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School Board Approves $2.4 Million in Field House Renovations

Stadium and soccer field improvements were also given the green light by the Saucon Valley School Board at their latest meeting.

After fervent discussion and two failed motions, the Saucon Valley School Board voted to approve $2.4 million in field house renovations at its Dec. 6 meeting.

The motion passed with a vote of 5-3. School board members Sharon Stack and Lanita Lum changed their votes to yes after discussing safety concerns, while school board member Edward Inghrim was absent for the vote. The three "no" votes came from members Mike Karabin, Susan Baxter and Bryan Eichfeld.

“,” board member Sandra Miller said, addressing fellow school board members before the last vote. “We are failing to do our duty with (these) drawn-out discussions.”

Miller said the issues related to renovating the field house have been discussed at least three times over the past four years.

“The field house is disgusting. It needs to be fixed,” Lum said. “(But) I don’t like the fact that in this economy, we are adding 3,000 square feet.”

She explained that she changed her vote due to safety concerns, but said she does not want to see a tax increase or programs sacrificed due to this project.

“Expanding in this economy doesn’t make sense,” said Eichfeld.

“I don’t know how relevant the economy is at this point,” school board member Ralph Puerta said. “There are still going to be kids in the school in 10 years. We’ve got to do something with it.”

Renovations will include improvements to the heating and air conditioning systems, and plumbing and electrical systems. In addition, there will be renovations to the locker rooms and visiting areas, as well as the construction of an addition that will house the weight room and public restrooms.

The school board also approved stadium upgrades suggested by the district’s insurance carrier at a cost of $147,000.

Soccer field drain removal was also approved at a cost of $57,000.

The school board did not approve replacing the stadium's current cinder track with  (at a cost of $457,500), nor did they approve replacing the field hockey field (at a cost of $271,810).

In other business, the school board voted to allow superintendent Sandra Fellin to advertise for the position of an all-in-one band and chorus director. Fellin said there may not be someone out there who is able to do both and be a good fit for the district, but said she would like to at least look. If someone is found to fill the position and the consolidation of the current middle and high school positions is approved, it would eliminate band for fourth grade students.

In a letter that was later posted on the Saucon Valley School District website, Fellin said the combining of middle and high school directorships is only "one 'option' for board consideration."

"I asked to see if such a person might be out there, so when positions are taken into consideration for replacement, I would have an answer if asked if we could reduce staffing," she wrote.

If no suitable candidate is found by January, "the board would need to decide between the remaining options of replacing both positions or replace with one full time band and one part time chorus," she added.

At the meeting, Fellin and principal Eric Kahler also announced two changes they would like to see at the high school.

They are looking at taking away a few art classes and providing pre-engineering classes instead. Fellin said the classes that would be cut would be jewelry-making classes.

Also, Fellin said she would like to have a dean of students at the high school to help assistant principal Lorie Gamble deal with numerous small infractions occurring everyday, so that Gamble can do more than just discipline students. The person in mind is a middle school math teacher and the creation of the position would not cost the district any money, according to Fellin.

