Tuesday, December 30, 2008

District eyes smooth transition

With 9th grade moving up to the high school next year, the district has undertaken efforts to prep middle schoolers for the transition. Today's Courier Times has an article highlighting a symposium held by the district designed to ease the transition and to address any questions or concerns the students may have.

My greatest concern for next year remains the building capacity of the high school which is still estimated to be in the low/mid 90 percent range. Ideally building capacity should be in the mid 80's to allow for maximum flexibility of class scheduling. When a building gets too crowded, flexibility is limited and so are the class choices available to students.

During one of our recent Town Hall meetings, board member Bill Spitz questioned the wisdom of possible relocation of the alternate education (Tawanka) program to the high school BELC area next year when we may need that space for student overflow. Business manager Joe Paradise countered that we could still relocate the alt ed program to the BELC, and we could also delay moving Facilities and Purchasing up to the BELC for another year or so if necessary to allow for student overflow. Spitz asked for additional enrollment projections for next year to see if Paradise's plan would provide sufficient space for students.

There is no doubt that it will be crowded at the high school next year. The important question is how much impact will it have on the students?

SEC Reverses Opinion

Neshaminy's solicitor, Tom Profy, advised the board of a recent ruling by the PA State Ethics Commission regarding board members participating in labor negotiations when they have a family member employed by the district. The SEC has reversed its earlier opinion and now states that board members can participate in negotiations under such circumstances. This means that Joe Blasch and I can now be involved in the negotiations with the teachers if we so choose.

I can't speak for Mr. Blasch, but I don't anticipate being involved in the active negotiations but rather will remain updated on developments and offer my opinions to those board members who are on the negotiating committee.

Committee Appointments

Newly elected Board President Rich Webb announced his committee appointments for 2009. Below is a partial listing of the committees:

Board Policies: Irene Boyle (Chair), William O'Connor, Susan Cummings
Education Development: Bill Spitz (Chair), Susan Cummings, William O'Connor, Joe Blasch
Finance & Facilities: Rich Webb (Chair), Frank Koziol, Bill Spitz, Kim Koutsouradis
Technology Committee: Joe Blasch (Chair), William O'Connor, Bill Spitz
Negotiations (Certified Staff): Rich Webb (Chair), Frank Koziol, Irene Boyle, Bill Spitz
Negotiations (Support Staff): Frank Koziol (Chair), Joe Blasch, Irene Boyle, Rick Eccles

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fire them!

That's what Neshaminy resident Larry Pastor, Jr. said should happen to teachers if they should strike against the district. Mr. Pastor also said that the board should withdraw its current contract offer to the teachers and reduce it.

You can read all that Mr. Pastor had to say in this Courier Times Guest Opinion.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Let's try this again

Prior to Monday's Strategic Planning session, the Board will meet to appoint a vice president to serve under Rich Webb. Both meetings are open to the public beginning at 7pm at Herbert Hoover.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Well, that was different

Customarily a new president and vice president are named at a reorg meeting, but only half of that formula was present at tonight's event. After Rich Webb was named president by a 5-4 vote (supporting votes were Cummings, Eccles, Koutsouradis, Koziol, Webb), the board failed to reach a consensus on vice president. After three sets of votes for the nominees (Blasch, Koutsouradis, Koziol) failed to produce a winner, the board agreed to revisit the VP spot at its first meeting of 2009.

In other moments of interest, the law firm of Begley, Carlin and Mandio was once again approved as solicitor by a 6-3 margin (affirmative votes from Boyle, Cummings, Eccles, Koutsouradis, Koziol and Webb). And former Neshaminy educator Howard Lindner spoke up at public comment to take shots at our former superintendent, Paul Kadri, until Mr. Webb asked him to move on.

It was announced that the board's Strategic Planning Committee will meet next Monday, December 8th, at Hoover beginning at 7pm.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reorg meeting on Monday

Will the Neshaminy school board stay the course or chart a new direction in 2009? That question will be answered in part on Monday night at the annual reorganization meeting which takes place in the Board Room at Maple Point beginning at 7pm. The meeting doesn't usually last very long, but the repercussions of who is elected president and vice president will set the tone for the upcoming year. Public attendance is welcome and encouraged.

If you have strong feelings about who should (or should not) be elected to a board leadership role, now would be a good time to contact your elected officials and make your feelings known.

Kadri era officially over

With board approval, Lou Muenker took over as acting superintendent this past Tuesday evening. Muenker replaces Paul Kadri, who left Neshaminy to become superintendent of a school district in Groton, CT.

Click here to read the Courier Times article.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Board Policies Meeting Change

Tonight's meeting of the Board Policies Committee has been moved up to 5:15pm to accommodate an executive session of the board. The public meeting is still scheduled for 7pm.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Alt Ed program – it’s a brainer

What to do with the Alternative Education program at Tawanka? That is perhaps the most challenging question among many that we have to deal with, and there is no easy answer. Consider the pro’s and con’s of the matter . . .

The program is educationally successful, saving an estimated 12 students or more each year from dropping out of high school, and helping dozens of others to succeed. At the same time, the program is expensive and costs more than if we sent the students to facilities outside of the district.

While there are other successful programs outside of the district that we could send our students to, we run the risk that they could be lumped in with students having more serious disciplinary and/or emotional issues. Unquestionably our ability to manage which students are enrolled in Neshaminy’s Alt Ed program is a significant factor in its success.

So here is the challenge: Can we move the Alt Ed program currently residing at Tawanka to another facility within the district that can operate the program more efficiently? That very topic was discussed this past Monday evening at a Strategic Planning Committee meeting, and district administration had an out-of-the-box alternative they presented – renovate and utilize space up at the BELC area of the high school to house the program.

I was very hesitant about this idea when I first heard of it, but a compelling case was made for its consideration (there are a few ugly aspects to this idea that administration has to work out before I could fully support it). I also believe the renovate Eisenhower idea is a viable option for the Alt Ed program that warrants further consideration; I am not a fan of sticking this program at other school facilities like Maple Point or Sandburg/Schweitzer.

You can learn more about the BELC option by reading
this Courier Times article.

Courier Times: Teachers should pay for benefits, open up negotiations

Today’s Courier Times editorial touches upon a couple of old favorites – teacher benefits and open contract negotiations. While the editorial may not be breaking any new ground, it’s worth a look.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Here today, gone tomorrow

As reported by the Courier Times, Neshaminy superintendent Paul Kadri’s last day on the job is today, Monday November 17th. He will soon be joining his new school district in Groton, CT.

Assistant Superintendent Lou Muenker will serve as acting superintendent until a search can be conducted to identify Kadri’s replacement.

