Budget Hearing 2 : May 8, 2000
Minutes





BETHLEHEM AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT	                                    MAY 8, 2000
BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS BUDGET HEARING #2


BUDGET HEARING #2

The Bethlehem Area School District held a Budget Hearing on Monday, May 8, 2000,
beginning at 6:08 p.m. in the Auditorium at East Hills Middle School, 2005
Chester Road, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


MEMBERS PRESENT

Members present:  Directors Amato, Craig, Glancy, Heske, Koch, Leeson, and
Williams - 7.  Members absent:  Directors Gallagher and Venanzi  - 2.


OTHERS PRESENT

Others present:  Thomas J. Doluisio, Superintendent of Schools; Stanley J.
Majewski, Jr., Board Secretary; administrators; members of the press and other
interested citizens and staff members.

Director Glancy reminded those present of the procedure.  There will be a
presentation by the administration responding to the list of questions developed
at the first budget hearing.  There will be questions and comments from the
board.  The audience will have an opportunity for questions and comments.  If
questions cannot be answered during this meeting, answers will be supplied at the
next meeting.

Mr. Doluisio stated that Director Amato had asked where 4.0 new supplemental
custodians will be allocated.  Dominic Villani stated schools receiving
additional supplemental custodians will be split between Asa Packer, Clearview,
Fountain Hill, Freemansburg, Governor Wolf, Lincoln, Miller Heights, and the two
high schools.  An increase of one security person is also in the same budget
classification

Mr. Doluisio explained that the board asked for various budget scenarios which
would reduce the amount of proposed millage increase.  A handout was provided
showing four categories yielding the amounts of money to be possibly cut
(available at Business Office).  The total of deductions included is $2,041,987
or .91 mills.  Budgetary reductions beyond these would need to be generated by
eliminating teaching positions, resulting in increased class sizes.   Mr.
Doluisio stated if something must be cut from the expenditures, he would hope the
board only consider Category 1.  The administration is not volunteering those
cuts.  If the administration felt those items should be cut, they would have been
cut from the original proposed budget. Cuts beginning with Category 2 would
directly affect some educational and non educational programs.  Category 3 is
more serious in terms of impact on children. Category 4 is even more serious than
Category 3.  The increase in class size is the worse case scenario.  He hopes, if
anything must be cut, that cuts are kept within the confines of Category 1. 
Categories 2, 3, and 4 need to be protected as much as possible by the
administration and board.


Director Amato questioned In-School Suspension in Category 3.  The total is
$378,000.  He asked if we did not receive some county funding for that program.
Mr. Doluisio replied that the first year the district received approximately
$12,000 from the county, although it was anticipated that $50,000 would be
received.  Director Amato stated there had been a presentation about county funds
and Last Chance or different types of Second Chance academies.  He asked if this
would have been part of that.  At the Vo-Tech meeting, it sounded like Saucon
Valley and Northampton had funds coming in for such an academy.  Mr. Doluisio
stated that Second Chance Academy is an IU program located in Saucon Valley that
services students from all three school districts. When he talked to the county
about the fact that the district received only $12,000 in 1998-99, their response
was that they have funded Second Chance Academy instead of providing for the
CA/MP program as the district had hoped.  The district has three students there.
Mr. Doluisio reminded the audience that the district made an attempt to
de-emphasize reliance on alternative education and rely on both the CA/MP
program.  There was a time that the ALPHA program had 72 students from Bethlehem
and a waiting list.  This year enrollment has fluctuated from three, four, and
five in Second Chance Academy.

Director Amato asked about the In-School Suspension program.  Mr. Doluisio stated
this is its second year in existence.  Prior to CA/MP, we had a middle school
alternative education program with two teachers, and we suspended our students
out of school.  Now, students are suspended into CA/MP.  Money from staff savings
in the middle school alternative education program is invested in CAMP.

Director Amato inquired about home schooling suspended students.  Mr. Doluisio
replied that students on home suspension for 10 days or less are not required to
be educated.