GrowUpSaucon December 12, 2011 at 11:47 AM
SV said publicly our bus stop was moved because "our bus had to be resuced on several occassions". We received the accident reports this week . The District absolutely DID have 18 accidents in 2 yrs. time frame. NONE of which were even remotely close to where we live. Please tell EVERYONE , SV why is again YOU are PROUDLY placing our children in arms reach of a child r*pist again?? Thank you for answering to us. Brian & Paula& Angel&Sonny&Gail&Jeff&Cindy &Marisol&Ryan&Laura&Ed&Janice&Jessie&Abbie&Anothony&Patt&Wayne&Danielle&Frank& Lori
Terri Simpson December 12, 2011 at 04:08 PM
Very Interesting is it not. See nothing will ever change because no ACCOUNTABILITY schools are part of government and if you haven't been watching we have a country that has a spending problem out of control. How about doing away with trips, pensions, raises,cut vacation time sick time of the people we employ.The school says it's for the children so let's cut out the goodies that administration and teachers TAKE and pay for the stadium that way. Why not they all take a pay freeze for 2 yrs take away all master programs funds why should we pay for that???? let them play by the rules most do. But that would not be FAIR. Not too many jobs that you can get all these perks BUT you can if it's not your money. Yes we must start a group to abolish school boards because they mean nothing to the tax payer it is a yes position and about some sort of ego trip to be on it. How interesting Gamble wants to put kids in a tattle tail position to rat on kids for small infractions. Maybe someone should tattle on them I am sure there is plenty of dirt we could find. I cannot believe that a school wants to have kids do this to there peers. Well nothing surprises me with this whole crew. No leadership what we have is a joke just a one-way street that is not what makes a great school for children.Saucon has a long history of corruption and boards that go along to get along no guts whatsoever!
Susan Y December 12, 2011 at 05:30 PM
“I don’t know how relevant the economy is at this point,” school board member Ralph Puerta said. Ralph, people can't pay for their mortgages now, how do you think its going to impact the community when our taxes go up? THINK. and stop being reckless with our money. Everyone has to pinch pennies, the School District should be no different.
Terri Simpson December 12, 2011 at 09:36 PM
Deaf ears all they say is YES WE CAN YES WE CAN tax the taxpayer and too damn bad! Instead they should have a leadership that has a open forum for the parents and taxpayers to come up with ways to pay for anything that cost so much. We could have much for the children BUT we have most of it going towards paychecks ,pensions, payoffs for bad administrators and trips and master programs. Merit pay abolish school board no more 5 yr contracts 2 yrs then a vote by the taxpayers accountability that would be strange idea that the schools would have to answer to the ones that employ them If you had some accountability our schools would change quickly if the taxpayers had the power to vote them out not the unions just think if people demanded this but sadly people say nothing and they get screwed.
ralph December 13, 2011 at 12:17 AM
My comment regarding the economy was as follows: We have problems at the National level with debt, trade imbalance, financial sector abuses, social program insolvency, and the inability to agree on a budget. It is unlikely that our political leaders will have any answers for the next ten years. However, we in our small school district do know for sure that we will have a school and students over that time period. And we, unlike the other levels of government, must face that obligation with a balanced budget. Therefore, my point, and the quote cited, was that the larger National issues do not change the fact that we need to repair a field house that is currently in dis-repair after forty years, and will not be usable at all in another ten years if we do not fix it now. There are valid criticisms of every vote that we make, because there are no perfect answers. We have studied this project for three years. During that time we saved the money to pay for the repairs. As a result, we hope to sustain this piece of the campus for another thirty years.
Terri Simpson December 13, 2011 at 12:58 AM
Ralph, spoken by a true board member it's only tax payer money small towns are the heart and soul of this country Government has no money we supply it with our sweat and you TAKE it because you can and no accountability. You may be right it is in desperate need of repair find the waste and pay for it that way not taxing the taxpayer more. Suggestion how about not paying Fellin 139,000 a yr and perks 5 yr contract and the other ridiculous spending cut down on benefits the REAL world people do not have white collar welfare they actually have to earn it.School Boards are a big joke YES WE CAN is all we hear the taxpayers are out of the equation. It is truly disgusting to watch we are spending this money with NO input from the citizens what you mentioned it at a meeting. Everyone of you should be ashamed of the behavior that is displayed at those meetings condescending rude and deaf eared to the public. We have people losing their jobs and elderly that are struggling and every month it's a million or two what are you not getting.
GrowUpSaucon December 13, 2011 at 02:14 AM
139,000.2.4 million. Gosh all we need from these intelligent decision makers, WHO OBVIOUSLY KNOW WHAT'S BEST FOR OUR CHILDREN, is a bus stop & route away from a child rapist. __truth be known, there are 8 near this fabulous new bus stop! I am pretty sure that route change of a block and a half would have killed somebody and the cost...........WELL, we estimated about an extra $5.oo /month IF THAT. Thank goodness for their "DUE DILEGENCE" , don't know what we would do without it.
Arthur Joel Katz December 13, 2011 at 01:55 PM
It is odd for me to find myself in agreement with the board's three conservatives (Baxter, Karabin and Eichfield) along with two of my constant critics (Bach and Simpson) that the decision to spend a fortune on athletic facilities is wrong. In an article on Patch a few weeks ago I urged that all school supported athletics be abandoned in the interest of saving approximately one million dollars that the athletics cost. Had that suggestion been adopted, it would made any appropriation for athletic facilities unnecessary. On the other hand, many of the anti-board comments are foolish. The superintendent is not overpaid. Her salary is relatively modest in comparison to her peers. The notion that the board is controlled by the administration is ridiculous. The idea that the board does not listen to taxpayers is equally ridiculous. I can testify, from six years of service on the board, that the board hears endlessly from taxpayers, especially at board meetings where the taxpayers often scream at the board. Few dissenting taxpayers seem to understand that there is a vast difference between being heard and the board deciding to do whatever the dissenting taxpayer wants. Board service requires a good director to take many factors into consideration to provide the best education for our children. It also requires a good deal of time without any compensation. Even if you disagree with them, as I do on this issue), opposition should be civil.
