EAST PENN SCHOOL DISTRICT
The East Penn Board of School Directors’ appetite for updates on the district’s school meal programs was satiated at the Feb. 12 meeting.
Regional Manager Vicky Stahr and her colleagues from The Nutrition Group presented a PowerPoint outline of how they handle both nutritional needs and food-related educational needs of East Penn students.
For the elementary schools, there is “Wellness Wednesday” where once a month, the students are given a taste-testing opportunity combined with nutrition education.
“Lucky Lunch” scratch-off tickets for a chance to win a free snack or prize are offered to middle school students who purchase a reimbursable meal.
At the high school level, “Farm to Fork” provides locally-grown produce from September through November, ending with a harvest feast. “Recipe of the Month” features homestyle foods.
Food service director Paul Vlasics from The Nutrition Group described the health fair they have held annually at Lower Macungie Middle School in conjunction with the Emmaus Public Library. He said they have been involved in this event for 18 years.
Jill Bergman walked board members through The Nutrition Group’s online menu, demonstrating how to filter selections for allergens, count carbohydrates and fiber, as well as using the translator option.
Board member Charles Ballard said, “They have, in my opinion, brought this district from somewhere in the 19th century to somewhere in the 21st century over the course of the 18 years that they have been managing our food service.”
Board President Alan Earnshaw echoed the praise with, “We greatly value the partnership we have with The Nutrition Group.”
Board members and those in the audience were invited to sample small servings of a kale Caesar salad and a banana split sundae cup after the meeting.
During his district update, Superintendent Dr. J. Michael Schilder recognized seven Emmaus High students who placed in the Lehigh Career and Technical Institute’s 2018 SkillsUSA.
“I was blown away by the complexity of the competition and the scope of the competition,” Schilder said, who had attended the regional event in January. He also honored several district students and a teacher for various accomplishments in scholarship and athletics.
Emmaus High School Athletics Director Dennis Ramella’s retirement, effective June 30, was approved by the directors. Schilder paid tribute to Ramella’s 45-year career in education, with 19 of those years serving the East Penn School District.
The board also accepted the resignations of Emmaus High Head Track and Field Coach Daniel Wessner, effective Feb. 6 and Eyer science teacher Jordan Decker, effective March 30. Vice President Ken Bacher commented Wessner “had made a difference in a lot of kids’ lives.”
Amid accolades from Earnshaw, Assistant Superintendent Kristen Campbell was reappointed for a 5-year term beginning July 1 through June 30, 2023.
The board voted 8-1 in favor of hiring Pennsylvania School Boards Association to search for and vet candidates to fill the school superintendent vacancy that will be left by Schilder when he retires at the end of the current school year. Voting “yes” were Earnshaw, Bacher, Ballard, Alisa Bowman, Paul Champagne, Chris Donatelli, Ziad Munson and Adam Smith. Carol Allen voted against the resolution. The contractual cost for the service is $4,000 for the search and $1,000 for thoroughly vetting the finalist. A limit of no more than three finalists was agreed to.
A temporary professional assignment for Tierney Peake as a third grade teacher was granted by the board. Peake replaces recently resigned Amanda Theis at Shoemaker Elementary School.
The board approved an addendum resolution to authorize the appropriate school officials to sign off on documents agreed to in 2016 involving the Spring Creek Properties settlement subdivision.
During a request to address the board, Emmaus resident John Donches praised State House Bill 1531 requiring agendas be posted 24 hours ahead of a public meeting, with no addendums permitted afterward. He reported the bill was “languishing in committee.”
Smith asked for input on creating a cohesive set of “Board of Directors Goals” for each school year. Ballard and other members said it is the superintendent’s job to run the district with the board providing oversight. Bacher mentioned the board typically sets goals for the superintendent at the end of the school year for the next school year.
Schilder explained there are three components for establishing district goals.
Starting with a comprehensive multi-year plan, the goals then funnel down to the district instructional leadership team. The third component involves a process for setting goals for school principals which align with the comprehensive plan.
Smith asked if there was any interest for a board retreat. He was informed board retreats were generally held to address communication problems or if the board was dysfunctional.
Ballard reported he and Champagne visited the National School Boards Association Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. While there, they found out the new federal tax law impacts a district’s ability to refinance school bonds. They also mentioned the proposed federal budget would kill all Title II funding for school districts and teacher colleges.
The school board held a first reading of current board policy updates.
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 will be held Feb. 26 in the board room of the administration building.
It was announced schools and offices will be closed Feb. 16 and 19 for Presidents Day.