BOARD MEETING MINUTES (WORK
NESHAMINY BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS
June 24, 2003
The Neshaminy Board of
School Directors met in public session on June 24, 2003, at Maple Point
Middle School Board Room. The
following persons were in attendance:
June R. Bostwick, President
Yvonne V. Butville
Ms. Carol A. Drioli**
Mr. Richard M. Eccles
Raymond J. Boccuti
Mr. Richard S. Marotto
Mr. Joseph V. Paradise
Steven E. Schoenstadt
Bruce M. Wyatt
Michael A. Soifer*
William H. Spitz
Mr. Edward T. Stack
Thomas J. Profy, III, Esquire
BOARD MEMBER NOT PRESENT:
Mrs. Kimberly A. Jowett
50 persons from the public, staff and press
Mrs. Anita E. Walls
at 7:15 p.m.
** Left at 7:30 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.
announced that a Public Board Meeting would take place on Thursday, June
26, 2003 at Pearl Buck Elementary School.
Joseph Robb, Langhorne, PA, advised that he was speaking for the 12,000
students under the age of 18 who do not have a voice who will be going
through Neshaminy High School. Mr.
Robb noted that they would not be going through the school, as it exists
today, because something has to be done.
Mr. Robb advised that if the Board plans to renovate over the next
8-10 years 6,000-7,000 students would be jeopardized during the process of
renovation. Mr. Robb posed
the questions: What will you
have if you renovate? What
will you have if you build new? What
are you buying when you renovate? Mr.
Robb noted that when you build new you know exactly what you are buying.
Mr. Robb provided Board members with a handout regarding the
proposals to renovate or build a new high school.
Mr. Robb’s slogan is “build new, build now.”
Brian Lillie, Windham Drive, stated that he would like to see a new high
school built based on the economics presented in the documents comparing
renovation costs and new construction costs.
Mr. Lillie stated that three children of his have already attended
the high school, however, he still feels that new construction is the best
for the taxpayer since it will keep the taxes down over the long haul.
Frank Henninger, Jefferson Avenue, stated that he is for a new school.
Mr. Henninger advised that the costs for a renovated school as
opposed to a new school does not sound right.
A new school is definitely needed to provide the students a chance
at modern technology. The
state would contribute more towards a new school.
Mr. Henninger noted that a renovated building will have a shorter
life expectancy than a new building.
The main reason families move into this area is because of the
school district. The district
needs to offer them modern technology and a school that they can be proud
of. Mr. Henninger noted that it is difficult to see a student come home in
the winter and be cold due to insufficient heat. Mr. Henninger stated that the students cannot be exposed to a
seven year program to renovate a school that cannot be renovated.
Mr. Henninger hopes that a new school will be built.
Howard Lindner, Langhorne, PA, stated that there is no structural damage
at the high school. Mr.
Lindner stated that if renovation is done properly it will do the job. Mr. Lindner stated that you do not know what you are buying.
Mr. Lindner discussed the wording of a binding referendum.
Mr. Lindner proposed the following wording: “Do you approve of
obtaining a $100M bond issue to pay for new high school and the repair of
other school buildings in Neshaminy School District?”
Mr. Lindner noted that the majority of the people have spoken.
Mr. Lindner further stated that there is mistrust in the community.
Mr. Lindner urged the Board to think of the taxpayers.
Students get their education by hiring competent teachers.
Mr. Lindner noted that is the key to education.
Solis Basen, Langhorne, PA, stated that he feels the 20% of the people who
voted at the last election was significant.
Mr. Basen noted that if the survey is done it needs to be addressed
to every taxpayer in the district and not just randomly. Mr. Basen advised that the public deserves credibility.
Debbie McGuckin, Langhorne, PA, stated that she is in attendance on behalf
of herself and the Herbert Hoover community.
Mrs. McGuckin stated that they do not believe that the recent
election was indicative of how the majority of the community feels about
the new high school issue. One
thing people need to be aware of is that no matter what is done, build a
new high school or refurbish the old high school, taxes are going up.
Mrs. McGuckin stated that a new high school needs to be built.
