EAST PENN SCHOOL DISTRICT
The East Penn Board of School Directors began its Sept. 11 meeting with a moment of silence in remembrance of those who perished in the terror attacks this day in 2001, as well as those victims of the recent onslaught of natural disasters.
School Superintendent Dr. Michael Schilder was pleased to announce from the 567 students who, on the first day of school, were not in compliance with the new state regulations regarding immunizations, “as of Sept. 8, that number was down to zero.” He publicly thanked Dr. Thomas Mirabella, school nurses, administrators, administrative assistants and the parents for their efforts in making it happen.
Enrollment in East Penn district schools for the current school year is at 8,098, up from 8,058 students enrolled at this time in 2016, according to Schilder.
Schilder informed the board members “Opening week, as well as the week after, has been very smooth.” He remarked the teachers are energized and the students and staff are happy. Schilder praised the maintenance and custodial staff “for getting our buildings up to speed.”
Emmaus beat Dieruff in the first football game of the season, Schilder said, but was touched by what happened afterward. “The coaches and athletic department decided to present the game ball to our new principal Dr. Kate Kieres as a thank you and acknowledgment for the fine work she has done already,” he told the directors.
Director Carol Allen requested clarification on how the Trust Agreement of the Health Benefits Consortium works before voting on it. East Penn Business Administrator Robert Saul explained that as part of a group of 11 area school districts and educational institutions, East Penn is able to maximize benefits while reducing the costs of group medical and prescription insurance. Saul reassured Allen if one member pulls out of the group, that member would have to pay a 10 percent penalty. The remaining members would not be penalized. The directors then voted unanimously to approve the Trust Agreement of the Health Benefits Consortium effective Jan. 1, 2018.
A request to address the board was granted to Paul McGoldrick who asked the directors to consider raising the rates for substitute instructional assistant positions. He cited the higher rates Parkland School District pays for comparable positions and added those vacancies fill quickly while it takes longer for East Penn to find qualified candidates. A substitute instrucational assistant himself, McGoldrick said he felt the $9.95 per hour starting rate was well below the $14.75 or so per hour instructional assistants earn who work 29 hours a week.
On personnel matters, the board accepted the resignation of Emmaus High School health room nurse Darcie Dagenbach effective Aug. 25.
A full-time substitute assignment for Michael Engler as an autistic support teacher was approved by the board. Engler will cover for Erin Haddigan at Wescosville Elementary School during her leave of absence, effective Sept. 12.
The school board completed a third reading and adoption of school district operations policy series 800 – Operations: Part 2 of 2 and series 200 – Pupils.
Director Charles Ballard said the state house returned from recess to Harrisburg Sept. 11, with the senate scheduled to return later. The legislature remains at an impasse with the senate passing a package which raises taxes to fund the state budget while the house proposes to look for “loose change” elsewhere to pay for it, instead of a tax increase.
“It’s an extremely tenuous situation,” Ballard reported, “We do not know yet what’s going to happen to the payments that we’re due from the state as a school district, as part of the funding of our budget.”
An executive session was held 7 p.m. on confidential matters prior to the public forum.
The East Penn Board of School Directors meet regularly 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 25 in the board room of the administration building.