Director Amato asked, prior to going into the CA/MP program, what it cost with
the students suspended to their homes.  Mr. Perfetti stated when the ALPHA
program was in place, there were 72 high school students assigned to it.  The
program cost was about $408,000.  When the alternative ed program was at
Northeast, 36 students were serviced at the cost of three teachers -
approximately $150,000.  The CA/MP program, as of about three weeks ago, had
serviced 1,480 students.  Basically, the district traded the two programs
servicing 108 students for the entire year as opposed to working with over 1,500
students who get in trouble periodically.  Prior to the Student Code of Conduct
and prior to CA/MP, there were 1,800 students suspended four or more times.  That
number is down to less than 200.

Director Amato asked how many teachers are involved with the In-School
Suspension.  Mr. Perfetti responded that 6.5 teachers are involved.  Mrs. Kostem
added that another .5 teacher is paid for by Title I, making a total of seven
teachers.  There are three teachers who work with students assigned on a
day-to-day basis.  There is a teacher who deals with sixth and seventh graders.
Another teacher deals with eighth graders.  A teacher deals with the ninth and
tenth graders.  There is a learning analyst, a school psychologist, a behavior
analyst, a family case manager (non-teaching position), and the facilitator.

Director Amato stated when the Code of Conduct was instituted, we knew we would
be confronted with how to handle these types of students.  He wondered if we have
seen a decline in the four years of practicing the Code in students getting into
this type of alternative program.  Mr. Perfetti stated that the statistics tell
us very clearly that the number of students who are being suspended numerous
times has significantly decreased.  The number of students who have been
suspended once, however, has increased.  The 72 who used to be enrolled at ALPHA
for the entire year are now at Freedom High School.

Director Amato asked, with the investment of $378,000 to have these students in
In-School Suspension and continue their education, out of the number stated to
have gone through the program this year, how many will have a successful academic
year in either meeting standards or meeting an acceptable grade point average. We
need to see that a great percentage of those students have kept their academics
up and progressed acceptably.  Mr. Perfetti stated students who have been
suspended once or twice are not typically tracked; however, students who are
suspended three times on are called potential habitual offenders.  They are
tracked every year.  Last year's report showed significant gains in their
attendance, behavior, and academic performance.  The same report will be made at
the end of this year.

Director Craig commented that you will always have students who are going to get
suspended.  There is a big difference between the ALPHA students and the students
who go to CA/MP.  CA/MP students can be "A" students who did something wrong and
got a day or two of suspension.  That is what the CA/MP program was designed for.
It was also designed as an answer to complaints from the community that students
have been suspended and have a "vacation."  It really had nothing to do with
ALPHA or the alternative ed program.  It answers a need for something different
than what ALPHA and alternative ed were designed for.

Mr. Doluisio added that the LA/MP program has a role to play in the total picture
of these students.  The combination of the CA/MP and the LA/MP programs, for
students the district does expel, is having some degree of impact in a positive
way on the students.

Director Craig stated there may be some confusion about the two programs within
the community.  The  LA/MP program is designed for students who are expelled.
CA/MP is for students who get suspended and is not designed for the habitual
offender, ALPHA student, or students in alternative ed programs.

Mr. Doluisio explained that CA/MP has an academic maintenance component.  Work is
sent with the student to the program.  At some point there is a therapeutic,
evaluative component.  LA/MP was instituted because it was more expensive to
operate the old way.

Director Leeson questioned Category 2 - Academic Interventions, asking
specifically what it is.  Mr. Doluisio stated we have $500,000 in a line item
called Academic Interventions.  This is part and parcel of our Academic Standards
Program.  Students who cannot meet standards through various means of assessment
are given extra help.  It is basically a tutoring program.  The reason all the
money has not been expended is that last summer the program needed to be geared
up to start.  It is a very important component of the Academic Standards Program
for the children who cannot meet standards the first time through and need
additional interaction with the teacher in the morning before school, afternoon
after school, and on Saturday.

