Board names solicitor for tax collectors litigation
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.