The architects are telling us that even if $40M is put into the old
high school to fix what needs to be fixed a new high school will still be
needed in about 15-20 years. If $85M is used for a new high school it will last the
community 50-60 years. Mrs.
McGuckin noted that when she does her household finances she looks into
the future to see how her decisions today will affect the future.
Mrs. McGuckin feels that is what needs to be done in this
situation. Mrs. McGuckin
advised that the Board will be neglecting their responsibilities if they
don’t build a new high school. The
investment into a new high school is an investment in the children, and an
investment in the children is an investment in the future.
Maryann Boyd, Levittown, PA, is a resident of Cobalt Ridge since 1972 and
her sisters and brothers went to Neshaminy School District. Mrs. Boyd is a mother of two students in the district.
Mrs. Boyd is the President of Walter Miller Elementary School PTO
and she is in attendance as the voice of all the silent parents who do not
attend the meetings. Mrs.
Boyd noted that 90% of the parents are for building a new high school.
Mrs. Boyd noted that many of the residents are uninformed and
misinformed. Mrs. Boyd works
in a local restaurant, and asked some elderly patrons, and they stated
that if the taxes go up don’t do it, however, Mrs. Boyd made them aware
that the taxes will increase even if a new high school is not built.
Renovations will also incur a tax increase.
Mrs. Boyd noted that contrary to what some might say younger
families also live on a budget, pay mortgages, car payments, life
insurance, medical bills, etc. Mrs. Boyd noted that our education is not measured by what
the school looks like, but that the school is a safe place for the
students. Mrs. Boyd advised
that the younger families will be around in the Neshaminy School District
for the next twenty years and will be paying these school taxes.
Mrs. Boyd would like to see accountability for everything that goes
on in the schools, starting from maintenance, teachers, principals,
administrators, and the school board.
Soifer arrived at 7:15 p.m.
Pat Mervine, Langhorne, PA, advised that she is a parent of a 2000
graduate of Neshaminy High School and has been very active within the
school district and has spent countless hours in the building.
Mrs. Mervine has personal experiences that swayed her view.
Mrs. Mervine is in favor of building a new high school for the
Hodgepodge of hallways and corridors
Students regularly go outside (in all
weather) to cross the campus to avoid the crowded hallways to get to class
When classes change taxpayer money is
lost with the heat loss due to the inefficient design.
Exterior doors are of great concern
after the Columbine incident. There
is no way to monitor all the exterior doors or lock them down should there
ever be an emergency that requires same.
Outdated wiring does not handle modest
Plugging in a coffee urn after
concerts will throw the circuit breakers.
Events are delayed due to inadequate
electrical systems (Jazz Festival was delayed due to stadium lights being
Mervine stated that no matter what decision is made a lot of money will be
spent. Mrs. Mervine would
much rather have her money spent building a well designed, new school
effectively addressing the very important issues that exist, rather than
placing a very expensive bandaid on an existing inadequate building.
Dombach, Langhorne, PA, stated that the Board members are the elected
leaders of the community and they need to follow what they say is the
right thing to do. Mr.
Dombach stated that just because 20% of the people voted, the Board is
scared to make the right decision. Mr.
Dombach feels that a decision was made and the Board needs to stick to its
guns and follow through. Mr.
Dombach stated that if renovations occur his daughter will have to suffer
to deal with all the renovations. Mr.
Dombach noted that the teachers must also be considered and it is
important that they are certified. Teachers
are the key to making better students.
Mr. Dombach noted that even though it is said that Neshaminy is
number one, the test scores and SAT scores do not show that.
Mr. Dombach noted that he is one of the 80% that did not vote,
however, he thought a new high school was being built.
Schieber, Langhorne, PA, stated that he is opposed to building a new high
school. Mr. Schieber noted
that he lives in America and in a democratic republic a vote counts.
Mr. Schieber finds it incredulous that the Board is going forward
with the items on the agenda. Mr.
Schieber noted that the fight will continue, and other options still exist
and will need to be exercised.