Saying goodbye to Paul Kadri

It’s been a tumultuous couple of years for Mr. Kadri, but despite the challenges he can say that he left Neshaminy better off than when he arrived. Our PSSA test scores are up, spending is down, and not since Gary Bowman have we seen a superintendent so involved in the day-to-day lives of our children.

This post is devoted to saying goodbye to Paul Kadri, and I invite you to add any kind, parting thoughts you would like to share with him.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Alt Ed program on the move?

Maintaining an alternative education program at Tawanka has been both educationally successful and expensive. Often the topic of debate, the Alt Ed program comes under scrutiny once again during Monday’s Strategic Action Committee meeting at Lower South Elementary (November 17th, 7pm). In an effort to maintain the Alt Ed program more economically, the Board will discuss potential relocation of the program to the BELC area of the high school.

Public comment at Monday’s meeting is welcome and encouraged.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Renovation on schedule, budget iffy

The high school renovation still appears to be on time - that's the good news. But as the project enters the final stretch, the contingency fund is lower than we would prefer. Some blame has been put upon Middletown Township for the fees it has charged the district, but those fees are to be (or should have been) expected. When money gets tight like this, that's when shortcuts like not paving a gravel road are considered.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Show will go on

Just when it appeared that the high school renovation might interfere with the annual musical, comes word from Superintendent Paul Kadri of a solution. Thanks to the work of Kadri and his administration, and due to the invaluable assistance of Damien Spahr (construction manager for the NHS project), renovation efforts that impact the area surrounding the Kloos Auditorium will work around the musical. Some work will begin before the annual drama event, and the rest of the work will be completed when the final curtain has come down.

Thank you to everyone who helped proves once again that the Show MUST go on!

And speaking of the Arts . . .

Drama Club students present!

Have you ever thought that your teachers are crazy? Well, for the kids of Bristol, Maine it's a reality. Join the Neshaminy High School Drama Club students as they present Good Morning Miss Vickers.

Performances will take place in the Performing Arts Center on November 13th - 15th at 7:00 pm. and 2:00 pm. on Saturday, November 15th. Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for adults.

IU could rent Tawanka center

If the IU's in, evening activities could be out.
The Neshaminy School District is negotiating a deal with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit No. 22 to rent the Tawanka Learning Center in Lower Southampton for more than $7 per square foot, officials said during a school board meeting Wednesday night.

You can read the rest of this Courier Times article by
clicking here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where have you gone???

I've been getting lots of emails asking that very question. Obviously you've noticed that it has been nearly a month since I last updated this blog, and some of you are wondering what's wrong. To put your minds at ease, I can assure you that nothing is wrong. As a matter of fact, things couldn't be better.

My employer recently added some more responsibilities to my job including a business unit that tends to travel quite a bit, and so I've been spending more time in airplanes recently. Last month I was in St. Louis, two weeks ago in Germany, next week in South Carolina, and someplace else the week after that. Although I am enjoying the new challenges of my job, it leaves very little free time for other things like this blog.

I'll do what I can to keep this blog current since it's a convenient way for us to stay in touch with each other. I always look forward to hearing from you, and I appreciate your patience while I adapt to these changes in my professional life.

Renovations hit sour note

"They say the show must go on — but can it? Neshaminy High School families hope so.
Dozens of parents and students filled the Neshaminy school board meeting Tuesday night asking officials to find a way to make sure the Middletown high school's musical happens this winter, despite construction."

You can read the rest of this Courier Times article by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Still no agreement in talks

According to this morning's Courier Times . . . While bargaining continues, there is no new update in the Neshaminy teachers' contract talks, which remain centered on health care costs, officials reported this week.

(Louise) Boyd previously said that health care was the only topic that the board was willing to discuss. (Rich) Webb responded that insurance is important because “there is no money in the budget. Without some concessions, there will be no way to fund other changes ... like salary.”

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

If you want to visit the district's contract negotiations website, click here.

Any community questions or comments about negotiations can be directed to Board Member Rich Webb:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Yeah, Neshaminy really stinks

From a press release on the Neshaminy district website:

This past summer Neshaminy High School was recognized at the PA. Governor's Institute on Financial Education. Mr. Paul Coleman, a Neshaminy High School teacher, represented the District as a teacher mentor.
The recognition was for Neshaminy High School’s performance on the National Financial Literacy Challenge in April given by the US Department of the Treasury. The test was administered to 46,000 high school students to coincide with April being National Financial Education Month. During the Institute, Mr. Coleman was informed that Neshaminy High School had more students score in the top 25% on the test than any other school in Pennsylvania and Neshaminy High School scores were among the best nationwide.

I think some of that is worth repeating . . .
Neshaminy High School had more students score in the top 25% on the test than any other school in Pennsylvania and Neshaminy High School scores were among the best nationwide!

Gee, can our days get any darker? This is awful . . . how embarrassing! I know, let's force out the superintendent responsible for this atrocity by undermining his every move.

Remote Participation

Should a school board member be allowed to participate in a meeting if they cannot be present physically? That issue is now being discussed by the Board Policies Committee based on my request. Although I am confident this measure will be passed on to the full board for a vote, it may meet with some opposition.

Although I have been in attendance for every board meeting since my election, there is always a chance that I may have to travel out of town because of my job, and I will not be able to attend a meeting in person. In such cases, I would like the option to participate in the meeting via telephone or video conference. Seems like a reasonable request, doesn't it? Corporations and non profit organizations conduct business every day with their board of directors via remote access, so why shouldn't Neshaminy? If we're boasting technology as part of our Classroom for the Future initiative, how can we not take advantage of a 19th century invention like the telephone?

While most of my fellow board members supported this idea and agreed that it be sent to Board Policies for development, some did not agree. They expressed a view that a board member should be physically present or else they should not be allowed to participate in a meeting. While I agree that being physically present at a meeting is always preferable, it's difficult to imagine in this day and age that anyone would deny an elected official the ability to use modern (or even not-so-modern) technology so that his/her voice can be heard.

I should also mention that the state supreme court is on my side with their ruling of Babac v. Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board (Pa. 1992).

This issue will be discussed at the next Board Policies meeting on Wednesday, October 15th at 6pm in the Board Room at Maple Point. I would most sincerely appreciate some support from citizens who believe as I do, so I hope to see you there. In the meantime, you can chime in on this subject by completing the Readers Poll to the right.

Vote out micromanagers

That's the sentiment of Levittown resident Karen Gatewood in a letter-to-the-editor published in today's Courier Times. Ms. Gatewood says we are going to lose "one of our most beloved superintendents" because some school board members are undermining his efforts.