President Koch explained that when she asked for a list of possible reductions,
she asked for things that would not impact on the educational program severely.
Something like that would really do damage to the New Standards program.  Mr.
Doluisio stated that is true.  It would really reduce the ability to remediate
students through these interventions.  He stated, as he interpreted the
assignment, it was to show the impact of cutting the budget up to and including
$4,500,000.  As stated earlier, Category 1 has minimal direct impact negatively
on students.  Once you get into Category 2 and upward there will be more and more
direct negative impact on students.  The assignment could not include $4,500,000
in reductions without impacting students.  The more money we need to cut, the
more direct negative impact will be to children.

Director Leeson questioned if the Gettysburg Experience is funded by the
district.  Mr. Doluisio responded that staff at East Hills and Northeast raise
some private funds.  The district put in some funds for the Gettysburg
Experience.   He gave the teachers credit for raising some money to make this
program work.  The district is the major funder of the program.  Director Leeson
asked where the Gettysburg Experience is found in the budget.  Mr. Doluisio
stated the teachers involved are embedded within the staffing budget.  Additional
funds needed have come from district reserves which he (the superintendent)
controls.  The monies are not earmarked Gettysburg Experience but are in other
line items.  Mrs. Kostem added that a Michael Jordan Grant was also received for
$2,500 to be used towards the Gettysburg Experience.

Director Craig asked if the David Project costs the district extra money.  He
stated each school has a certain number of teachers working with the David
Project.  If they weren't working specifically with the David Project, they would
still be on the staff.  Mr. Doluisio stated that is correct.  The David Project
was begun with the ninth grade program at Liberty and Freedom.  One of the
inducements provided to the teachers was extra time to develop the program,
develop the business partnerships, and monitor students' progress.  During the
first year of the David Project, the ninth grade teachers at Liberty and Freedom
taught one less block a day.  The second year, this year, the David Project was
moved to tenth grade with the same arrangement.  That came to approximately eight
teachers extra.  In next year's budget, he is proposing to reconfigure the tenth
grade and let those teachers teach the normal tenth grade teacher's load.  The
budget has been reduced by 3.3 teachers by doing that.  The ninth grade David
team is being proposed for a reduced schedule next year which may result in four
or five teachers extra because of the reduced teachers' load of one block.
Director Craig asked that if a large number of students from our high schools go
to Vo-Tech for the day, if we would save some teaching positions.  Mr. Doluisio
stated, as he understands it, the teachers will teach two classes and there will
be a class in the shop.  The teachers will be in the shop program, also; thereby,
eliminating potential savings.

Director Amato wished to clarify that next year's budget includes four teachers
at Freedom High School and eight teachers at Liberty High for the David Project.
He asked how many teachers are involved in the David Project this year.  Mr.
Burkhardt stated Liberty has 15 teachers and Freedom has eight teachers in the
project.  Director Amato stated that next year we plan to have a total of 12
teachers between the two high schools - four at Freedom and eight at Liberty,
forgetting about whatever will be happening at Vo-Tech, resulting in a reduction
of 11 teachers.  Mr. Doluisio explained that the tenth grade students still must
be taught so there still must be an allocation of staff.  The second block of
preparation is being taken away.  These teachers will not have that second block
free which costs about 3.3 teacher.  We still have to provide seven or eight
teachers for the tenth grade students.  There will be an actual savings of 3.3
teachers for the tenth grade David Project.

Director Amato asked for implications and the savings that would result if in
both high schools the David Project was eliminated.  Mr. Doluisio replied that
there would be 3.6  less teachers.  Director Amato wondered if it would affect
the overall education process if these students returned to the mainstream.  Mr.
Burkhardt stated that within next year's Liberty freshman class of between 750
and 800 students will be the largest special education population the high school
has probably ever seen.  A lot of work has been done in the last month to try to
move a number of the mildly handicapped students out of special ed class into the
David Project environment so that they could have the benefit of getting their
instruction from content-specific teachers and to move them into a more
mainstreamed situation.  He believes if the David Project is eliminated in grade
nine that kind of mainstreaming will not be possible for these students.  The
huge advantage for that group of students is to give them another year of teaming
such as they had in the middle school and, hopefully, have a successful
transition from middle to high school for them.  Mr. Villani agreed with Mr.
Burkhardt's opinion on the David Project.