Thorpe, Langhorne, PA, stated that the fact that the school is cold and
the roofs are leaking is the neglect of the school boards for the past
forty years. The architect
who already has received $1.5M would be a fool to say that building a new
school would not be the way to go. Mr.
Thorpe noted that the architect is not the person to go to now with
questions. Mr. Thorpe stated
that an independent person needs to examine the entire situation, someone
that has nothing to gain, no contract and the guarantee that they would
not be called upon to do the work. Mr.
Thorpe noted that maintenance will always be a problem.
5. Items for Discussion
Possible High School Survey
Drioli stated that she only wished that the people present who support the
high school did go out and vote. Ms.
Drioli believes that the vote counts.
Ms. Drioli noted people stating that the teachers provide the
education, not the facility that Neshaminy is presently third, shows the
teachers are obviously not doing what they are getting paid to do.
Ms. Drioli stated that Mr. Lindner who is a teacher of 34 years
plus believes the teachers are what make the district. Ms. Drioli might
suggest that they are also not doing their job as well since Neshaminy is
currently rated third. Ms.
Drioli will not support anything, which will cost the District at this
point and time any more money. Ms.
Drioli wished that supporters of the referendum would know the facts.
Ms. Drioli believes that this group will come up with an
injunction. The courts and
the solicitor will benefit from this situation.
Ms. Drioli noted that the architect who was hired was as
independent as could be desired. The
architect has no connection to anyone in this district or state.
Drioli stated that she cannot support a survey.
The people were given the chance to vote, and Ms. Drioli is sorry
that all the people did not exercise their right.
Ms. Drioli noted that she still believes the new school is the
option for the taxpayer, however, Ms. Drioli believes in the vote, and
because of the vote she cannot support the new high school.
Also, Ms. Drioli cannot support a referendum.
Schoenstadt stated that an Act 34 hearing is a public meeting to identify
all of the circumstances, costs, construction, etc.
The law states that the district must wait a minimum of twenty (20)
days after the board takes a vote in order to notify the public as to the
hearing, what it is about, etc. The
Act 34 hearing is designed by law to bring to the public all of the
questions, information and costs, etc. that have been presented to the
Board over the last 2 1/2 years.
Eccles noted that thirty (30) days after the Act 34 hearing takes place
the Board can vote to build or not to build a new high school.
Mr. Eccles noted that at the present time the Board could not take
a vote to build a new high school. The
Act 34 hearing must take place prior to a vote.
Eccles stated that this Board should cease any direction towards a new
high school or renovation at this time and let the new Board take over in
December 2003. Four School Board members are in agreement to bring in an
independent third party engineer or contractor, with no contractual
Butville noted that two (2) architectural firms have gone through the
school and have given the district their ideas.
This has already been paid for.
Mrs. Butville questioned why a third company should come in and
more money be spent.
Eccles stated that this is a democratic process and his opinion is what
the voters tell him to do. Mr.
Eccles wished that the numbers were not 8 to l against a new school, that
it was 8 to l in favor.
Soifer noted that the architects have been chosen and a contract has been
signed and obligations have been made.
Mr. Soifer is not convinced that just because interest rates are at
an all time low that this is the best time to go forward.
Mr. Soifer believes that if a referendum were to be placed on the
ballot it should occur during a presidential election because that ensures
the maximum turnout of voters.
believes that the past primary election was a farce because when the voter
goes to vote they should have an understanding of what they will get from
the person they are voting for. No
plans have been put forth by the four candidates to suggest what will be
done at the high school. The
only thing that has been stated is that there is a need for a referendum,
and the only thing a referendum will do is keep the district from doing
something. A referendum will
not provide a solution at the high school.
Mr. Stack believes that the survey will provide the public with
details both in favor of a new school and/or doing renovations.
Mr. Stack questioned why that information should not be provided to
the public in order that they may evaluate same and then make a decision.
Mr. Stack supports a survey, which is a means of putting the
information in front of the people to make a decision.
Mr. Stack feels that Region 3 had no choice.
Four candidates stated that they were in favor of a referendum, but
not one of those candidates has come forth with what their alternative
plans would cost.
