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New Hope-Solebury Facilities Committee recommends $28M campus revitalization

new hope free press nhssd revitalizationWednesday’s New Hope-Solebury School District Facilities Committee meeting included a detailed presentation of three campus revitalization plan options, the culmination of nearly three years of committee, subcommittee, and public discussion.

After listening to the presentation and public comment, the Facilities Committee moved unanimously to recommend acceptance of option “2b” by the New Hope-Solebury School Board.

All of which means that the end of a long, contentious process is drawing nearer, and it’s time, if you haven’t already, to start looking at the fine print of the revitalization project proposal.

Fortunately, the New Hope-Solebury School District seems to be keeping up with the digital times, and is providing a complete online set of documents on the revitalization project. These include the Campus Revitalization Plan Options document, Facilities Assessment & Infrastructure Budget Upgrades, Option 1 Budget ($36 million), Option 2a Budget ($25 million), and the recommended Option 2b Budget ($28 million).

New Hope-Solebury School District Superintendent Dr. Raymond J. Boccuti said in a statement, “We are seeking to responsibly address needed educational upgrades for the future, to responsibly address aging infrastructure concerns, and to responsibly address the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations in a fiscally prudent manner that will not incur additional tax burden.”


About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • Charlie, I think we just have two very different definitions of “flaming” on the internet – but I have a ton of respect for what you do with this site and for your work, so I’ll gladly go with you on this one.

    I’ve seen attacks and accusations made against the Superintendent, the school board, and most importantly the kids of this town in these comment sections for a couple years now – and they’re either unaware of it or too smart to bother responding. I just finally got sick of it, and along with some others here had to speak up. I don’t consider that flaming any more than making passive aggressive attacks against people that aren’t here to defend themselves is.

    With that said, this will be my last post in this thread. It’s pretty clear that I’m going to change Mel’s mind, and he’s not going to change mine. In fact, if we’re being honest, I think we’d be hard pressed to find the last time an internet comment thread changed anyone’s mind on an issue.

    As for the issue at hand, I’m not too concerned. The revitalization plan is going to go through. I’ve read through it, and my guess is that the final plan will be in the $24-25M range – there’s about 3-4M in there that seems negotiable, and my guess is that they went with the “B” plan because it gives them some wiggle room to make a few symbolic “cuts”, instead of starting from the cheaper option from step one. It’ll go through, and all the moaning will be for naught in the end.

    As far as the cheap shots against the kids in our community I’ll only say this –

    The data continuously puts their achievements in the top 1% nationally (even the top 0.5%, but who’s counting). They go on to good colleges – Ivy’s, elite liberal arts colleges, top state schools, etc – in overwhelmingly large numbers.

    As four wise old Brit’s once said, The Kids Are Alright.

    • William, thank you, I can tell you’re a class act, and appreciate anyone taking time to read my meager rag, let alone comment. My admin-type warning you’ve probably figured out wasn’t directed at you specifically, but just wanted to make sure thread didn’t degenerate. Here’s kind of the definition of flaming I work from, but I play a lot of this by ear: “An online argument that becomes nasty or derisive, where insulting a party to the discussion takes precedence over the objective merits of one side or another.” Things sorta seemed headed that way. But it’s a hard call, which I’m sure I won’t always get right. One thing we always have to get right is not letting things get so hot that someone’s reputation is being damaged intentionally, although being an official of a public organization changes that a bit. In any event, I think the issues and debate surrounding budgeting and major capital improvements are vital. I have kids in the system, whom I want to see get a decent education, but also don’t want to leave with an ever-increasing tax burden when I pass my humble house to the next generation. I love to hear all sides of this issue b/c I think intelligent debate is informative and helpful. These issues will be here awhile. I hope you stay part of the conversation. 🙂

  • William, we are usually very permissive around here on commentary, but please reword your submitted post to make non-personal and address issues. You have as much space as you need to state your opinions, but we can’t allow flaming.

  • Mr. Sahner’s remarks are right on. Actually,I don’t mind people attacking me on a personal level, because it shows me and the readers their frustration in dealing with and accepting the truth.

  • Really Mel? You sit here on the internet dumping all over this town, the school district, and the kids EVERY chance you get. If I didn’t know better I’d assume you were just another internet troll, but alas we’re not so lucky.