You can read all of Ms. Gatewood's letter by clicking here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pack your umbrellas

Going to NHS Back-to-School night? Heavy winds and rain are forecasted. If you haven't been up to the renovated builiding yet, you'll find out why a couple of spots are referred to as islands.

If inclement weather should lead to cancellation of tonight's event, I'll be sure to post an update on this blog later today.

I've got the Comcast blues

It's now Day 13 and my email service is still not functioning properly. The most frustrating aspect is that Comcast Tech Support has failed miserably when it comes to diagnosing the problem. Despite the very detailed problem report I submitted, the folks at Comcast just keep resetting my password and declaring the problem fixed. After two weeks worth of fruitless chats with inept staff, I finally made contact yesterday with someone at Comcast who actually listened. With fingers crossed, I'm giving them till Saturday to fix the problem before I officially freak out.

My sincere apologies to anyone who may have sent me an email but has not heard back from me. Please be patient. I'll update this blog when the problem has been fixed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Take the show on the road?

In past years, school board meetings were held at different buildings in the district in an effort to make them more accessible to the public. But then came the cable tv rebroadcasts which made meetings available to anyone who couldn't come to the meetings in person, and so the meeting location has been fixed to the Board Room at Maple Point. The question is should we be moving board meetings to different buildings as we did in the past or should we keep them at Maple Point?

Those in favor of moving the meetings around would say it's a great way to ensure that board members actually visit the various buildings in the district, and it would make meetings more accessible for those who can't always trek in to Maple Point.

Opponents of the idea claim that much time and money has been put into improving the quality of the broadcasts from Maple Point, and there would be a decrease in the broadcast quality if we move the meetings to other locations. Besides that, the whole point of the rebroadcasts was to accommodate those people who couldn't make it to the meetings.

What do you think? Please vote in the Readers Poll over on the right side, then feel free to add your comments to this post.

How to improve student safety

Involvement — that's what Neshaminy School District “citizens” told Superintendent Paul Kadri Friday when asked for ideas on how to improve student safety.

Click here to read the rest of this Courier Times article.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Another jam along the info highway

My email has not been working since the weekend. The service provider is looking into the problem and I hope to have emails working again soon.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It’s déjà vu all over again

Neshaminy residents got a scare earlier this year when it was learned that Superintendent Paul Kadri was interviewing for a job in Michigan. Even though Kadri didn’t get that job, our collective sigh of relief was short-lived. As is reported in today’s Courier Times, Kadri is the finalist in a job search for another school district.

Much of Kadri's statement to the Courier was cut due to size limitations of the article. Here is what Kadri said in its entirety:

"On Tuesday, September 9, 2008, I notified the Board of Education that I am a finalist for a Superintendent’s position in another district. As many know, the process through which a Superintendent applies for a position and a Board hires a Superintendent often becomes public prior to anything being finalized. That is the situation in this case.

Since this information may come as a surprise to some, I thought a brief explanation might be in order. I have tremendous respect for all who make up the Neshaminy community. The students, staff, parents and community members are genuinely wonderful people who care as deeply about students as I do. Over the past two plus years we have been able to achieve much success in helping to strengthen the present condition of the school system and position it for success in the future.

When I was originally hired in the District the Board asked me to: (1) focus on improving the financial situation in the District, (2) focus on improving test scores at the high school; and (3) ensure that politics did not penetrate the hiring process or any other decisions made in the District. I believe that we have been very successful in these areas.

With regard to strengthening our financial situation, our budgets over the past two years have not only met Act 1 limits, but this year’s budget is actually less than last year’s. This would have resulted in a tax decrease, but for the fact that the savings were used to replace the use of our reserves that were allocated a few years ago to fill a budget gap in revenues.

I am very proud of everyone’s efforts to improve high school achievement. Our double digit increases this past spring in high school achievement scores are nothing short of amazing. It is wonderful that these gains were shared both with general education students and those with special needs. Being recognized as having the third largest improvement in high school reading in the Philadelphia region is a remarkable accomplishment.

I am very proud of all those in the District who have consistently made decisions with the best interest of students and community in mind. I am also very, very proud of our continuing effort to keep our students safe over these past couple of years. One cannot guarantee that a tragedy will not occur, but everyone has committed to deeply caring for the welfare of our students each and every day.

The Board and I have been divided over the direction and expectations of the District. The Superintendent serves to move a district in the direction established by the Board. It is important that both the Superintendent and Board share similar expectations and priorities; and lacking those similarities, it is in my and the Board’s best interest that I move on to another school district.

The Board and I regret that the process of my seeking a position with another district will become public. The Board and I will be certain that my position seeking will not become a detrimental distraction to the District. The Board and I will continue to work cooperatively and in the best interest of the School District, the students and staff and the entire Neshaminy community until such time as I am selected to another position."

Despite a successful educational and financial year, Kadri may be on the move. This could be your last chance to tell him how you feel.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Setting the record straight

Bill Spitz' guest opinion in today's Courier went after the newspaper's reporting of our PSSA scores by saying "It is obvious from both the headline and the article itself that the newspaper was trying to generate controversy; but it reflected a deep misunderstanding of the meaning of the districtwide AYP designations."

You can read all of what Spitz said by clicking here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Shedding light on our darkest days

Confused by the debate over PSSA scores? The Neshaminy SPIN (School Parent Information Network) will feature a presentation by Superintendent Paul Kadri at their September 16th meeting at the high school auditorium beginning at 7pm. Kadri will explain how AYP tells only a fraction of the story behind Neshaminy’s PSSA performance. Even if you think you understand PSSA’s and AYP, you are encouraged to attend this presentation so you can gain a proper perspective on our results and separate fact from fiction.

A not-so hidden agenda
In case you missed the letter in yesterday’s Courier Times, click here to read what a Middletown resident said about power struggles, board bullying, and an “agenda to push Kadri out of the district.”

Sunday, August 31, 2008

PA Education Forecast: Dark Days Ahead

Did you hear the one about the school district in Lancaster County whose high school posted its highest reading and math scores ever but didn't achieve AYP because of the IEP subgroup? Apparently this phenomenon is rampant in Lancaster County and throughout Pennsylvania.

No word yet if that district's school board president declared it the darkest day in their history.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blue skies or darkest day?

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Paul Kadri explained in painstaking detail the district’s PSSA scores and clarified what the term AYP meant. He celebrated our accomplishments by honoring faculty and students from the high school, and he noted that the Philadelphia Inquirer listed our progress in high school reading as being ranked 3rd in the Philadelphia area. It was truly a time for celebration as was evidenced by the faces of the three NHS student representatives in attendance to accept an award on behalf of their classmates. But those smiles wouldn’t last long.