Director Craig stated he has been there and knows the need of that situation for
those students.  There is a definite advantage for instruction to those students
in having people with them all day they are familiar with and comfortable with.
It is a program that pays dividends by the time the students are juniors.

Director Leeson asked for clarification of Testing in Category 2.  She asked
exactly what testing is being referred to for $40,000.  Dr. Nelson stated it is
money put aside to add additional system-wide assessments as they are reviewed.
For example, now the new MAT 8 is being reviewed.  Mr. Doluisio stated the goal
in the next three or four years is to have quality assessment tools in place at
each grade level.  That money is seed money to help expand the assessment
program.  The current assessment program can be continued without that money.

Director Leeson asked for an explanation on Debt Service to the Buses in Category
3.  Mr. Majewski stated there are reserve funds that are scheduled next year to
use for payment of additional buses the district will be purchasing.  These same
funds can be used to pay for debt service.  This means that we would not replace
buses next year, but use those funds to pay for debt service.  That would take it
out of the general fund; thereby, reducing the cost to the general fund, but
eliminate bus replacement.

Mr. Doluisio reminded the board of concern about the three areas which are still
off budget.  Buses are not in the budget.  Part of the debt service is not in the
budget and is being paid for with some reserve funds.  About $300,000 for school
technology is not in.  These three line items totaling about $1,100,000 are all
off budget.  Ideally, these ought to be in the budget.  They were not included
because it would add another one-half mill impact.  To take out the buses would
mean to take part of the debt service out of the budget and put it into an off
budget line item and pay for it with one-time money.

Director Koch asked about the $10,000 for Monogacci in Category 1.  It has been
her understanding that this is an extremely popular program with students on a
waiting list for it.  Mr. Doluisio stated this amount is for expansion of the
program and for supplies.  The current program will not be negatively affected by
this reduction.  This money would be to seed some other schools that would want
to get involved.

Director Venanzi referred to page 82 - Testing.  If you take $40,000, it is about
a quarter of that budget.  She asked how you would propose to do what we have
been doing with one-quarter less.  Dr. Nelson stated there were some building
issues last year, some battles with Psychological Corporation over incorrect
bills.  The actual $40,000 would be, as Mr. Doluisio mentioned, seed money for
additional testing to be put in place for standards.  Mr. Doluisio stated that
because of the dispute with the company the $167,000 is actually a payment for
two years.

Director Venanzi asked the millage impact for all categories to be itemized for
the average home owner.  Mr. Majewski supplied the various reductions:  Category
1:  .1 mills - $5.51, Category 2:  .14 mills - $7.71, Category 3:  .41 mills -
$22.39, Category 4:  .26 mills - $14.33, and total savings to the average home
owner with all reductions - $49.94.

Director Craig questioned Category 1 - Budgetary Reserve $75,000.  There was some
confusion between Fund Balance and Budgetary Reserve.  Director Craig wanted to
know if money could be taken out of Fund Balance.  Mr. Doluisio stated that in
Category 1 Budgetary Reserve is a contingency reserve.  Mr. Majewski stated there
are monies that we continue to carry in our Fund Balance.  It is on the low end
of what would be required to be maintained by board policy, but there still are
funds available.  Director Craig asked what could be taken out of there and
applied towards this budget to still keep the district in a decent situation with
the Fund Balance.  Mr. Majewski stated he would not feel comfortable doing so.
Director Craig asked about the percentage of the budget recommended by the state
to keep as Fund Balance.  Mr. Majewski stated recommendations from a number of
sources range from 3-1/2% to 4% to as high as 8% or 9%.  The Fund Balance
currently is close to the 4% mark.

Director Leeson asked what it costs to collect the two nuisance per capita taxes.
The district receives $240,000 from each one.  Mr. Majewski stated the bills cost
about $4,000.  Computer time and handling time are costs that would be occurring
whether there was a per capita tax or not.  The district is still netting about
$470,000.  The cost of collecting per capita taxes would be approximately
$10,000.