Soifer is concerned about the information that will be placed in the
survey material and its length in order that the voters can make an
noted that BASCO provided five (5) options, ATS&R provided four (4)
options, however based on the discussions that have taken place it has
boiled down to new school or some form of renovation.
Dr. Spitz noted that if a survey is done it must be practical in
length and it will be distributed to every resident in this community, and
Dr. Spitz is convinced that the turnout will be more then l5% or 20%.
Bostwick questioned why the BASCO information should even be included on
the survey. Dr. Spitz
responded that BASCO has provided valuable information.
Butville noted that the information, which would be provided on the
survey, will be much more information than what would be provided on a
referendum question. Mrs.
Butville is against the referendum for that reason since a person can vote
yes or no, however, not have any background information or understanding
Eccles feels that if presented properly with a referendum the new school
would be built. However,
there is a lack of distrust and that is evident by the public.
Mr. Eccles noted that at the 22 informational meetings there was
very little community involvement. Mr.
Eccles noted that by going ahead with this process the Board is turning
their heads on the democratic process.
Mr. Eccles feels that this present Board should abandon the process
and it should be continued next year.
Butville commented that the school does not stop, it is still
deteriorating and still something needs to be done.
This project has been discussed for ten years and was put on a
timeline and the time is here to make a decision.
Eccles would like to see a third party evaluate the situation and then the
jobs can be put out to bid.
Soifer feels that it is wrong that just because there is an election
upcoming that any Board should cease to function and wait.
For a Board to sit and do nothing and wait for the new Board
members to take office is ridiculous.
The current Board members would be totally aggregating their
responsibilities. Mr. Soifer noted that he will not sit on a Board and do
Soifer is concerned with the amount of money that would be spent on a
survey, what will be the response rate and will it be beneficial.
advised that the cost of a survey would be approximately $30,000 -
Schoenstadt stated that nine members of this Board voted to approve the
architect. Mr. Schoenstadt
advised that the architect’s presentation was clear and concise,
outlining costs, holding meetings with community members and focus groups,
teachers and administrators, etc. with Board approval.
Mr. Schoenstadt expressed concern that when politicians in the
community realized that it was going to be a single prime, there was not
going to be a local architect and that the architect chosen out of his fee
was going to pay for a local architect from Doylestown who had worked on
several other projects with ATS&R, that the pool of money, graft and
political patronage was going to be dried up, and when the politicians
became aware of these facts that is when the politicians began coming out.
Mr. Schoenstadt noted that this Board needs to make some hard
decisions or if that does not occur a year or two from now this district
will find multiple prime contractors and local architects who know nothing
about high school construction. Mr.
Schoenstadt advised that ATS& R is ranked the number one educational
architect in the United States by their association.
feels that if a survey was performed and a reasonable response (70%-80%)
was received either in favor or against a new high school then the Board
could act accordingly. Dr.
Spitz feels that a broad response can be received by distributing a
commented that he would like to see the survey distributed, and also the
Act 34 hearing take place, however, the survey results need to be received
in advance of when the Act 34 hearing would occur.
Butville noted that this Board was elected by the community to represent
the community, to delve into the material and do what is in the best
interest of the community. Mrs.
Butville feels that every single member of the Board feels that a new
building is the right way to proceed for this community.
Whether or not each Board member supports the new building due to
what has been said by the public, each Board member has stated that after
reviewing the material a new building is still best for the community.
Act 34 Discussion
Boccuti advised that an advertisement period of twenty (20) days needs to
take place prior to the Act 34 Hearing, but just before that occurs, the
Pennsylvania Department of Education approval on the agenda needs to be
received. That approval can
be received in as little as three to four days.
Boccuti advised that the single prime issue that Mr. Schoenstadt was
referring to needs to be corrected. Just
recently, within the past few weeks, a court case has determined that
single prime waivers will no longer be considered by the Department of
advised that the Department of Education withdrew from the litigation and
has formally announced that it will no longer issue single prime waivers.