The three Levittown school board representatives (Board President Rick Eccles, VP Frank Koziol, and Ritchie Webb) were not pleased with our scores, and they angrily voiced concern over Neshaminy’s progress and also (what they said was) Kadri’s unwillingness to turn over the raw PSSA data to them as soon as it was available. The punctuation on their attack was Eccles’ statement, “this is the darkest day in Neshaminy’s history.”

No longer wanting to be on the receiving end of their venom, Kadri challenged the Levittown representatives by countering many of their statements. At one point when Webb brought up some past history to explain his discontent with our superintendent, Kadri immediately challenged him with a scornful look followed by “do you REALLY want to do this now, Mr. Webb?” Susan Cummings, Bill Spitz and Joe Blasch all came to the defense of Kadri, and each stated how the board must do more to support his efforts. Cummings reacted strongly to Eccles’ darkest day comment by stating that the three NHS students in attendance, once full of proud smiles, now appeared to be angered.

So which is it, blue skies or darkest days? Are you pleased with Neshaminy’s progress despite the AYP flags for the IEP/Spec Ed subgroup, or do you think we have sunk to an all-time low? Please participate in the survey over to the right then add your comments to this post. I remind you to keep your comments constructive and PG-13 remembering that Neshaminy students read this blog. And if you need more background on this issue before forming an opinion, here are some sources of information which should help you:
1) Read today’s Courier Times summary of Tuesday’s meeting. It may not have captured the emotion of the evening, but it’s a balanced report which includes a summary of our AYP status.
2) Refresh your memory with some of the highlights from this year’s PSSA scores by re-reading an earlier post on this blog, “Since when does 90% equal flunking?”
3) Watch the rebroadcast of the meeting. It lasted 3-1/2 hours so it’s not exactly easy viewing, but here’s a watcher-friendly hint: Watch from the beginning of the meeting through Kadri’s Powerpoint presentation on PSSA’s (and the follow-up comments from the board), then fast forward to the end of the meeting for public comment when Chris Graham of Langhorne admonished several board members for their obvious agenda against Superintendent Kadri.

As for me, I am still haunted by Tuesday’s events, particularly the reaction of those high school students who attended the meeting. Mrs. Cummings’ comment of how the smiles were now gone from their young faces has stayed with me. I can’t shake it, can’t get it out of my head. I’m not sure I ever will.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Going nowhere at 100 mph

According to this morning’s Courier Times article, teacher union President Louise Boyd said that “things are really moving slowly” with respect to ongoing contract negotiations. She further claims that the district is “limiting” substantive face-to-face meetings.

On the other hand, board member and negotiating team spokesperson Ritchie Webb points out that the board has met with the teachers 10 times since January and another meeting is scheduled for September 3rd.

You can read the complete article by clicking here.

Schools blast state for PSSA changes

As if there wasn’t enough controversy surrounding these tests. Take a look at this article in today’s Courier Times.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Waiting for the apology that will never come

When you make a mistake you should own up to it, right? Apparently the Courier Times doesn’t think so.

In last week’s article bash against Neshaminy, the Courier Times printed incorrect information. Despite being given clarification by school district officials, the newspaper has yet to issue a correction to their misinformation and there are no indications that they will be doing so.

In their article, the Courier Times incorrectly stated that none of Neshaminy grade spans were able to meet every target. The correct information is that Neshaminy grade spans were unable to meet every target in Reading ONLY, which resulted in the District not meeting AYP.

In addition, the article stated that “several Neshaminy schools are either in corrective action or school improvement or received a Warning…” This is a misleading statement as we have only 1 school in Corrective Action, 1 school at School Improvement and the remaining 5 in Warning.

Should Neshaminy residents just let this pass? HELL NO! The Courier’s article has completely undermined our accomplishments this past year. To illustrate the confusion they have caused, here are a few quotes from Courier Times readers in their post-article blogs:
“Great!!! yeah, super to hear that Neshaminy is the "dumb ass" school district.”
“Neshaminy is now at the bottom of the heap of school districts in Bucks County.”
“I am surprised at the low scores that Neshaminy and Pennsbury achieved.”
”LOL Neshaminy - So glad my kids go to Council Rock schools.”

I don’t suppose that the Courier will mention that of the 16 high schools in Bucks County, Neshaminy High School had the second highest increase from 2007 to 2008 with a combined total of 23%? No, of course not. Why bother with relevant data when you can write editorials using meaningless statistics like PSSA proficiency of graduates? Unfortunately for Neshaminy, the Courier wants to hype the issue of poor test scores and teacher contract negotiations, and reporting positive news won't give that issue any heat.

Is anyone else out there as upset as I am???

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Since when does 90% equal flunking?

If you read any of the recent Courier Times articles about PSSA scores, you’re probably confused. First was last Friday’s article with the screaming headline “Neshaminy flunks scholastic goals” and an explanation that “The Neshaminy School District is the lone public school system in the area that did not achieve AYP …” which gave people the impression that Neshaminy’s overall scores were the lowest in the land. Then there was a follow up article on Sunday which posted the scores of Bucks County school districts and it was apparent that Neshaminy’s overall scores were not the worst – not by far. And for those of you who track the yearly progress of PSSA’s, you noticed a substantial improvement in several key categories.

In a memo to the school board, Superintendent Kadri clarified that “In Neshaminy, we had 92 performance targets measured by NCLB. We missed only 9 of them. That is a very strong showing. Of the 9, all 9 of them involved small sub-groups of students. Seven of the nine were related to reading. Unfortunately, because there was at least one of the seven in each of the three grade level categories, (high school, middle school, elementary), the entire district was determined to be failing. This could happen even if all of our scores went up and even if we did better than other school districts that were not identified as failing.“

Mr. Kadri also highlighted some very impressive achievements not addressed by the Courier article including:
· At the high school we increased in reading by 13% in math by 12%. In addition to having substantial growth our overall levels are very strong especially when compared to our peers.
· At the middle school level, our scores are either leading or competitive with the majority of districts in Bucks County. In some places we have advanced proficiency levels near or over 70%. In other words, students are not just passing the exams; they are registering at the highest levels of proficiency.
· The elementary schools continue to be strong and competitive and easily met overall indicators for AYP.

Kadri’s words are powerful proof of what was accomplished this past year in Neshaminy. Having said that, we must continue addressing the special ed subgroup situation. Whether or not we believe proficiency is even achievable for these students, the fact is NCLB is the law of the land and we are obligated to comply. Love it or hate it, AYP is part of our lives.

