East Penn Press

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Wednesday, December 13, 2017 by ED COURRIER Special to The Press in Local News

The comeback kid: full-day kindergarten passes 6-3

The East Penn Board of School Directors got back to regular business Dec. 11. This time, they met with a majority of members favoring the administration’s full-day kindergarten proposal which had been defeated Oct. 23.

Newly elected board directors Adam Smith and Alisa Bowman, Board President Alan Earnshaw and Ziad Munson voted “aye” on Paul Champagne’s motion to “approve the alteration of the district’s educational program by eliminating its half-day kindergarten program and replacing it with a full-day kindergarten program for all kindergarten classes in all district elementary schools beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.” Joining them in voting “aye” were Vice President Ken Bacher and Paul Champagne.

Still opposed to the implementation of full-day kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year were Carol Allen, Charles Ballard and Chris Donatelli. Ballard criticized the process involved as “paltering.” He defined the word as “using truthful facts to deceive.”

Champagne’s motion passed 6-3. Several in the majority found fault with Ballard’s assessment, saying the process was “not underhanded.” They agreed one of the surveys in the presentation was biased, but the other data they considered reliable.

Prior to the vote, requests to address the board regarding reconsideration of full-day kindergarten was granted to several in the audience. Jen Reidy, Alison Brocker, Brian Costello, Christie Waddell, Maureen Falcone, Jason Parrish, Stephanie Smartschan, Amy KaKaley, Wesley Barrett and Christine Moscartoly enthusiastically voiced support for all-day kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year. They cited academic and socialization benefits for the students as well as the elimination of transportation headaches for working parents.

Jen Reidy, the mother of six, praised the full-day program’s ability to have enough time for both academics and for “skipping, galloping and those kind of large body movement skills.”

Jason Parrish said, “I believe implementing full-day kindergarten for all families is a matter of morality. If we believe in a community-driven public education, this will help make sure all children are afforded a fair opportunity.” Parrish is the father of a 5-year-old daughter.

Amy KaKaley, an educator at Parkland who lives in Lower Macungie Township, provided board members with writing samples and statistics supporting the success of the full-day Parkland program. KaKaley has three children, two of which will be attending kindergarten in East Penn.

A mother of three, Jennifer Blackledge asked “What is the rush?” She chided the directors for seeking to implement the program for 2018-2019. She requested they rework the plan to accommodate parents who would prefer a half-day kindergarten program for their children.

School Superintendent Dr. Michael Schilder and business administrator Robert Saul presented an early look at the 2018-2019 budget outlook to the school board. They included the implementation of full-day kindergarten, a 1:1 integrated technology environment, improving the district math and science curricula and maintaining compliance in English as a second language and special education. The administration’s budget is projected to maintain appropriate levels of fund balance and budgetary reserve while increasing capital reserves without exceeding the Act 1 base index of 2.8 percent. Schilder promised a budget update for the Jan. 22, 2018 meeting.

Schilder announced his intention to retire at the end of the current school year, effective June 30, 2018.

The board also approved retirement for Technology SMS Coordinator Michele Readinger and Eyer Middle School custodian Gwenda Benner, effective early January 2018.

The resignations of special education teachers Danielle Graf from Emmaus High School and Audra Krakoski from Lower Macungie Middle School were also accepted by the directors.

Newly-appointed EHS Supervisor of Special Education Sandra M. Joseph was warmly greeted by the board. Joseph was approved to replace Meredith Frantz who transferred to another school.

A temporary professional assignment for Briana Luancing as a biology teacher was also approved by the board. Luancing is to replace Justin McNicholas at EHS effective Feb. 12, 2018. McNicholas recently resigned.

The school directors were pleased to accept a donation in the amount of $2,874 initiated by the Van Den Elzen family in support of the autistic support program at Eyer Middle School. They praised the efforts of Macy Van Den Elzen who raised money for every “kill” she scored by spiking the ball during volleyball season.

The directors unanimously approved Statistics and Probability CP (full year), AP World History, Government CP, Economics CP, Marketing 2, Print Media, Digital Media and Computer Integrated Manufacturing as courses to be added to the curriculum for the 2018-19 school year at EHS.

Ballard reported the state senate will be voting soon on a new voucher bill that would take funding away from under-performing public schools and give it to charter schools. They are also considering passing a mandate for Pennsylvania students to pass what Ballard views as an unnecessary “citizenship test.”

The school board quickly ran through their second reading of school district operations policy series 900 – Community: Part 2 of 2, policies 913 – 921.

Fermata Nowhere entertained the directors with a comic a cappella rendition of the “12 Days of Christmas.” The popular EHS boys vocal group is directed by Rita Cortez.

An executive session was held 7 p.m. on real estate 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 Jan. 8, 2018 in the board room of the administration building.