    And now you’re resorting to making legal threats against people that would dare say anything against the angry old town curmudgeon? Your threat most certainly proves your statement that you’re not an attorney, because that’s the dumbest, weakest thing I’ve ever heard. The best you’ll get is to pay someone to send a cease-and-desist that holds no water, just so you can keep thinking you’re somehow the voice of ANYONE other than a cranky old minority in this town. There are most certainly no laws against paraphrasing someone for dramatic effect – but keep making your stupid threats. Their comments don’t even approach the level of libel and I think you must know that – you’re an angry old crank, but I don’t think you’re stupid enough to believe that yourself.

    As for the ridiculous report you keep harping on – those reports aren’t taken seriously by anyone other than the organizations who’s funding relies on them and private interest groups/lobbyists who use them to push legislation keeping money rolling their way.

    The major problem with those reports is always the same –

    There is an inherent bias to all self-reported surveys on illegal activity. In affluent areas where people have not experienced family members and friends repeatedly arrested or imprisoned for simple things like marijuana possession, people are more more comfortable reporting such behavior. Even though it is anonymous, there is a fear amongst populations that have such experience (poorer areas, minority neighborhoods, etc) in admitting to such behavior – because they have first hand experience with relatives and friends serving time for the same exact “crimes”. Communities who feel threatened always under-report, and affluent communities who feel no such threat tend to report more honestly. This has been the same since the Nancy Reagan era started this madness.

    If you look at our student’s achievements or spend any time with them your assertions look like the world’s worst joke – these are largely well educated, well mannered students – not the drugged out zombies you seem to be asserting in some lame attempt to crap all over them because you hate seeing national publications continue to publish data rating them in the top 1%.

    Reading your comments I can never figure out why you live here. You seem like you’d be so much happier in some dustbowl town in the middle of nowhere where people are still trying to relive 1955.

    • Going to interject here to avoid having to delete future comments from posters: Great minds stick to ideas, small minds focus on people. Let’s keep this thread on the issues at hand and their merits, not individuals and their motives or characters. In short: No Flaming.

  • Don’t know where you get your data Mel but it’s not from PAYS. Even that self-serving, conflict-of-interest-having body doesn’t rank schools on drug use. And no I didn’t use quotes like the other posters so I guess I’m safe from your libel suit…but you clearly responded on Oct 3 to a poster who lauded the #3 ranking with a mean-spirited, non-sequitur, low-class cheap shot calling our kids among the biggest druggies in the state. I’d take you up on your drink invitation, but I know you would never kick in to the bar tab.

  • As far as Ed lynch and Mike Gange’s statements about what I said about drug use among the students,they should do themselves a favor and look up the definition of libel-to lie in writing about what a person said and to know that it is a lie.
    Ed Lynch stated that I stated, ” Yeah, but our kids are druggies.” And Mike Gange stated that I stated, “New Hope kids are druggies.” Now I am not an attorney, but I will certainly show their comments to an attorney.
    Mr. Khan, on the other hand, while criticizing me and the survey about drug use was smart enough to know you don’t attribute statements to someone who never made such statements.

  • Regarding Imran Kan’s Statements about drug use, let me reiterate. Mr.Lieberman and Mrs.Lang were simply the messengers reporting on what the students said, many of whom had first hand knowledge of drug and alcohol use in the district. As far as comparable stats from other districts,there certainly are stats which show we are near the top in the state which prompted Board member Jonathan Adar to state and rightfully so, what’s the good of being tops in in the state in academics when we are also up there in drugs and alcohol.
    As far as the statement that there has been no increase of drug and alcohol use in the last 100 years, WOW, that’s a sobering fact. I guess we should simply hoist up the white flag, open up a keg, kick back and get high.

  • I have attended a number of these meetings and the opposition does not seem to be against the $2.8 Million in requested renovations. The HVAC system is covered under the Facilities Upgrades budget (another $3.35 Million). The opposition seems to be with $7.1 Million in additional building and $10.66 Million in additional Infrastructure. Surely some concessions can be made to make this a more attractive budget. I attended NHS during the last wave of construction and can honestly say it was hell. It is not easy to focus in a dust bowl while I beams are being pounded into the ground. Please take the time to look at the budget, $277,200 for a nurse’s office strikes me as excessive. For instance don’t fill in the Butterfly Courtyard and poof I’ve save $201,600. I intend to send children to NHS myself and I am for improvements What I am against is unnecessary spending.