My problem with all this is the manner in which the Courier Times reported the scores. AYP is a very challenging concept, and the Courier reporter and editor should have considered the confusion such an article would cause without the supporting data. The headline “Neshaminy flunks scholastic goals” was misleading and sensationalistic. Yes it’s true we didn’t achieve AYP, but achieving 90% success in the 92 performance targets is far from flunking. It’s something to be proud of. But after reading last Friday’s article and the subsequent editorials, nobody in Neshaminy is cheering.

In Sunday’s editorial, the Courier embarrassed our superintendent by printing a quote without any clear context of the dialogue. They even admit they didn’t understand Kadri’s statement – so why would they even print it if they didn’t comprehend his point? Obviously they couldn’t fairly represent his perspective, but that didn’t prevent them from using it against him. That was a cheap shot not worthy of the Fourth Estate.

Then in today’s editorial the Courier continued its assault on Neshaminy by criticizing us for not tracking PSSA proficiency of graduates, and accuses us of having a “head-in-the-sand strategy.” I admit to finding the Courier’s stand almost humorous because PSSA proficiency of graduates is a completely useless statistic. While it may be true that good PSSA scores are a reflection of a successful school district, there is no correlation between PSSA scores and academic success. If you believe otherwise then ask yourself this question – if PSSA’s went away, would that result in less students graduating?

Through all these articles and editorials, the Courier does raise some good points about test scores, teacher accountability and empty diplomas – these are all worthy topics. But the Courier went overboard trying to link them into their cause du jour – teacher contracts. As a result of that, lost in all the words was the fact that Neshaminy’s overall scores improved and are worthy of praise.

I consider myself of fan of the Courier Times and read it daily. Unfortunately when articles lack proper balance and editorials do more to insult than inspire, they serve very little purpose. In my mind, the only one who flunked last week was the Courier Times.

What do you think? Feel free to add comments to this post, or you can send your comments directly to the Courier Times, or do both.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dog days of summer

I hope you're enjoying summer vacation. Before you know it, school will be back in session and so too will be the board meetings.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Random drug testing

Should school districts have random drug testing?
As noted in a Courier Times editorial this morning, Central Bucks has asked their parents if such a policy should be implemented. Unfortunately not that many parents bothered to respond to the district's survey. While I applaud CB for asking before implementing, I believe random drug testing forces our school districts to act as parents rather than as educators.

If a student exhibits questionable behavior, I can understand giving school districts greater latitude to administer a drug test. But the idea of randomly selecting little Johnny for drug testing without establishing probable cause sounds a bit too Draconian to me. There is a difference between responsible supervision of our students and random invasion of their privacy.

Please take a moment to complete the Reader Survey over in the right column, and then add your comments to this post. I’m sure this topic will come up for discussion during the new school year and I would like to hear what you have to say about it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Political agenda

Did you see the letter to the editor in yesterday's Courier Times criticizing Phil Schieber's take on a controversial school board meeting? According to the letter's author, Susan Holderer, Schieber "cleverly disguises his partisan politics, it's quite obvious that he is launching attacks . . . to further his own political agenda."

Click here to read the entire letter.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Is NCLB working?

The Courier Times reported that standardized test scores are on the rise throughout the United States. There is some question as to whether or not this is a result of No Child Left Behind, but the results are encouraging regardless of their root causes.

In a follow up editorial, the Courier Times applauded the efforts of school districts that mandate PSSA proficiency for would-be graduates, and they encouraged Neshaminy to adopt this same policy.

Are our children really learning more, or are they just becoming better test-takers? Will mandating PSSA proficiency further improve test scores? What do you think?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A man for the people

I don't normally watch ABC's The Practice, but this clip of William Shatner is incredible, especially during this presidential election season.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Policies Meeting Rescheduled

The Board Policies Committee meeting has been rescheduled for next Tuesday, June 24th, at 6pm in the C&I Conference Room at Maple Point (just down the hall from the board room).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Finally, a responsible budget

The final board meeting of the 2007/2008 school year ended on a good note. Without using any of the available exemptions under Act 1 constraints, Superintendent Kadri proudly unveiled a 2008/2009 budget which remained within the 4.4% inflationary limit. A couple of board members didn’t feel this budget did enough to cut expenses, but I strongly disagree considering the following:

* For the first time in many years, our operational expenditures actually decreased.
* Only $3.7 million of the projected $6.5 million fund balance is being used to offset budget increases, leaving $2.8 million in reserve. For 2007/2008, $7 million of the available $9 million was budgeted, leaving only $2 million in budgeted reserve. So we’re spending less and saving more.
* This amazing budgeting feat was accomplished despite drastic reductions in investment market income, soaring fuel costs which added nearly $1 million more in expense, and over $2 million in contractual payouts to the large number of retirees.
* The best part is that no educational programs were cut as a result of this budget.

Certainly there is more that can be accomplished in future budgets, but Mr. Kadri and his staff did an amazing job despite a rigorously challenging school year that included building closures, redistricting, teacher contract negotiations, and the ongoing high school renovation. If I started to applaud individuals, I would undoubtedly leave someone off the list. So let me personally thank everyone in Neshaminy administration who contributed to all that was accomplished. We certainly had a tumultuous, often controversial year, but your efforts have allowed us to end things on a very positive note.

Here’s looking forward to 2008/2009!

Here is a link to a Courier Times article regarding passing of next year's budget.

NMS closes, Tawanka remains open

During the final meeting of the school year, the board closed one of the two buildings on the chopping block while keeping the other open for another year. Closure of Neshaminy Middle seemed like a no-brainer despite the tremendous inconvenience caused to staff, students and parents due to the delay in pursuing the findings of the McKissick Study. Given the declining enrollment and pending budget crisis, clearly the board/district had to do something with one of its middle schools. Although nobody was in love with the idea of closing NMS, even the community members participating on the Redistricting Committee agreed it was the right thing to do.

One of the ongoing controversies with consolidating middle schools surrounded grandfathering of next year’s 8th and 9th graders to Maple Point. Many parents voiced concerns their 8th and 9th graders should be permitted to attend that school regardless of where the redistricting boundaries fell, but district administration could only ensure a quality school year for the grandfathered 9th graders; adding another 50 or so 8th graders to Maple Point is more than that building could handle.

My own opinion is that while grandfathering 9th grade students is understandable, it’s going to be way too crowded at Maple Point next year with over 1400 students in attendance. Two of my children attended MP when there were 1200 students and that seemed like chaos. I cannot imagine what over 1400 students will be like in that building. For those parents who fought to keep their kids at Maple Point another year – as the saying goes, be careful what you ask for.

