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May 13, 2003

The Neshaminy Board of School Directors met in public session on May 13, 2003, at Maple Point Middle School 
Board Room.  The following persons were in attendance:





Mrs. June R. Bostwick, President

Mr. P. Howard Wilson

Mrs. Kimberly A. Jowett, Vice-President
Mrs. Yvonne V. Butville
Ms. Carol A. Drioli*

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

Mr. Richard M. Eccles

Mr. Joseph V. Paradise

Mr. Steven E. Schoenstadt

Mr. Bruce M. Wyatt

Mr. Michael A. Soifer
Dr. William H. Spitz


Mr. Edward T. Stack

OTHERS:  Approximately 41 persons from the public, staff and press

SECRETARY:  Mrs. Anita E. Walls


 *Arrived at 7:10 p.m. and left at 8:00 p.m.



l.  Call to Order

Mrs. Bostwick called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

2. Pledge of Allegiance

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

3. Board Recognition

Mr. 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 Begley, 
Neil Harner, Avinish Rajput, Richard Petillo, Matthew Piccione, Phil Halikias, Demtri Pavalchin, Amar Patel, Cecilia Olmo.  

4.    Announcements

No Announcements 

5. Public Comment

Mrs. 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.

Mr. Gil 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. Howland�s 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.

Mr. 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. 

Ms. 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. 

Mr. Kevin 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. 

Mr. George Garrison, resident of Middletown Township since 1953, inquired what each board members position was regarding the new high school. 

Mrs. Bostwick noted that any board comment will be made after public comment.

Mr. Myrl 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.

Mr. Solis Basen, Flowers Mills resident turned over his three minute public comment time to Mr. Phil Schieber.

Mr. Phil 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.

Mrs. 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.

Mr. Dan 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. 

Mrs. 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.

Dr. 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. 

Dr. 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.

Mr. 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.

Mr. 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.

Ms. 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. 

Mr. 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.

Mr. Stack 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:

“Twelve 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!  

Twelve 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.

The 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 10-15 years.

Who are 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!”

Mrs. 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.  

Mrs. 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. 

6.  Items for Approval

a.  Motion:  Appointment of Solicitor

Mrs. Jowett 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.

Additionally, the enclosures shall also be adopted with this appointment.

Mr. 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 abstentions.

The board unanimously approved the motion.

b.  Motion:  PLANCON Part A and Part B

Mr. Schoenstadt presented the following motion:

WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania Department of Education requires certain steps be taken for the school district renovations or construction; and

WHEREAS, prior to scheduling an Act 34 hearing, PLANCON Part A and B must be approved for submission to the Department.

NOW, 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.

Mrs. Jowett seconded the motion.

Ms. 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. 

Mr. 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. 

Mrs. Butville advised that the Act 34 public meeting cannot be held without the submission of the Plancon A & B to the state.

Mrs. 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).

Mrs. Drioli left the meeting at 8:00 p.m.

7.  Items for Discussions

a)       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.

b)     Possible short term loan for elementary computer labs and district services

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.

Mr. 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.

Mr. 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.

8.  Items for Approval

a)       Overnight Trips

i)                    Neshaminy Middle School and Neshaminy High School, Future Problem Solving Competition – University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut – June 5-8, 2003.

ii)                  Neshaminy High School Future Business Leaders National Competition, Dallas, Texas – June 22-28, 2003.

Mr. 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 past years.

There was board consensus for the students to attend.  Ms. Drioli was not present.

b)       Termination of Lower Bucks County School Authority

Mr. 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, 2003.

c)       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.

d)       2003-2004 Preliminary Budget

(To be discussed later in the meeting)

e)       Bids/Budget Transfers

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

Bid No. 04-08 Science Supplies

Bid Amount:  $13,557.03

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

                Bid No. 04-09 Classroom & Art Aids

                Bid Amount:  $36,468.14

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

            The two bids and Budget Transfer Report No. 03-7 (Working Copy) will be presented for approval at the May 27th Public Meeting.

9.        Superintendent’s Report


10.     Committee Reports

a)       Board Policies

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. 

Mrs. 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.

b)       Educational Development

Dr. 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.

c)       Finance/Facilities

Mr. Soifer advised there was no report. 

d)       IU Board

No report.

e)       Educational Foundation

Dr. 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.

f)        Technical School

Mrs. 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.

Dr. 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.

g)       Technology

No report.

11.     Future Topics


The 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.

Discussions 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. 

Dr. 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.

Mr. 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

·         Amusement tax

·         Business Privilege Tax

·         Mercantile Tax

·         Delinquencies on Taxes Levied

·         Income from Investments

·         Student Activities Fees

Mr. 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 program.

Mr. 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:

Total General Fund Expenditures


Total Revenue and Fund Balance


Gap as of May 13, 2003




Required Additional Mills


Increase on average residential Assessment ($6770).

Mr. 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. 

Mrs. Butville inquired regarding the Amusement Tax.  Mr. Paradise advised that all possible scenarios are being budgeted (2% discount, face or 10% penalty). 

Mr. Paradise asked board members to review the Fund Balance sheet, which was included in the packages. 

Mr. 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. 

Mr. 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.

There was board consensus for Mr. Paradise to explore the options of a cell tower and review same with the Solicitor. 

Mr. 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.

Mr. 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).

Mrs. Butville inquired regarding sister schooling and Mr. Wilson noted that there comes a time when sister schooling may become more costly. 

Mrs. 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. 

Mr. 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.

Mr. Wilson noted that an early retirement plan is a savings for school districts. 

Dr. 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. 

Mr. 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 the budget. 

Mr. 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. 

Mr. 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. 

Mr. 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.

Mr. 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.  

12.Agenda Development for May 27, 2003 Public Meeting


The 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.

Respectively submitted,

Anita E. Walls
Board Secretary


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