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New-Hope Solebury School Board confirms Health and Safety Plan

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The New-Hope Solebury School Board announced at its Sept. 30 that it has no updates to the Health and Safety Plan at this time. The board also considered expenditures and a bond refinancing.
“We’ve only had 21 cases,” said Dr. Charles Lentz, superintendent, commenting on COVID-19, “and all have been transmissions from outside of school.”
Lentz said the district is following the governor’s order to mandate masking and will do as the Bucks County Health Department directs regarding protections. He stressed that submitted mask exceptions are being reviewed but require medical documentation to move forward with any allowances.
However, during public comment, a few community members asked the board what information it was using to make masking mandatory. Some made formal requests to see any scientific data the board was using to follow this decision – outside the statewide mandate.
Peter Phillips of Solebury said he had been asking the board since the last meeting what data it used to make the decision.
“I am asking again what data you are using to arrive at your decision,” he said, “because there are significant bodies of information that there are detrimental effects.”
Liz Sheehan, board president, responded, “We are, as you know, under a state mandate for masks right now. As far as criteria for making masking optional, that is a moving target, and we will get updated on that from the Bucks County Health Department.”
“We are abiding by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the American Academy of Pediatrics,” she said.
Board member Dr. Nikhil Heble, who heads policy on the board, stressed that those who want to see policy changes or input should attend committee meetings to open dialog with the board. “But,” he said, “the reality is that we don’t get attendance for policy readings. Oftentimes, there are committee members and very few people, so I encourage people to show up.”

Later, board member and liaison for the Middle Bucks Institute of Technology, Montu Patel, announced that Mark Miller, a longtime Centennial School Board member, died Sept. 24. Miller had previously served as president of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
“When I was new to Robert’s Rule of Order, he helped,” said Patel, “I think it should change to ‘Mark’s Rules’ now.”
After John Gamble, a school board member from Central Bucks and a member of the Middle Bucks board, resigned, Patel took the position as chairperson in his absence.
Both Patel and another board member, John Augenblick, urged members to attend committee meetings to give input beyond the school board meetings.
Augenblick reported that the district had suffered tremendously from deferred capital spending in the past few years, such as structural updates, and that the10-year facilities maintenance plan steered by Deirdre Alderfer and the facilities committee will be addressing long-term maintenance projects.
Many objected to the football stadium and athletics fields taking priority in discussing the distribution of capital expenditures. According to an order by the district to the ELA (Environmental Landscape Associates) group, which is heading the improvement to the outdoor athletics area, the total investment has cost the district over $1.9 million.
Recent changes approved have been the demolition of drain pipes under the field, additional drainage at the basketball court, and revisions to the handicap ramp in front of the high school.
The board also approved bond refinancing to save the district over $260,000 in its current bond of over $10 million.


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