Regarding Tawanka, that was a less obvious decision. Most, if not all, of the board agrees that the alt ed program at Tawanka is academically successful. There is some question as to what the true per-student cost for the program is, and some board members believed the program could be made more cost effective if it were moved to the high school or a middle school building. But because there were not five (5) votes to support its closure, Tawanka remains open for another year. The ideal location for the alt ed program would be the Eisenhower facility, but it would require $200k in renovations. In the end it was cheaper to keep the program where it is for now – Tawanka, but the board and district must continue to evaluate the cost effectiveness of the program, and find the best location to house it.

Here is a link to this morning's Courier Times article on these facilities.

Rally for school property tax elimination

Organizers of a rally in support of House Bill 1275 asked me to be one of a dozen speakers in support of this bill that seeks to completely eliminate school property taxes. The rally took place on Monday June 2nd in the Harrisburg Capitol Rotunda in front of approximately 500 enthusiastic supporters. You can click here to see the entire rally, which lasted a little less than an hour. If you want to see my little three minute blurb, go to the time bar at the bottom of the media player and advance it approximately 2/3rds to the right (around the 30 minute mark).

To learn more about HB1275, go to the
PA Taxpayers Cyber Coalition website.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

Beating the heat

The District announced that buildings will close early today and tomorrow due to excessive heat. The following details were posted to Neshaminy's website:

Approximate times for dismissal due to heat for today and tomorrow:
high school - 10:45 am
middle schools - 11:20 am
elementary schools - 11:45 and noon
NO PM kindergarten (6/9 10:05 am)

Plans are being prepared to dismiss students early today because of excessive heat in schools. Details to shortly follow. (6/9 9:35 am)

The weather is for continued heat for the next two days. We will monitor the conditions of our un-airconditioned buildings. Updates will be posted here (6/9 7:30am).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A long way to go

If you read this morning’s Courier Times article, then you already know that there is quite a difference between what the NFT is asking for in the next CBA and what the Board/District is offering.

Here is a link to information compiled by Neshaminy’s Negotiation Committee.

The Courier Times summarized the offers as follows:
· Increase salaries 1 percent annually
· Union to pay 10, 11 and 12 percent toward healthcare premiums over next three years
· Increase K-5 class size ranges from 22-29 students to 27-33 students
· Eliminate $27,500 cash payment on retirement, plus full benefits coverage until 65
· Increase step schedule from 11 to 15 steps by 2010-2011
· Eliminate longevity pay
· Eliminate long-term sub pool
· Increase work days from 188.5 to 190.5
· Increase work hours from 7 to 7.5
· Eliminate recognition of master's degree equivalency
· Change six excused absences to three personal days
· Institute mandatory drug-testing for staff

· Increase salaries 4 percent annually
· No change in health insurance; currently no payment for premiums
· Reduce class sizes from 29 to 27 students in fourth grade, 29 to 28 students in fifth grade, and 35 to 30 students in the middle and high schools
· Increase retirement incentive from $27,500 to $30,000
· Assign no more than three consecutive teaching periods
· Eliminate sister-schooling at the elementary level
· Increase prep periods from five to seven per week
· Allow 12 days per year, or 15 periods per marking period, for individual education plans for special ed teachers
· Cap special ed students at one to every three “regular” students in regular education classes
· Implement required technology education at elementary level
· Implement full-day kindergarten

Start brewing some coffee . . . this may take a while.

Clarification - The Courier Times summary of offers noted above does not accurately reflect the true percent of increases. We are proposing a 1% increase in the SALARY SCHEDULE, which translates into a 3.1% average increase for returning staff after accounting for step movements. The NFT is proposing a 4% increase in the SALARY SCHEDULE, which translates into a 6.1% average increase for returning staff.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hearsay . . . really?

In his letter to the editor of the Courier Times, Phil Schieber of Flowers Mills said that the stand Bill Spitz and I took against board interference in Neshaminy’s hiring process was based on hearsay instead of evidence. Funny, but I thought it was pretty factual when I stated that our superintendent, per his own words to me, was misled regarding the board’s involvement in changing the official recommendation for an administrative position (since I’m a board member, I should know if WE agreed on such a change). Also not in dispute is that Dr. Spitz repeatedly challenged those I accused to explain their actions, and neither gentleman would even deny the charges.

One thing I’m sure that both Schieber and I would agree on is that hearsay without any factual support can be harmful. One example occurred around the May 2007 election primary when a resident of Flowers Mill spread an unfounded rumor in his community that I refer to senior citizens as “old geezers.” A more recent example would be how a couple of gentlemen in Flowers Mill told residents back in February that school taxes could go up as much as $1,000 even though Act 1 restricted the average increase to no more than $370.

Such examples show that hearsay and unsubstantiated rumor can be used to cause fear and panic within a community. But you can rest assured, Mr. Schieber, that the information that Bill Spitz and I reported to the community are factual and verifiable.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Recommendation due on teacher contract negotiations

According to an article in the Courier Times, “Today, a fact-finder, assigned by the state Department of Labor Relations, is scheduled to make a recommendation after reviewing both sides' cases . . .”

Up until now both sides have described progress as slow. Unfortunately there is not more I can tell you because I cannot participate in the negotiations, so I’m pretty much hearing things at the same time as you.

Please feel free to add your comments regarding this situation BUT please keep your opinions respectful and on-topic. I will not publish insults, unfair attacks on either side, or baseless rumors.

When you read the Courier Times article, you can also add your comments at the bottom of that story. Here is a link to that article.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Happy Birthday!

We are 6 months old today!

With over 40,800 hits since its inception last November, this blog averages more than 225 visits each day. We could never have achieved this success without your devotion to the Neshaminy School District.

Thank you all for stopping by!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sign up for Email Alerts

Stopping by the blog to see if any new posts have been added? Why not save yourself a little time and sign up to be on my email alert distribution? I'll send you an email notification any time my blog is updated or whenever there is important information to pass along. It's quick, easy and completely confidential.

All you have to do is click on the "sign up for email alerts" link over in the right nav bar; that will open up a pre-addressed email message. All you have to do is include your name in the body of the email, then hit the send button.

There are nearly 200 area residents signed up for email alerts, and there is always room for more. Sign up today!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Redistricting plan ready and waiting

A quote in a Courier Times article from Assistant Superintendent, Lou Muenker, about the potential closing of Neshaminy Middle:

“I think we have a viable plan with the best interest of students and staff,” said Muenker. “We understand that redistricting is a very tough, emotional subject because everyone loves their home school. But it's, unfortunately, necessary.”