Director Heske asked if there are any unused properties the district would be
able to sell.  Mr. Doluisio stated there is one significant property in Bethlehem
Township on the corner of Farmersville Road and Freemansburg Highway, between 12
to 14 acres.  Director Koch stated that this subject has come up before.  One of
the objections to it is the fact that it would provide just one-time money and
then the district would not have the property if it would need to build.  Mr.
Majewski stated another consideration is that sale of lands and other fixed
assets cannot be used to offset millage increases in the general operating
budget.

Mr. Doluisio stated that Director Williams had asked the true value of district
properties.  Mr. Majewski stated the question is more difficult than it seems.
The appraisal company, for insurance purposes, uses the figure of $296,000,000 as
the insurable value for property and buildings.

Mr. Doluisio stated that Director Amato wanted the increase in high school
teaching staff included in the budget defined.  Mrs. Kostem provided a handout in
response (available at Business Office).

Mr. Doluisio stated Director Amato had a question regarding  the list of budgeted
positions.  Mrs. Kostem stated the administration had discussed the Northeast
technology position with the board previously.  Originally allocated at East
Hills Middle School was a teacher who would be six-tenths technology and
four-tenths Spanish.  This year the teacher was reassigned to be eight-tenths
technology and two-tenths Spanish in that there were fewer seventh grade students
who signed up for Spanish than anticipated.  An additional teacher resulted at
Freedom High School because Mr. Villani sought to consolidate some classes so
that a social studies teacher might be released for a period per day to continue
working on curricular issues, the David Project, and restructuring.  This teacher
is Mr. Marish.

Mr. Doluisio stated that Director Amato had asked about distance learning and
discussion had occurred about the language of the BEA contract.  Mrs. Kostem
provided a copy of the page from the contract relating to distance learning
(available at Business Office). Director Amato asked for the number of students
to have a high school distance learning class in place.  Mrs. Kostem stated it
varies, generally in the range of 20 to 28 students, even up to 30.  It depends
upon how many students have requested a particular course.

Mr. Doluisio stated that this concluded the total list of questions asked by
board members at the April 18 meeting.  He asked if there were any other
questions.

Director Amato stated that the board members are very concerned about the impact
the budget increase will have on senior citizens.  He had asked Mr. Majewski if
there was a way to reduce the burden on the senior citizens by taking a portion
of the money to send out a type of tax dependent upon job position.  Examples
would be:  president of a corporation, laborer, teacher, etc.  Senior citizens
would pay zero for this.  Mr. Majewski stated that what Director Amato refers to
is an occupational assessment tax.  In this area, that tax is not widely used,
but is used by some school districts.  By law, the county is required to maintain
assessments upon certain professions or jobs.  However, because it is so
infrequently used and the county does not have an occupational assessment tax,
maintenance of those records has not been done very well.  To move in the
direction of such a tax would require a great deal of information to be updated.
It could not be successfully implemented this year.  There is no way of knowing
exactly how out of date the county's records are.  Director Amato asked if the
district might want to look into this type of tax as a means of revenue for the
school district for next year.  It would require a lot of hard work in updating,
but at least would give some relief to our senior citizens.  Mr. Majewski stated
that, ideally, Director Amato is looking at a tax structure that will tax people
based upon their ability to pay.  The occupational assessment tax has no
relationship to an individual's ability to pay.  It is based on a job title.  Two
people with the same job title can have incomes very different from each other.
Director Amato agreed that there are some inequities.

Mr. Doluisio stated he appreciates the intent of Director Amato's question.  The
irony is that there is a tax that does this - the state income tax.  Again, the
paid legislators and governor do not want to use it to the advantage of the
senior citizens.  The latest scheme from Harrisburg is that the governor is going
to give a hundred dollar rebate to all property owners.  He has three-quarters of
a billion dollars.  Then the district has to take it away.

Director Craig asked about the tax rebate program that has been in effect for
years for senior citizens based on their income, capped at $15,000.  That $15,000
has not been increased by the state since the inception of the program.  Mr.
Majewski stated a number of programs have been put in place several years ago
that have not seen any recent adjustments.  The per capita tax exoneration levels
are still at $5,000.


