Board names so­lic­i­tor for tax col­lec­tors lit­i­ga­tion

News-Herald (Perkasie, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Meghan Ross

The Pen­nridge School Board passed a mo­tion ap­prov­ing John E. Fre­und III to be­come the so­lic­i­tor to han­dle the on­go­ing le­gal is­sue with the dis­trict’s tax col­lec­tors at its meet­ing Mon­day, Oct. 22.

“[Fre­und will] take over lead­er­ship of this ef­fort as we move for­ward,” Vice Pres­i­dent Duane Dem­ing said.

The dis­trict’s tax col­lec­tors’ com­pen­sa­tion rate had been cut by 69 per­cent, a move that the tax col­lec­tors said was done to drive them out of the job so the dis­trict could use a bank lock­box. This al­ter­na­tive sys­tem of col­lect­ing taxes cuts out the mid­dle man and would cost the dis­trict less money.

The State Supreme Court ruled in Au­gust in fa­vor of the dis­trict’s tax col­lec­tors and in fa­vor of the Cen­tral Bucks tax col­lec­tors who were in the same sit­u­a­tion. Cen­tral Bucks tax col­lec­tors’ com­pen­sa­tion had been de­creased by 79 per­cent. The tax col­lec­tors are now seek­ing back pay in an on­go­ing le­gal is­sue.

Fre­und’s ap­point­ment means that

the Pen­nridge and Cen­tral Bucks school dis­tricts will have sep­a­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the on­go­ing case.

The Pen­nridge School Board also met on Mon­day to ap­prove tech­nol­ogy pur­chases and book pur­chases for the dis­trict’s mid­dle school lan­guage arts pro­gram and high school English classes.

The board ap­proved the book pur­chases, which to­taled $16,600, and the tech­nol­ogy pur­chases, in­clud­ing a Mi­crosoft li­cens­ing project, pro­fes­sional con­sul­ta­tions from Mi­crosoft and lap­top and com­puter re­place­ments, for a to­tal of $312,534.79. Other pur­chases the board ap­proved in­cluded a dis­trictwide in­ven­tory re­fresh and ap­praisal for $42,500.

The board also ap­proved the con­tracts the fi­nance com­mit­tee pre­sented. How­ever, board mem­bers Sue Fur­long and Frank Peif­fer op­posed the mo­tion to ap- prove two 50-minute pre­sen­ta­tions by Ed Gerety, a lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment speaker. The price of these two pre­sen­ta­tions to­tals $3,500, and they will be paid for us­ing the gen­eral ac­count of Pen­nridge High School’s stu­dent coun­cil.

“I just think that’s be­yond the pale — $3,500 for 100 min­utes. We’re sup­posed to be stew­ards of the funds,” Peif­fer said. The mo­tion passed 5-2. The ap­point­ment of Matt Smith as the di­rec­tor of cur­ricu­lum and in­struc­tional tech­nol­ogy, with a salary of $116,989, sparked a de­bate within the board.

Fur­long sought to ta­ble the mat­ter un­til De­cem­ber’s school board meet­ing so that there could be more time to con­duct a wider ex­ec­u­tive search for the po­si­tion. She said she thought Smith would do a good job, but she did not feel enough can­di­dates had been in­ter­viewed.

Pres­i­dent David Thomp­son sought to have Smith pro­vide a spe­cific vi­sion for the next five years, in­clud­ing what he would like to ac­com­plish in that time frame. Thomp­son said pro­vid­ing a vi­sion would be im­por­tant to give di­rec­tion, mo­ti­va­tion, fo­cus and to set a pace.

Fre­und ad­vised the board to es­tab­lish job ex­pec­ta­tions, which would in­clude Smith’s vi­sion, then hold him to the ex­pec­ta­tions.

Peif­fer and Fur­long op­posed the mo­tion to hire Smith, but the board passed it, with Thomp­son not­ing he ap­proved as long as Smith set up specifics of his vi­sion by De­cem­ber.

The board also ap­proved the fund bal­ance com­mit­ments for the 2012 year, which to­taled $11,641,416. The money was di­vided into six com­mit­ments, in­clud­ing cap­i­tal projects, fu­ture re­tire­ment rate in­creases and tech­nol­ogy in­fra­struc­ture up­grades.

The school board’s next meet­ing will be Mon­day, Dec. 3.

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