Board recognizes students, discusses several action items

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LANSDALE- The NPSB held an action meeting Thursday night where they recognized the Bridle Path and Montgomery Elementary Select Strings as well as the NMTCC Horticulture Students. In addition, they heard from a concerned parent about a recent health presentation at Pennbrook, and discussed the 2019-2020 real estate tax rebate program and Crawford Stadium renovations.

The Board began by recognizing students of the Bridle Path and Montgomery Elementary select strings for being selected to perform at a conference in Chicago last December.

Sameera Rachakonda
The Board recognized students of Bridle Path and Montgomery Select Strings for being invited to perform at the Midwest Clinic last December.

“It is the premier music conference in the world with a very rigorous audition. It’s quite an honor to be invited, and this is actually the third time this group has been invited,” Bridle Path and Montgomery Elementary Orchestra Director Mr. Ralph Jackson remarked.

The Board also recognized students from the North Montco Technical Career Center Horticultural program for their accomplishments at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show.

“One of the really great educational values of having the students participate in this is that they have very specific criteria, so not only does it give them a chance to be creative, it’s a great exercise in following directions,” Ms. Patty Miller, the Horticulture instructor, explained.

Following the recognitions, the Board held an Audience of Citizens where they heard from a mother about a health presentation given at Pennbrook earlier that day. The presentation was about healthy relationships, however the speaker described girls as “treasures and targets” and men as “warriors or wolves”. The speaker also made a comment that same sex marriage wasn’t meant to last and speculated that a girl was harassed due to her choice of clothing.

Sameera Rachakonda
The Board recognized NMTCC Horticulture students for their accomplishments in the PA State Farm Show.

“It’s misogynistic, homophobic, and violates Title 9. This has to be shut down, it can’t go on tomorrow,” the mother expressed to the Board.

Moving forward, the Board heard each committee report. During the finance report, one of the items discussed was that Jay Himes, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, presented the business office with the Meritorious Budget Award from ASBO International for the 2018-19 year. North Penn is 1 of only 11 districts in the state to obtain this award. The ECP committee discussed the PAYS survey which was approved later that night.

After hearing the rest of the committee reports, the Board moved on to the Superintendent’s Report. All items on the report were approved with debate over the 2019-20 Real Estate Tax Rebate Program and the authorization for additional design work on Crawford Stadium.

The recommend approval of the 2019-20 real estate tax rebate program was debated for the decision to reflect an amount of 30% rather than 40%. Board Director Ed Diasio motioned to revise the resolution to 40%.

“I do think we need to do more to support our seniors who are probably the group who’s going to have the hardest time meeting their obligations with a higher and higher and increasingly burdening tax obligation,” Diasio commented.

Other Board members noted that discussion over the program was already held during several finance committee meetings, and that supporting the senior citizen population of the district was important to them.

“We are absolutely as concerned as you about our most vulnerable citizens. We discussed it multiple times at the finance committee that you chair and it was recommended to bring it to approval now, so I don’t understand why you’re trying to change it last minute,” Board President Tina Stoll responded to Diasio’s remark.

The Board held a roll call vote over revising the resolution. Board Director Jenna Ott abstained from the vote due to her want for additional information, and Board Directors Theresa Prykowski and Ed Diasio voted for revising the resolution. The motion to revise was defeated, and the real estate tax rebate program for the following year was approved.

Another issue that sparked discussion was the motion to approve additional work on Crawford Stadium. The concern from a few Board Directors was that the Board was prioritizing the stadium project over another significant renovation in the district, Knapp Elementary.

“I can’t in good faith prioritize the stadium over the Knapp renovations. I’m going to vote no on this, and I’m opposed to spending additional funds on this project,” Diasio expressed.

“I think it’s disingenuous to continue to state that our priorities for the stadium are ahead of Knapp students and their families. I would ask Mr. Diasio when student safety, when the safety of visitors, and the whole student experience, which is a part of an excellent education at NPSD, when is that going to become a priority and we finally update the 1971 facilities we have for athletics while we continue to also make sure Knapp is a top priority,” Board Director Jonathan Kassa replied.

With a final vote of 6-3, the motion carried and was approved.

The Board then heard from Mr. Stephen Skrocki regarding the finance report. Skrocki and the finance office was congratulated as the real estate tax rebate program won the prestigious 2019 Award of Achievement from the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. The Board also approved the budget transfers for February which totaled $375,265.53 as well as the sanction and approval of invoices for the ratification of disbursements for the month of February in the amount of $29,460,327.20.

Under other business, the April Action meeting, which was originally scheduled for Thursday, April 18, was moved to Tuesday, April 16 at 7:00 pm. Before adjourning, the Board heard from an audience member about the issues discussed during the meeting.

The next School Board meeting will be a work session meeting and will take place Tuesday April 9th at 7:30 PM in the Educational Services Center.