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New Hope-Solebury Board opens year with housekeeping items


Superintendent Charles Lentz listed New Hope-Solebury achievements in state rankings at the Jan. 24 school board meeting.

The district has received two “unsolicited” offers to pay for reserved parking for their businesses such as the Logan Inn, which is expanding.

There is another request that was made in 2014 by the group creating the new Riverhouse facility where Odette’s was located.

Lentz said that renting out parking is in the early stages of consideration in that the school must first ascertain if it has any extra parking, taking into account special events at the school when more spaces are needed.

Resident Ed Duffy commented that there is a sense of urgency for those about to expand who need to know if there is space, urging the district to decide in an “expedited manner.” board member John Capriotti responded the committee hopes to have a long range plan by summer.

Lentz reported on the “Safe to Say” program that arose from state Act 44 regarding school safety. The program focuses on the ability of people to report something suspicious anonymously adding that parents, staff and students have been educated with the program.

At the previous meeting a community member asked if the meetings could be live streamed and Dr. Lentz said he had investigated live streaming and felt it would be too hard to control release of private information that sometimes inadvertently comes out at meetings.

He addressed the state Department of Education and a requirement that significant yearly progress is made at NH-S. Lentz said when a district is doing well it becomes difficult to show great progress.

The superintendent announced the appointment of Amanda Benolken to the new position of supervisor of educational technology and innovation, a 12-month position existing within the Act 93 classification with a $113,000 annual salary.

Dr. Benolken has been the k-12 cyber education and technology specialist, which was a 10-month position.

Reporting for the curriculum committee board member Andrew Ordover said that the curriculum advisory committee would be meeting on a monthly basis going forward. He told the board that course selection was beginning for the high school and that courses that have not been chosen for the past few years would be deleted to add new courses that might prove more attractive including a course in business education which will be mandatory for ninth grade. He spoke of textbook adoption for AP Biology.

Capriotti, reporting for the facilities committee, said that water damage in the Upper Elementary School kitchen had been fixed and will be covered by insurance. He said the committee is getting bids for a new batting cage and there is still a punch list of items to be completed before the construction project is officially over.

He also presented change orders costing almost $19,000 for approval by the board. Capriotti said the safety audit, which was supposed to be done by the BCIU, is running late so the district is bringing in another auditor to get it done but it will cost another $12,000 over the BCIU.

From the board finance committee Mark Cowell invited possible new committee members to come to the next meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 21, fill out a form and have a name approved by the board.

Cowell reported on the income so far and said the current construction overrun is $53,000, which is less than last month because of refunds.

He asked the board to authorize the preliminary budget which includes two exceptions, should they be necessary, that would allow the board to raise taxes above the year’s index.

Board member Stan Marcus commented that tax increases are “murdering people on a fixed income” to which Capriotti responded New Hope has the lowest school tax rate in Bucks County. Marcus responded that in terms of millage New Hope is the lowest but the houses cost more and taxes are higher. Cowell suggested a subcommittee for finance, containing people with knowledge of taxes.

Cowell asked why the District was adding a new administrative position at $113,000 going up from the $80,000 already being paid asking if that position was approved last month.

Representing the policy and human resources committee board member Douglas McDonough suggested a policy for voice votes rather than role call to save time. He also suggested the time for each publlc comment be changed from 3 minutes to 3-5 minutes.

McDonough presented a list of people who have asked to join committees as well as five policies that were presented at the previous meeting including policy 808, providing adequate space and time to eat meals.

McDonough presented several personnel changes and additions as well as a first reading for five more policies.

The policy and human resources committee meets at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14. The next regular meting of the board is Feb. 28.