COURTESY OF THE FLOOR TO VISITORS

The following persons addressed the Board of School Directors:

1.	Cheryl Bracken, from Asa Packer PTA and parent of a second grader, stated
    she has attended many meetings to talk about classroom size and tonight the 
    topic is also classroom size.  There is a petition among the Bethlehem parents 
    which has received 2,800 signatures in three days to go to Governor Ridge.  
    She has called Governor Ridge, Senator Rhoades, and Representative Stairs.  
    Senator Rhoades and Representative Stairs are chairing the education committee 
    in the Senate and the House.  She plans to deliver the petitions personally 
    and hoped to be accompanied by other district representatives.  The petition 
    is requesting that children should come first and money should be allocated 
    from the state's budget reserves to the children, not as a rebate back to the 
    home owners.

    Mrs. Bracken thanked everyone from Bethlehem for helping her:  Dr. Nelson, Mrs.
    Kostem, Mr. Doluisio, all the principals, Director Koch.

    Mrs. Bracken stated full-time elementary guidance counselors are deeply needed.
    The students really need someone to go to if they have any concerns on any day.

    Mr. Doluisio stated that Mrs. Bracken represents parent involvement at its
    absolute best.  Mrs. Bracken has been working at an unbelievable pace since 
    last fall.  She hosted a seminar at Asa Packer which he and Director Koch attended
    with several local state legislators.  She called for help in enlisting
    signatures during Parent Night.  He stated he truly appreciates her efforts on
    behalf of the children of our community.

2.	Judith Dexter, 1866 Homestead Avenue, Bethlehem, is the parent of three
    students at Clearview, Nitschmann, and Liberty.  Her topic was to add something
    to the budget.  She stated she was one of the PAC members who heard Mr.
    Doluisio's presentation.  She was struck by the fact that there were no
    additional guidance counselors.  She explained that she has experience in her
    job, as well as in the school district with her children as well as with others.
    The need for additional guidance is a screaming need and cannot be overlooked.
    She talked with the administration and realized that in a budget such as the one
    presented for consideration priorities have to be decided.  There has been no
    proposal because it is not the priority of the district administration.  Mrs.
    Dexter stated it is the priority of the students who can't speak for themselves,
    the principals, teachers, and guidance counselors.  One thing students are being
    asked at this time which previously they were not is to meet the Academic
    Standards.  That is an increased pressure for students.  It might not be such an
    increased pressure for those students who come in with everything given to them,
    a good home life, supportive parents, intelligence, all the tools needed to meet
    the standards.  It is a monumental process for many of the students in the
    Bethlehem Area School District.  Many students come in without those tools. Those
    students can probably be identified at first grade.  If there is not enough
    guidance for these students the standards project will not be successful. Through
    her job, she has learned that other school districts have guidance counselors in
    the buildings.  Senior projects, community service, meeting standards are all
    additional obstacles to graduation.  She predicts that if the guidance issue is
    not addressed now, we will be "shooting ourselves in the foot" with trying to
    have students meet the standards and raised bars in education.

3.	Patrice Stigliano, 4115 Allen Street, Bethlehem Township, stated her two
    boys go to Miller Heights.  She asked if there is a specific breakdown telling
    what the $700,000 for New Standards is being invested into.

    Mr. Doluisio stated there is $500,000 in the academic interventions.  There is a
    full-time standards administrator at a cost of about $70,000 or $75,000.  There
    are two full-time teacher trainers for about $80,000 or $90,000.  We spend money
    on testing.  There is some staff development money for our teachers.

    Ms. Stigliano asked if any of that money is going towards helping parents be
    trained to tutor the students who need work in the various subject areas.  There
    are parents who are prepared to put the time in but need something more
    formalized to get it structured.

    Mr. Doluisio thanked Ms. Stigliano for her hours of volunteer effort at Miller
    Heights.  He stated he is sure the district can provide training for parent
    volunteers at a district level and at the school level.

    Ms. Stigliano stated she was inspired by an article she read in the Morning Call
    in reference to a grant about Spanish language at Thomas Jefferson Elementary.

