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Quakertown school board defends $77.9K furniture buy


Editor's Note: This article has been updated to add that $10,246 of the $77,900 was to purchase furniture for the superintendent's office.

Facing criticism, Quakertown Community School Board members defended a $77,900 deal to purchase new furniture for district headquarters at their latest meeting.

Board members and Superintendent Matthew Friedman said the items were necessary to accommodate additional staff in the District Services Center on Route 663. Included in the total was $10,246 to furnish Friedman’s office, replacing furniture that he said was about 14 years old.

Responding to public comment, director Chris Spear said, “There’s a lot going on that’s more than everybody gets pretty new chairs.”

According to Friedman, the technology department needed a larger space for in-house repairs. He added the site would also become a home base for instructional coaches who required furniture to conduct trainings with teachers. He maintained district schools would not be neglected.

“We will be going into buildings, looking at the needs of all the classrooms in the new few weeks,” the superintendent said.

Friedman stressed that there would be consistency across all buildings, and an initial furniture and supplies roll out would commence next school year.

Both Friedman and board member David O’Donnell acknowledged the district could have done a better job explaining the expense.

Earlier, Milford resident Melanie Romanowski called the purchase “an obnoxious amount of money,” which could have been used to replace furniture in district schools.

Romanowski also highlighted the low pay of support staff compared to neighboring district Southern Lehigh, which typically pays $22 an hour compared to Quakertown’s $13 to $15 an hour. Director Spear replied the district was working on more competitive pay for aides but said he was not at liberty to discuss the details of current contract negotiations.

The majority of support staff typically only works when school is in session, with most working part time with limited to no benefits. Quakertown currently has 29 aide vacancies, according to its website.

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