  • Mel…Lieberman and Lang’s PAYS survey is a survey of students who self report on drug, alcohol, tobacco use, etc. It’s sponsored by something called the “PA Dept of Drug and Alcohol Programs” whose mission is to work to insure a steady stream of tax dollars to fund their own organization. Guess what this esteemed organization concluded? Kids in high school experiment with mind altering substances. Thank you State of Pennsylvania for that brilliant insight! So did high school kids when I was 18 and 100 years before that. These surveys show no increase in drug use over time (by Lieberman and Lang’s own admission), and there are no comparable stats to other school districts. Get your facts straight Mel and find another reason to take CHEAP SHOTS at our schools and our kids. I’d like to give YOU an Melvin

  • Regarding Mr. lynch’s statement that Mr.Lieberman and Christine Lang’s data is not credible, can Mr.Lynch produce compelling and substantial data that would negate the data from Mr. Lieberman and Ms. Lang? If so let him produce it. Furthermore, the data that Mr. Lieberman and Lang presented came from surveys of the students wherein the students remained anonymous. The sobering fact is that not even Supt. Boccuti, the master of spin,could give the results of the survey a positive spin.
    As far as Eric Lynch’s personal attacks, well, what does that say about his credibility? Not much.

  • Mel…I think Eric made the point on your specious comments on “New Hope kids are druggies”. Yes, you should be ashamed. Re your other 2 points: You bemoan the #3 ranking in that we spend more per student. Not sure where you get your data “highest in the state”. But I’ll gladly pay a couple more hundred for this whether I have kids in the school or not. Yes I take pride in this town and the quality of our people including our young people. Not so much for the thousands I pay for your retirement and the rest of your union/administrator add-no-value make-work ilk. And as to your claim that all the NH parents are spending thousands on private tutors…that is the height of ridiculousness. You should really try to find a more productive hobby.

  • Mel I’m actually disappointed in you for that comment. Your response to a very positive ranking…”yeah but our kids are druggies”. That’s really beyond the pale dude. Never mind that your citation of Lang and Lieberman who have no real credible data on which to base their accusation. Anyone who follows these posts knows you’re a glass-half-empty old crank. But I kind of liked reading your stuff. But that is the post of a monumental d-bag.

  • Mel, you’ve got to stop acting like you’re the voice of “the taxpayers”. We’re ALL “the taxpayers”, and guess what – we, the taxpayers, LIKE our school board. In fact we voted for them and that’s why they’re there. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.

    We DIDN’T vote for the Libertarian wolf-in-sheep’s clothing that you were supporting last year. We “the taxpayers” didn’t want a guy who sends his kids to a rich private school to come in slashing budgets because he thinks “apps” and the Khan Academy are replacements for the great work our teachers are doing.

    And many, many of us in the district (gasp!) LIKE the superintendent. We LIKE the results he’s getting.

    And yes – small class sizes and money spent often translates to strong achievements in our school districts. So what’s your point? Let’s slash some budgets, fire some teachers, double the class sizes, stop investing in the district, and then say “See, I told ya so!”? And to your point about “competing with private schools” – many of us came out of the lowly public schools in this area (and not all that long ago). Many of us went on to very good colleges. Many of us now make comfortable livings where we were able to move back to these beautiful towns and buy houses and property and raise families here…these public schools served us well. And they’ve only gotten better in the 15 years since some of us graduated. We appreciate how they served us, because we’re now doing well – and we’re happy to pass it along to the next generation.

    • William do you realize in the 15 years since we graduated the annual budget has increased about 220%. This is not a matter of firing teachers or increasing class sizes. In fact the number of students enrolled is projected to be stable for the next 5 years. What this is a matter of is identifying and vetting the best possible improvements to the school and implementing them rather than spending a large sum of money on non-essential items. I encourage you to go over the proposed budget. I agree that we should pass it along to the next generation. However we owe it to them to be fiscally responsible while we do it.

  • As far as William G’s comments regarding the high rankings of the students, should anyone be surprised considering the fact that(a) the amount of money spent on each student is among the highest in the state which accounts for a very low class size thanks to the taxpayers. In fact, the class size in our district is lower that half of the private schools in Bucks County.(b) Parents, not all of them wealthy by any means, spend thousands of dollars having their kids tutored resulting in higher scores that make the administration look good.
    Now here are some sobering facts.ONLY public schools were considered in the ranking, not private nor parochial schools with kids that sooner than later will be competing with our kids in the job market.
    And the most sobering thought of all was stated two years ago during a presentation on the Pa. Safe Schools Report by then former high school principal, Christina Lang and David Lieberman, the head of the district’s Student Services at a school board meeting. The report’s survey showed that in the consumption and use of alcohol and drugs,our district’s kids were near the top in the state to which Board Member Jonathan Adar stated and Rightly So- what’s the good of being near the top in grades when we are also near the top in drug and alcohol assumption? I wonder if William G. will also concur and look at the whole picture.