    Mrs. Kostem stated the article referred to the honors Spanish class at Liberty
    High School who wrote some books, took the books to the students at Thomas
    Jefferson, and taught the younger students colors, numbers, and other words in
    Spanish as a project.

    Ms. Stigliano asked who determines where the money is spent when grants are
    received from corporations.  She is trying to start a program for  children at
    elementary level to learn a foreign language.  She is in search of that kind of
    money for her school.

    Mr. Doluisio explained that, depending on the nature of the grant, there may be
    such highly structured specifications that there is not a lot of flexibility.  If
    it is written through Mrs. Cintrón's office with the cooperation of several
    principals, the district must follow state or federal guidelines.  There is also
    money available which schools are going after independent of the central office
    for a variety of things.  A lot business partnerships want to do support on
    issues.  Various schools across the district are working with foreign language
    components as an extra curricular activity.  The district can provide support in
    directing her to acquire funds for a program.

4.	Michael Shay, 650 Barclay Drive, Bethlehem, stated he was present to
    address the last item in Category #2, the Liberty High School band uniforms.  He
    has three children in the school district, all of whom are very active in the
    music programs of the district.  Two are members of the Liberty High School
    Grenadier Band and participated in the United Kingdom tour.  His daughter is an
    eighth grader at Northeast and will join the band next year.  Approximately 10%
    of the Liberty High School students participate in the band.  It is an activity
    that almost defies description, an activity that involves a level of excellence
    that very few people will experience at any time in their lives in any endeavor
    whatsoever.  The uniform is an extremely important part of that experience. There
    is something almost magical or mystical that takes place when a ninth grader puts
    that uniform on for the first time and realizes the tradition that goes with it. 
    Mr. Shay stated that the behavior of the students in uniform shows their respect
    for it.  He urged the board to not do anything in this budget or at any future
    time that will diminish a level of excellence that this school district can be
    very proud of.

5.	Joe Williams, 210 Tenth Avenue, Bethlehem, stated he is coming to the
    budget hearings to get an education.  He spent 34 years trying to educate people,
    now he wants to be educated.  He is zeroing in on debt service, which he tried to
    do at the last meeting.  He had questions for Mr. Majewski.  We are paying
    approximately $10,000,000 to service the debt.  He asked for enumeration of what
    these bond issues are that the district is paying off.  If the budget is going to
    be cut, it is not instructional or band uniforms, the big chunk is $10,000,000 on
    the debt.

    Mr. Majewski stated the approximate outstanding debt is about $127,000,000. There
    are several issues coming due at different times.  It would be more accurate to
    present that information at a future meeting.  The debt service schedule will be
    presented at the May 15 meeting.

    Mr. Williams stated he is zeroing in on what he sees is a way to not increase
    taxes.  He does not want to see a tax increase.  It is his feeling that we are
    spending a bit too much on building new schools.  Perhaps the answer is to
    stagger the building projects.

    Director Glancy stated that a list of projects completed for that $127,000,000
    can also be provided at the May 15 meeting.

    Director Leeson stated she would like to see the budget at a zero increase as
    well.  The interest rate on debt service is as low as we can get.  This is monies
    that are already spent, not projected spending.  We are committed to this
    $9,900,000 debt service.  Director Leeson asked Mr. Majewski if that is correct.
    Mr. Majewski stated in order to get the financing itself, the district is
    required to show the projects.  That money has either been spent or there is an
    obligation for that money.  The district actively attempts to get the lowest
    interest rate possible and refinances whenever an opportunity presents itself to
    lower the debt service.  That is reviewed several times a year to make sure there
    is not an opportunity that could be missed.  Those are binding obligations.  To
    cut the budget there would put the school district in default and would
    jeopardize any future borrowings.

    Director Koch asked Mr. Majewski what the total savings was when he refinanced
    debt service.  Mr. Majewski responded, "$2,200,000."

    Mr. Williams suggested that in the future the district lower the debt and thus
    lower the debt service.


ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 8:14 p.m. 

Attest,



Stanley J. Majewski, Jr. 
Board Secretary


:mg