ralph December 13, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Re Allan's questions, there were some improvements on the field house made during the campus construction, but the basic systems (heating, plumbing, electrical) are in need of replacement and the decking (seating) leaks into the building. The "money saved" was funds put into savings over the last five years for many purposes, including this type of repair work.
Terri Simpson December 13, 2011 at 02:50 PM
Joel, the children do deserve to have upgrades but ONLY if the board looks into other ways to cut the budget and not keep taxing the residents. It is our money, there is no magic money tree and you can tax the rich all you want and this will turn into NJ and people will find another place to live. Fellin gets a nice check for what she does it in no way is modest and if Superintendents around the country are making these extreme salaries it should stop. I seem to recall in Bethlehem that they paid a big salary for that so educated person in charge and was doing crack and watching porn got caught with his pants down. I also recall our own school and it's corruption money gone. The schools are taking advantage of the taxpayers and the unions. Why does it not surprise me you were once a board member. It is not ridiculous to think that the board is controlled I was personally told by two board members that they will not go against the school even if they disagree due to the politics. The school board mocks and is rude and very unprofessional ( It is the job of the school board to listen if they don't like the heat get out) opposition should be civil yet the board does not heed what you are saying. I am not surprised by the lack of understanding you feel sorry for a pedophile so of course you would defend the horrible leadership that is going on. I do remember you being on the school board and I wrote to you about the spending you dismissed me and very rude what a surprise .
GrowUpSaucon December 13, 2011 at 04:32 PM
Yes we have sreamed,begged,pleaded,cried,we showed facts,we have done everything.The sad part is,these people think they are to be treated with respect but don't need to be respectful-this is how you get irrate tax payers.Why must we debate placing our children in arms reach of a pedophile or 8?Where is the debate?The bus avoided several accidents at this new stop-we haven't had that in 15 yrs.@the old stop. Too much congestion there in the morning-people trying to get out to go to work,a bus picking up kids & all of our cars in an extremely small area.They don't want to pay for our children,they are not worth the lousy couple dollars of extra gas top go a block &a half. This bus stop was moved because SV is trying to save $ on transportation...contradicting......2.4MILLION.They said the bus was rescued several times & this was well documented-THEYLIED!Accident reports PROVE otherwise.So WHY is the District challenging the fate of our children?NO IDEA.How demoralizing for our District to know that they are not willing to shell out a few dollars to reroute a bus so kids are safe from 8 pedophiles YET they can put out $2.4 MILLION DOLLARS for something we OBVIOUSLY NEED SO MUCH MORE .
Steve December 14, 2011 at 06:47 PM
Allan, run for the board. We got Bryan elected and we will do the same for you. I've had enough of this "They want, they deserve, they get" school board phiiosophy who lack any common sense when it comes to considering the basic long term cost/ benefit analysis. We ALL want things.... but common sense says we have to use some intelligence to set our priorities. But those who voted YES feel it's so easy spending someone elses money based upon naive rhetoric. So the real reason why this passed it seems is: 1) "We are failing to do our duty with (these) drawn-out discussions.” 2) "The field house is disgusting. It needs to be fixed,” 3) "We’ve spent years discussing buildings that are not appropriate for children to be in,” So the key words are "disgusting, not appropriate, drawn out discussions". This rhetoric should not be the basis for spending $2.4 million. More and more of our citizens are getting fed with up this board. Hopefully the next election will displace a few of the current lemmings who feel that spending based upon naive rhetoric is fine and funding shortages with debt is a fine way for a community to prosper with someone who actually understands the basics of proper capital expenditures and allocation based upon intelligent facts.
GrowUpSaucon December 14, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Perhaps both, Terri and Allan could run. You two defiantely have a spine and do what is right for the taxpayer. You both have our vote!! :)
George December 15, 2011 at 02:04 AM
You are one stellar parent, Paula. Why don't you sue the state for letting the "sexshul predatur" for moving near you? Hmm?
George December 15, 2011 at 02:06 AM
None of you exhibit the maturity to serve in an elected position, or in any position of leadership and responsibility. You simply fire comments away on a patch message board without accountability. Sort of like me.
George December 15, 2011 at 02:08 AM
yes, a defiant spine is what is needed. you people do realize that there is a state-wide association of school-boards that coaches all of the board directors on how to do their job. Do you think that most of them are actually qualified when they are elected? For god' sake, if KATZ was elected, there really is no prerequisites....
Terri Simpson December 15, 2011 at 02:12 AM
Grow up Paula, reveal yourself coward are you the pedophile or a school board fake why do you feel the need to be hateful.
GrowUpSaucon December 15, 2011 at 02:39 AM
That's alright Terri. They don't bother me. Actually, I had another meeting today with the some Representatives and YES, I will keep going forward and trying to pass HB1971, among other things. Some silly fool won't stop me from protecting my children. What a pathetic life it must be to be a coward & behind a name just for the fun of bullying a mother for trying to have the school district move her children away from "8" pedophiles. Life will still go on.
Dennis Scholl January 05, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Can't find a fairly measly amount of money for music education, but the Saucon taxpayers are being asked to pony up $2.4 million for athletic renovations. I don't comprehend that amount of money, nor do I like it. I wouldn't like it even if Saucon produced good teams, which they have not as of late. If you're asking people to fund athletic renovations, then I guess you should be ready for comments about the quality of the athletic programs. Not that winning on the high school level really means a whole heck of a lot in the first place. The Board's decision to spend this amount of money is abhorrent. I'm in agreement with Terri Simpson about administartors' pay levels, too. This is Hellertown and Lower Saucon Township, folks, not Shangri-La.

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