  • Regarding Susanne Muldowney’s remarks. Only a blind person would not be able to see that the physical plant is in much need of repairs, because much of that is due to the ongoing negligence of the administration that believes in Deferred Maintenance as evidenced by the fact that each year they set aside ZERO dollars for maintenance.The zeros are right there in the budgets year after year after year. Instead of putting money aside each year for future maintenance which is the smart thing to do, The game plan is to let the physical plant go beyond the point of repair and build new by getting money from floating a bond that will put our community in debt for years to come.
    Also there is the sad fact that since the superintendent refuses to have adult supervision present in the locker rooms when students are present, it is an open invitation for vandalism. Just look at some of the pictures the district has posted of the inside of the locker rooms. You can’t tell me that twisted doors and busted tiles are the result of normal wear and tear. Perhaps Ms. Muldowney would like to come to the next school board meeting held on Oct. 20th wherein she can express her views.I am looking forward to seeing her there.

  • Snore…the resident town crank has shown up to moan about his taxes as usual. Mel, unlike you our town is proud of our school system and it’s accomplishments. You only show up to whine in the comments section to try to smack down everything the school board does – where were you to pat them on the back when Newsweek rated NHS #3 in the state and #58 in the entire NATION a few weeks ago? Surprise surprise – didn’t bother to comment then. The stingy old crank routine is getting really tiresome.

  • Edifice complex. That’s a good one Mel. But c’mon man have you been in the HS lately? The 50s called and they want their architecture/physical plant back. At what point would you EVER be in favor of investment in our school district? I get it, you’re retired without kids and you have no skin in the game. Very myopic. Your predictable anachronistic borderline Luddite screed has grown tiresome.

  • To understand how bizarre the thinking of the Board is with the cart before the horse, consider this scenario.You are a defendant in a lawsuit. Before the jury has heard all of the evidence,especially first hand testimony from material witnesses that can significantly impact the outcome of the case, the jury foreman makes a proposal during a break in the action.
    He hands out a slip of paper to everyone, asking them to put down an amount of money the injured party, the plaintiff, should be awarded. He then takes an average which will be the amount the jury will go with.
    When the judge hears what happened and confirmed,he declares a mistrial. All the jurors are dismissed and no doubt their would be legal consequences for all of them, especially the foreman.To Prejudge is derived from the word prejudice.It has no place in our society.
    Well guess what. This scenario ACTUALLY happened at a New Hope Solebury Finance committee wherein the chairperson gave out slips of paper asking the members to put down an amount that they would be comfortable with spending for the Revitalization plan-the average of which turned out to be in the low $20 million dollar range.This $20 million range was bumped up to $25 million with the committee finally choosing the $28 million which it will present to the Board on Oct 20th without hearing testimony from all material witnesses.
    I ask you, was justice being served? Were the rights of the taxpayers being served by this “Cart before the Horse” action. Absolutely not! And to look at the financial background of some of the board members and the colleges and universities that they have attended, has to leave you scratching your heads as to how this can happen and begs the question how can they vote without a full vetting of witnesses.

  • The reality of the situation is that the school board and the administration, in my opinion,are knowingly putting the cart before the horse.Their game plan is to get the money first which in this case is the 28 million dollar plan AND then decide how to use it if indeed they have to use this total amount at all. They use a scare tactic , “Quick, Hurry up, the window is closing. If we don’t go for a loan now at low interest rates, we will be forced to get a loan in the future for much higher rates.”
    Many times, in person, at meetings and by email, I have asked the Board and the administration to vet the people who know the best as to what the district needs in terms of facilities only to be constantly stonewalled by the Board and the administration. The people who know the best as to whether the district needs to build an additional gym are the phys ed teachers. likewise, the security guards, all former law enforcement agents, know best when it come to issues of security. The Board and the administration are very fearful that the phys. ed teachers and security guards would tell the truth which is we don’t need an additional gym nor costly security upgrades which would negate the edifice complex of build, build, build which is engulfing the powers that be.

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