district cannot provide that amount of money by August 15th.
One of the reasons it cannot be accomplished is because the
district’s fund balance is not very large.
Mr. Paradise is cautious when board members are interested in using
more of the fund balance.
Paradise noted that he will discuss the situation with the tax collectors
because on August 25th or 26th the district has
enough to cover the premium, however, on August 15th funds are
not sufficient to provide the premium to Blue Cross.
Jones stated that the deadline date is Thursday, May 15th.
Mr. Paradise stated the premium is approximately $14M to Blue
Cross. Dr. Spitz inquired
whether a 10 day loan could be taken out for the premium in order to save
the district $500,000. Mr.
Paradise advised that an answer needs to be given to Blue Cross by May 15th.
Development for May 27, 2003 Public Meeting
Board Secretary advised that there was no correspondence.
Mr. Soifer moved the meeting be
adjourned and Mrs. Jowett seconded the motion.
The Board unanimously approved the motion.
Mrs. Bostwick adjourned the meeting at 9:45 p.m.
Anita E. Walls