You can read the article in its entirety by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hard work and community support make a difference

The highlight of last night’s board meeting was the revelation that next year’s budget deficit has been whittled down from its original $15.6 million to just under $3 million. Superintendent Kadri is still optimistic we can get the budget down to the Act 1 limit of a 4.4% tax increase (without benefit of any exemptions). We’re not completely out of the woods yet regarding our budget woes; we continue to tap into our reserve fund to offset expenditures, and we still have what Kadri referred to as a “$7million structural deficit.” So unless certain cost issues are addressed, we will find ourselves in a similar situation when the 2009/2010 budget cycle begins. But for now the budget story is a good one, and Kadri and his entire cabinet deserve strong praise for their efforts. Thank you all!

The only negative news from last night was the concerns raised by students from the Neshaminy High School Swim Team regarding the air quality surrounding the Poquessing pool deck where they practice and compete. Nobody on the board seemed to be aware that the conditions were quite this bad, and it raised questions about health and safety issues. We have asked for district officials to examine this matter more closely and suggest options.

Here is the Courier Times’ report of last night’s meeting.

Other developments this week . . .

The Board Policies Committee continued its discussions of possibly forming a board-level personnel committee. This idea continues to draw criticism from some board and community members who are skeptical over giving more control of hiring decisions to the board. One alternative to another committee is to tweak the interview process to include board members and citizens along with administration. Hopefully all parties involved will see this as a reasonable compromise.

The Education Development Committee has agreed to pass along the recommendation to mandate PSSA proficiency as a graduation requirement. Next stop is the Board Policies Committee, who must prepare the measure for board approval. Other districts who have adopted this concept have seen some pretty dramatic improvements in the very first year, with scores jumping as much as 12%. But the plan isn’t as simple as mandating proficiency – there are a number of support elements and safety nets which are an integral part of the idea. There is still some work that must be done before this is ready for prime time.

I continue to be pleased and impressed with the increased attendance at meetings recently. The board room has been filled to capacity on numerous occasions, and we have seen many new faces including PTO parents, students, and other community activists. Several of these people have even attended board committee sessions recently, which further improved the effectiveness of those meetings. Despite all the challenges facing Neshaminy, there is reason for optimism with this kind of participation and support.

Keep up the good work everyone!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Proof is in the pudding

The latest victim in this current fuel price crunch is food costs. We see it at the grocery store and at restaurants, and it has even hit Neshaminy though you wouldn't know that based on our prices. Our students continue to pay less for school lunches than anywhere else in Bucks County. The chart to the right shows that we fall $.25 below the county average for high school and middle school lunches, and $.32 less for elementary lunches. With Neshaminy's Food Services staff projecting a shortfall, it's no surprise that they are recommending price increases beginning September 2008. If the recommendation is accepted by the board, school lunches will increase by $.30 for all grade levels.

Not all the board members agree with the recommendation. Frank Koziol believes that a 14+% increase in lunch prices exceeds the increase in food costs and is therefore excessive. Business Manager Joe Paradise countered Koziol's position by pointing out that Neshaminy rarely increases its lunch costs (last time was September 2004), and the suggested increase will bring Neshaminy in line with the other area school districts.

Here is an article in today's Courier Times regarding the impact of fuel prices on area school district food programs.

What do you think? Should Neshaminy raise its school lunch prices?

Time Change

Tuesday's (May 13th) meeting of the Board Policies Committee has been move to 5pm instead of 6pm. Please make note of this change. The board meeting is still scheduled for its customary 7pm start.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Two important meetings

There are two very important board committee meetings coming up next week. I strongly encourage your attending either one or both, depending on which issues are most important to you.

1. Education Development Committee (Monday May 12th, 6pm – Board Room)
The topic of mandating PSSA proficiency as a graduation requirement will be discussed. This is your chance to see and hear the senior educators in our district that advocate this idea. It’s an emotional issue with strong arguments both for and against.

2. Board Policies Committee (Tuesday May 13th, 6pm – C&I Room)
Discussion regarding formation of a personnel committee. You all know my feelings on this one . . . until this district and this board can restore public confidence in how it manages the hiring process, no way should we implement a personnel committee. That would be like putting the mice in charge of the cheese. I would support a citizens’ oversight panel, but that is not up for consideration.

Committee meetings are smaller, less formal than board meetings, and they are excellent opportunities to observe the recommendations that are eventually passed along to the full board for consideration. Attendee participation during the meetings is encouraged, and is much more interactive than at board meetings.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Disappearing act

Last night’s meeting was a marathon session lasting over 3 hours. There were some important updates on the Tawanka program and also the high school renovation project. Since it may take a while before you watch the entire broadcast, let me give you a few highlights under the category of . . .

Now you see it, now you don’t

1. Retirees: Before the meeting, the annual celebration to acknowledge service anniversaries and retirees was held in the Maple Point auditorium. Even though we are losing some fine educators to well-deserved retirements, their legacy of educational excellence will remain. Thank you and good luck to all the retirees.

2. The Retired Educator: When the meeting began, the room was full of parents, PTO members, and senior citizens – all except for one notable absence: Howard Lindner. I don’t know if he was asked by MRC party leadership not to attend, or if he just chose to stay home and watch American Idol. All I can say was he wasn’t there, but one of his cronies was. She stayed long enough to hear public comment, then left shortly afterwards. My guess is she was there to report on any public reaction to Lindner’s tirade at the last meeting.

3. The Contingency: Here’s the bottom line on the NHS renovation project – with 38% of the project remaining, only 10% of the contingency fund remains. Is that good? Bad? I’m no construction manager, so I asked someone in the building trades about it. He told me that the rule of thumb is that 90% of a contingency fund is used to finish up the last 10% of a project. If that’s true, then holding the line on the renovation project budget is going to be a difficult challenge. The major obstacle is the road improvements required which were not considered in the original project plans. That added approximately $450k in unanticipated costs.

4. Tawanka: All indications are is that the alternative program has been deemed successful as it prevents upwards of 22 students each year from dropping out. So while the program may not disappear, the building will (sort of). There are a number of parties interested in renting part or all of the facility, and this could be a significant source of revenue for the district. But the question is where to house the alternative education program? The Eisenhower facility seems the logical choice, but there will be some costs associated with renovating that building. Another consideration may be at Sandburg/Schweitzer, but can the program be as effective if the alternative program students aren’t in an isolated environment? There doesn’t seem to be clear consensus amongst the board, and there isn’t a whole lot of time left to figure it out.

A few parting thoughts

I was extremely pleased to see a plethora (hi, Erin!) of attendees last night and at many of our meetings over the past few months. While the concerns of redistricting and building closures is what may have drawn these people out, many of them are sticking around and asking questions, and they’re coming back again and again. I attribute this to the work of our dedicated PTO leaders around the district. They have been doing a fine job of educating their parents as to the issues, and encouraging attendance at the meetings.

