Drama & Dysfunction on Parade at the Nazareth School Board

June 18, 2018 – School Board Meeting

Budget Showdown

To recap, the budget has failed to pass the School Board twice—once on April 16th and again on May 21st. Tonight was the 3rd vote.

The School board voted tonight to approve the school budget.  Initially, everything but section H passed–H being materials Dr. Riker insists he needs for security.

 

HS Stadium & MS Field & Track Cameras $105,533
Additional Cameras in all Buildings $ 20,000
Camera Software Upgrade $  6,700
HS Auditorium Sound System $ 42,000
HS Gym Sound System $ 27,400
HS Stadium Speakers $  8,000
HS Café Sound System $ 13,500
Exterior Wireless – All Buildings $ 61,600
Swipe Card Database Upgrade $  2,800
Portable Radios – All Buildings $ 56,000
Police Vehicles $ 45,000
K-8 Café/Gym/Auditorium Sound Systems $300,000
HS Paging System $200,000
Facilities Backhoe $111,000

 

First Vote:

Butz Y,

Glaros Y, no on H

Roberts Y, no to H

Vasko Y, no to H

McGlynn Y

Treon Y

Kalinosky Y, no to H

Stubits, Y, no to E,F and H

Mammana – Absent

The Budget passed, H failed 5 to 3

Yes, I know what you’re thinking and no, a backhoe wouldn’t be my idea of a needed security item either. Now, let’s talk about the fight.

Following the vote, Superintendent Riker asked for direction concerning the H items. He addressed last week’s discussion concerning hiring additional personnel. Personnel is a permanent expense while all the ‘security’ items were one time expenditures although Glaros pointed out that all machinery requires maintenance.

Butz pushed for hiring an additional two police officers and the police cars. Kalinosky wanted metal detectors as a first line of defense. McGlynn wanted to vote to reinstate the swipe card access because it only cost $2,800. Vasko wanted to know in which schools the police officers were going to be stationed. Riker said, with police officers, he needed police cars with lights or sirens because personal vehicles can get stuck in traffic. (No one pointed out the obvious – regular police can be summoned to a school building in an emergency.) Stubits pointed out that the officers haven’t officially been hired yet—their positions have just been approved. (The budget included money for 2 police officers which brings the total number to 4). Riker scolded the board for voting against the new equipment because, without expanding exterior wireless access, the Navigate system won’t work. Teachers standing in dead spots won’t be able to get critical safety information and students will be in danger.

The board is clearly uncomfortable with each other. Linda Stubits expressed resentment about these items coming up at the last minute. She said the district should have begun developing a comprehensive safety plan last September instead of springing it on the board at the last minute. Riker got angry at this, accused her of insulting him and said he had been developing a safety plan all year long with his school administrators. Kenneth Butz accused Stubits of caring nothing about the safety of the students. Twenty minutes later Stubits asked for a written copy of the comprehensive safety plan and Riker said there wasn’t one. (Editor’s Note: I attend 90% of the School board meetings and the first time I heard about safety equipment was June 11th) Riker continue to ramp up the fear mongering making it clear that, should anything bad happen, the school board would be held responsible. When Roberts asked if the same security for day time events was going to be applied to night time events, Riker had to admit it wouldn’t. The chaos was so out of control at one point there were 3 motions on the floor with the solicitor doing an impression of a rock who’d never even heard of Robert’s Rules of Order.

Correction: I initally identified the solicitor at the June 18th board meeting as Gary Brienza. Mr. Brienza did not attend this meeting, James Zulick attended in his place behind Mr. Brienza’s nameplate.  I apologize for the error.

A re-vote was taken on Item H and passed 6 to 2 with Stubits and Glaros voting no. But hey, the school district owns a $111,000  backhoe now along with all its requisite maintenance costs.

Summer Maintenance

Construction and repairs this summer include relocating the power cables and adding storm drainage under the Baseball field; roof drains and a new roof on the High school, new roof and classroom HVAC units in Butz Elementary along with new carpets and paint.  Room 381 in the high school will have its floor resurfaced and a water heater replacement.

Agenda Items

Items IV, VII & IX passed. A link to the agenda and minutes can be found here: https://www.nazarethasd.k12.pa.us/Page/1024

 

Becky Bartlett covers these meetings because citizens have a right to know what their government is doing.

 


3 thoughts on “Drama & Dysfunction on Parade at the Nazareth School Board

  1. I’ve known Dr. Riker for years and he’s a reasonable man. There’s no way he wouldn’t have explained, or been asked to explain the purpose of these items for security, though the writer omitted that, because it sounds more scandalous.

    For instance, the police vehicles. The district now has their own officially recognized police department, with officers stationed at each of the secondary schools for immediate response. They are all within three miles of each other and the district police respond to fights and threats of violence first, to immediately stop it and avoid having to involve the local police departments, who are already stretched thin with coverage.

    People have gotten so confrontational anymore and this blog post was written like a mainstream media hit piece on the President. This is local politics, with people who are our neighbors and friends. They’ve served us for decades, both the superintendent and board members. Dr Riker is at every school program, event, is always available to parents and makes sure to greet the children at elementary schools on the first day, every year. None of that is in his job description (administrative leadership) and turns his work weeks into 60-80 hour weeks with meetings included, year round. Mrs. Stubits and Mr. Butz both spent their careers working with children, retired, then choose to continue advocating for them on the board. Board members get paid virtually nothing, with it being all about service to the kids.

    None of these people are villians or are using their positions to makes themselves rich. It’s all about the kids and though they have different opinions and it gets tense at times, that’s because they care passionately about what they do.

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    1. I attend these meetings and record what I see there. As a taxpayer, I don’t appreciate paying $111,000 for a backhoe which, Dr. Riker admitted, the district only needs a few times a year. (Currently, the rental cost is $10,000/year). Also, I’ve complained for years to the school board about the lack of a safety plan for children to cross Friedenstahl Avenue even after a child was struck there by a car a few years ago. I find it ironic that taxpayers have to shell out close to a million dollars (we paid $330,000 last year for security equipment) when the board can’t be bothered to come up with a plan to safely move the kids between the schools. All the improvements you’ve seen recently–the reduced speed limit on Friedenstahl Ave., the painted cross walks, the surveys–the supervisors of Upper Nazareth Township did that. The school board has been missing in action.

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  2. I used to attend NASB with some regularity and what was scandalous was what the local papers would NOT report on. No they (the board) are not making themselves rich. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t oft times make horrendous decisions. What we have are sincere honest people who volunteer but are sometimes way out of their league when it comes to handling other people’s money. It’s OK, the property tax millage will go up as it always does and Harrisburg will continue refuse to fix the current unworkable system.

    What I mean when I say it’s scandalous what isn’t reported: (from 2011)

    https://ccnasd.wordpress.com/about/

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