East Penn Press

Monday, February 24, 2020


Thursday, January 25, 2018 by ed courrier Special to The Press in Local News

Outlook bright on preliminary 2018-2019 budget

The East Penn Board of School Directors got back to work examining the administration’s 2018-2019 preliminary budget presentation at the Jan. 22 meeting.

Vice President Ken Bacher presided while President Alan Earnshaw was away on business. The Jan. 8 meeting had been canceled because of snow.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Schilder and Business Administrator Robert Saul budgeted $2.8 million for the district’s tier one needs. These include full-day kindergarten, phase two of the technology plan, upgrading the kindergarten through sixth grade published math program and completing the elementary science program revision. The budget allows for the hiring of a sixth grade teacher for Lower Macungie Middle School for content area specialization, an elementary English as a Second Language teacher, a special education teacher for Emmaus High School and two additional instructional assistants for the high school to assist with student remedial needs.

Also included is a budgetary reserve of 5 percent of the total budget while increasing capital reserves by $1.3 million without exceeding the Act 1 base index of 2.8 percent.

“There are district needs that I call tier two,” Schilder continued. “They are not included in the 2018-2019 budget.” He said approximately $180,000 is needed to replace the district’s outdated student management system. Schilder expressed hope that while working to keep any possible tax increase down, “Maybe we can still sweep in the student management system.”

A resolution not to exceed the Act 1 Index was adopted by a vote of six in favor and two opposed.

Schilder and Robert Saul advocated the measure to keep any proposed tax increases at or under 2.8 percent for the 2018-2019 budget. Expressing worry about the ongoing unpredictability at the state and federal levels regarding school funding, Directors Paul Champagne and Ziad Munson voted “no.” Directors Ken Bacher, Carol Allen, Charles Ballard, Alisa Bowman, Chris Donatelli and Adam Smith voted “yes.”

After listening to what Ann Thompson of Lehigh Carbon Community College’s Board of Trustees described as an “amazing deal,” the directors unanimously approved relocating LCCC’s Donley Center from its Hamilton Street address to North Sixth and West Linden streets. The satellite campus would occupy a recently vacated part of The Morning Call headquarters in a real estate swap. Thompson said the new site offers larger areas for classrooms and room for future expansion. Up to 100 dedicated parking spots in a parking garage across the street would provide an additional benefit to students.

In other business, Schilder said implementing online ticket sales for school musicals, concerts and dances is a top priority. He said although there would be no cost to the district, ticket prices would increase by approximately $2 to pay for the service. Whether purchased online or at the box office, the price would be the same. Tickets for sporting events would still be sold only at the box office.

Schilder reported he and Dr. Denise Torma had recently met with State Sen. Pat Browne, R-16th, State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-134th and State Rep. Justin Simmons, R-131st, to voice their concerns on issues impacting the school district.

When questioned by Smith about the district’s interest in “No More Zeros,” Schilder said they are still in the discussion phase of standards-based grading. Assistant Superintendent Kristen Campbell explained, “We are first looking at our general assessment and grading practices.”

Schilder announced the district has been recently honored by the College Board with placement on the eighth annual AP® District Honor Roll.

EHS Student Government Association representatives Sophie Pickering and Alex Comfort provided updates on recent sports successes and other extracurricular activities.

The board accepted the resignation of Shoemaker Elementary School’s fifth grade teacher Amanda Theis, effective Feb. 15.

A temporary professional assignment for Kayla Gurst as a special education teacher was approved by the board. Gurst is to replace Audra Krakoski at LMMS by March 26. Krakoski recently tendered her resignation.

During a request to address the board, Emmaus resident John Donches expressed interest in a Nutrition, Inc. presentation that had been scheduled for the Jan. 8 meeting which was canceled. “I think that the free and reduced lunches were really increasing,” Donches said. “It would be good to get that report at least once a month.” He again advocated for videotaping board meetings.

The directors voted unanimously to appoint Smith to the Lehigh Career and Technical Institute Joint Operating Committee to fulfill Rebecca Heid’s unexpired term through December 2019. Champagne, Donatelli and Earnshaw also serve on the JOC.

Ballard reported the state legislature has its hands full with the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that the commonwealth’s gerrymandered political districts violated the state constitution. The lawmakers have until Feb. 9 to redraw the districts. “We’ll see how they’ll fumble this one,” he quipped.

Ballard asked his fellow board members if they would consider supporting the Pennsylvania School Boards Association resolution to oppose State Senate Bill 2. According to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, State Senate Bill 2 is “An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, providing for education savings account; and conferring powers and imposing duties on the Department of Education and the State Treasury.” Ballard promised to submit it for the next meeting’s agenda.

The school board quickly approved and adopted school district operations policy series 900 – Community: Part 2 of 2, policies 913-921 after a third reading.

An executive session was held 7 p.m. on labor relations 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 Feb. 12 in the board room of the administration building.