Boccuti advised that ATS&R was considering a separate prime for the
asbestos. Dr. Boccuti also
learned that the architectural fee for Act 34 hearings would be no cost or
very little cost. Everything
that would be required for the Act 34 hearing by the architect has already
been accomplished. The only
costs would be to assemble same in the format required by the Act 34.
Discussions are still ongoing regarding single prime/multiple
Eccles recommended that the Neshaminy Board meetings be televised,
providing the general public the opportunity to tune in and listen to
learn more about the on goings in the District.
Mr. Eccles feels that it would help those members of the community
who cannot attend Board meetings.
Boccuti advised that he is currently the facilitator of the Technology
Committee and the concept has been discussed and is under investigation
what technology would be required to broadcast same.
Eccles stated that it does not need to be a live Channel 10 broadcast,
however, two video cameras could be placed in the board room and same
could be taped and the public could watch same.
Schoenstadt agrees that the time has come for Board meetings to be
televised. Mr. Schoenstadt noted that 90% of the Board work occurs at
Work Sessions which take place at Maple Point.
At the public meetings approval of the action items discussed at
the Work Session takes place. Mr.
Schoenstadt noted that a significant amount of money was paid for a TV
studio to be built at the high school.
A curriculum program exists and this would allow the students to
create something functional and productive in their curriculum.
Paradise noted that it is technically feasible to broadcast live from the
Board Room at Maple Point. Mr.
Paradise noted, however, that if it is to be done right cameras should be
mounted, microphones installed, manpower is necessary.
Mr. Paradise stated that it is certainly accomplishable.
Mr. Paradise noted that either way the meeting would be taped live;
therefore, it would not be cheaper to videotape the meeting.
would like to see televised meetings be placed on the agenda for the next
distributed a sample survey to all Board members and was interested in
knowing whether there would be Board support to perform the survey.
was in favor of the survey with the Act 34 hearing taking place after the
survey results are received.
Soifer raised the concern that vacation periods were approaching and would
the survey reach the maximum number of community members.
Mr. Soifer suggested that it might be best to wait until September
when students were back in school and the community would have returned
advised that an independent third party would be hired to tabulate the
results. Dr. Costanzo has
contacted a few companies to see what would be involved.
Eccles feels that the wording of the survey and the packaging of the
survey could sway the response rate.
Mr. Eccles noted that there is a lot of scientific data that could
stack the deck on a survey. Dr.
Spitz noted that for that reason the incoming Board members and Mr. Eccles
were invited to participate and provide input into the survey.
Dr. Spitz urged Board members to look over the draft survey and
provide any comments.
Schoenstadt stated that he is not in favor of a survey, however, as long
as it is done simultaneously with the Act 34 hearing and the results come
in from the survey prior to the decision that is made.
members discussed where an Act 34 hearing could take place, when, the
length of the hearing, etc.
advised that in all cases a public hearing shall be held not later than
thirty (30) days before the school district submits the initial building
cost estimates to the Department of Education for approval.
Notice of the hearing shall be given not less then twenty (20) days
before the date of the scheduled hearing.
Bostwick advised that the district is allowed by law to have one (1) Act
34 Hearing. Dr. Boccuti
advised that after checking with PA Department of Education the district
could hold as many public information meetings as desired, however, only
one (1) Act 34 Hearing.
advised that a motion would be required at the Thursday meeting regarding
the survey and Act 34 Hearing.
Butville asked that the Courier Times reporter make note of the change in
the agenda for Thursday night’s meeting.
Further, Mrs. Butville would like to have the Act 34 Hearing before
the survey results are received. The
public would like to attend the Act 34 Hearing to receive more information
and then complete the survey.
advised that the meeting, which was held last Tuesday, provided a lot of
information to the community. Mr.
Stack would be willing to have another informational meeting after the
survey has been mailed to have open dialogue and provide further
advised that the Act 34 Hearing needs to be advertised not less then
twenty (20) days before the hearing.
Mr. Profy advised regarding the procedural aspects the Board will
need to back into the Act 34 hearing date by either:
having the survey results in hand and
tabulated before the hearing
run both concurrently
advised that a public hearing shall be held not later then thirty (30)
days before the school district submits the initial building cost
estimates to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for approval.