I have received numerous emails and even a few phone calls of encouragement after the last meeting, with people showing concern that I was beaten up by Mr. Lindner and his political posse. Thank you all for your support and kind words. To be honest, I wasn’t all that bothered by what happened because I expected it. When you’ve been around this district long enough, you understand how things work. What happened that night was nothing more than a pathetic, predictable attempt at maintaining control (although the teamsters in the back were a nice touch). If anything, Mr. Lindner’s actions that night only served to strengthen my resolve.

Lots of positive feedback on the video clips from the last meeting. I’ll try to include clips in future posts but it’s a bit of a challenge. I don’t have the ability to digitally record the meetings, so I have to find someone who does. Then I have to get around to actually reading the directions for the video editing software. Maybe with a little practice I’ll get better at it.

Next Tuesday’s (May 13th, 7pm) school board meeting will feature updates on the Neshaminy Middle School closure and the 2008/2009 budget. It will be a can’t-miss meeting, although I hope it won’t be nearly as long as last night’s session.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Thoughts from last meeting

Before commenting on what transpired during the April 23rd board meeting, these two video clips should give you a painful reminder of what we all had to endure . . .

There are two particular moments that really stuck out in my mind:
#1) Lindner disses Kadri
Wow, talk about kicking a guy when he's down. Paul Kadri has not had much to smile about during his stint here in Neshaminy, and he's made it clear his future will be in another school district. Despite this, Kadri continues to work diligently to make our school district a better place. Apparently that's not enough for Howard Lindner.

Lindner launched into a verbal attack on Kadri, which was pretty gutless considering that he knew Kadri would never respond to him during a public meeting. Ironically it may have been Kadri who was one person in this district who tried to help out Lindner's family member by splitting that temporary administrative assignment to begin with. It's possible that by creating two jobs out of one, administration opened an opportunity which may not have been available to Lindner's family member otherwise.

Another thought - what if the shoe was on the other foot? What if Lindner's family member was the one shut out of an opportunity because of a handshake deal? Would he be so quick to condemn the concept of a split position then?

#2) Lindner's Posse
Lindner's "community" consisted of two groups:

Political Hacks - It was a Who's Who of the Middletown Republican Committee on hand to support Lindner, including:
* The MRC chairperson
* Several MRC committee people
* A former MRC auditor
* Two failed MRC school board candidates
* An unsuccessful MRC township supervisor candidate

With one gentleman using the occasion to launch his future campaign, and another being proclaimed a "future school board member," Lindner has made it very clear he is still a powerful influence within the MRC. For voters in Levittown and Langhorne, this means a vote for an MRC school board candidate is a vote for Howard Lindner. Would-be MRC candidates should strongly consider registering as Independents.

Intimidators - When a dozen or so Teamsters, who have never attended a school board meeting before, show up to be loud and intimidating in support of Lindner, you can only assume they were there to be a show of power. We've seen these kinds of tactics before, and undoubtedly we'll see them again. During the prior school board meeting, one of Lindner's minions pressured a PTO mom to keep her comments to herself by using a scornful, threatening tone. It was serious enough that the woman filed a complaint with the district, claiming that she would call the police if she was subjected to such treatment by this person in the future.

Mr. Lindner's behavior overshadowed what could have been a very positive meeting. At the outset of the session, a joint statement was made by a group of PTO parents and senior citizens calling on the board to resolve their differences and continue to work on the issues confronting Neshaminy. Lindner's performance minimized the efforts of the group as he took center stage, but it did serve a very useful purpose - it showed the entire community what he is all about. But unlike in previous years, these PTO parents are organized and committed to getting Neshaminy back on track, and they won't tolerate misinformation, temper tantrums, and intimidation tactics. No more running the school district from the cheap seats.

That is what gives me hope and confidence that things will get better.

Note: When responding to this post, please keep your comments constructive and on-topic, and avoid personal attacks/insults. Remember, I have to keep this blog PG-13.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Finally some good news

We have been teased for a couple years now about property tax relief through gambling revenues, and now it appears the state is ready to make good on its promise. According to Neshaminy officials, the district will receive nearly $3.6 million to be distributed among the 16,600+ approved homesteads. This translates into a $216 credit on your school tax bill in July.

Please keep in mind that this does not affect the district's Act 1 budget limitations, so we must continue to find ways of reducing our spending.

So what do you think about this tax credit . . . happy? Disappointed? Surprised it even happened? Complete the survey to the right, and add your comments to this post.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

FiOS finally!

Ok you FiOS customers . . . turn on channel 43 and you can see that NNTV is on the air!

Freak show, part II

If the previous board meeting made you cringe, then last night's event will make you cry. Despite an admirable attempt by a joint coalition of parents and seniors calling for calm, the meeting was marred by political hacks in the audience who were part of a well-orchestrated attack. They even bussed in some teamsters for the occasion. And their assault wasn't just aimed at me (as expected) as there was even an over-the-top personal attack on the superintendent.

The good news is that the board behaved itself and worked through the agenda without much discord.

I'll have more thoughts about last night's meeting in a couple days. In the meantime, here's a link to the Courier Times summary. Please make a point of watching the TV taping, which hopefully should be updated in time for tonight's 6pm broadcast. I'm sure you'll have lots to say about it.

2008-2009 School calendar approved

The first day of school next year is Wednesday, September 3rd. The last day is scheduled for Friday, June 19th, 2009.

Let the vacation scheduling begin!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Blog Filtered from staff, students - SEE UPDATE BELOW

If you are a Neshaminy employee or student trying to view my blog, you've probably experienced some difficulties lately. For some unknown reason, the district's filtering system is blocking access. According to district officials, there is no intentional effort involved and this is just the random actions of the filtering software.

Unfortunately there is nothing to fix because the district is well within its rights to block access to any website, intentionally or otherwise, when their resources are in use. All staff and students can do is to log on to the web via their personal access to view this blog.

Update 4:45pm - 4/15/2008: A Neshaminy employee alerted me that a rival blog that criticizes me is visible to staff and students, which raises the question why my site is being filtered and the other is not (both use the same blog service). I have sent a query to our superintendent asking that this matter be investigated. Stay tuned for further developments.

Update 12:00pm - 4/17/2008: Neshaminy staff can now view this blog unobstructed by the District's filtering software. Administration has verified that no intentional, selective blocking occurred although they cannot explain why this blog was filtered while others were not. Apparently it was just the random act of the filtering software. Let me restate that the District would be within its rights to block this or any other blog, and I did not ask them to fix anything but rather confirm whether or not the filtering was intentional.