Mr. Profy questioned whether those estimates were available.
Dr. Boccuti advised that Plancon A & B are in the process of
being approved. Final details
were provided by the district and approval is expected any day.
Dr. Boccuti noted that the architects have advised that everything
that would be required for the Act 34 Hearing is complete and just needs
to be assembled.
Bostwick advised that the agenda change will also include assessment
appeals, which have been presented to the Solicitor’s office.
Said appeals need to be filed with the Court on or before August
lst. Mr. Schoenstadt
questioned the Levitz Furniture appeal.
Mr. Profy advised that the appeal has not been settled.
Mr. Profy noted that a meeting was had with the prior solicitor and
that matter was turned over for review.
advised that the Neshaminy Education Foundation has wanted to pursue the
idea of an alumni directory to help fundraising.
Harris Publishing has provided a proposal, which basically provides
a database at no cost to the district.
Harris makes their money by selling directories to alumni.
Dr. Spitz advised that the district is under a very tight deadline
because the proposal needs to be executed by the end of the week.
Dr. Spitz advised that he will be speaking with the solicitor in
the upcoming days in order to have changes made to the language in the
agreement. Harris would have
access to the district’s records of names and addresses of students over
the past fifty years. Dr.
Spitz noted that the legal question in the past has been regarding privacy
violations. Dr. Spitz advised
that after discussion with Mr. Profy that is not really an issue.
Soifer questioned whether this directory could not be formed in house by
possible alumni themselves, instead of using an outside company.
Dr. Spitz advised that Harris is a professional company that does
advised that the Education Foundation is interested in the database names
in order to solicit contributions.
Eccles questioned whether it would be beneficial to setup another
Foundation that the Board would have control of in order to put the funds
toward i.e. the stadium, pool, etc. Mr.
Eccles noted that the district could possibly come into thousands of
dollars if this directory and database are formed.
noted that the district would receive some royalties from the sale of a
certain number of directories; however, it is not a lot of money. Dr. Spitz advised that Harris is responsible for selling the
directories at a cost of approximately $69.00.
Dr. Spitz questioned whether the contract should be between Harris
and the Education Foundation or Harris and Neshaminy School District.
advised that the school district will be providing the information to
Harris. Mr. Profy noted that
Harris does not have the right to sell the list of names to any other
entity. However, each former
student who purchases a directory will have everyone’s name, address,
e-mail, etc. That information
will become part of the public domain.
Schoenstadt advised that on the website classmates.com there is already a
list of students from Neshaminy who have opted to be part of the list
along with other school districts throughout the state.
commented that the issue of the windfall from the directory should be
secondary at this point in time. Whether
the district or the foundation controls the database, depending on who
signs the contract, then the decision can be made whether to give access
to the foundation to solicit funds or does the district want to solicit
Kostar noted that classes in the late 50’s, 60’s and 70’s all have
databases with the names and addresses and there are probably 15-20
classes that have websites.
noted that after considering the discussion the contract should be between
Harris and the School District, since the records belong to the district
and the district will be providing the information.
board consensus to move forward.
Items for Approval
Paradise presented the following for approval:
Bid No. 03-29 Data Center Electrical Upgrade
Bid Amount: $26,504.00
03-31 Data Center Electrical Upgrade
Budget Transfer Report 03-8 (Working Copy).
Revised to add a second budget transfer to transfer the balance of
the money out of the reserve account in order to provide for the last bill
of the architect.
two bids and Budget Transfer Report No. 03-8 (Working Copy) will be
presented for approval at the June 26th Public Meeting.
Board Secretary advised that there was no correspondence.
Other Board Business
Butville advised that there are still 30 freshman slots overall open at
the Technical School. Neshaminy
only has two (2) slots left.
Stack noted that a fee structure and printing costs were distributed to
all board members regarding the survey.
Adjournment of Meeting
Spitz moved the meeting be adjourned and Mrs. Butville seconded the
motion. The Board unanimously approved the motion.
Mrs. Bostwick adjourned the meeting at 9:15 p.m.
Anita E. Walls