EAST PENN SCHOOL DISTRICT
The East Penn Board of School Directors selected two new members June 11 during a special public school board meeting.
Emmaus resident Seth Flanders and Macungie resident Allan Byrd were chosen from 10 applicants to replace two school board members who gave up their seats because they were moving out of the district. The other candidates interviewed at the special meeting were David Heiser, Craig Hochbein, Jeffrey Jankowski, Kevin Kelly, Kenneth Klicker, Joshua Levinson, Terry Richwine and Diane Schaffer. Two additional applicants, Cory Myers and Saleha Syed, had earlier withdrawn from the race.
Flanders, an Air Products employee and former school board director, was appointed to replace Chris Donatelli with his term expiring December 2019.
Byrd, a retired lead engineer from Alcan will be sworn in June 25 to serve out the remainder of Alan Earnshaw’s four year term.
All of the applicants expressed similar views on the importance of public education in providing equal opportunity for students in order to create a strong work force and functioning democracy. Each took their turn addressing issues about class size, ongoing professional development for faculty and staff, as well as effectively communicating district goals and needs to parents and residents.
When questioned by board member Paul Champaign on how a district could work to close the achievement gap experienced by minority and low-income groups in core subjects like math, language arts and reading, Flanders replied, “The gap does not lie with the East Penn School District. The gap begins at birth.” Until that is addressed, anything else “would be playing catch-up the entire time,” he concluded.
Citing his background in manufacturing, Byrd answered with, “Look outside of our situation.” He added, “Go out and look at other systems, at how they are bridging this gap.”
School Director Charles Ballard praised all who volunteered to apply for the vacancies as, “one of the best crops of candidates for a board position appointment I’ve seen in 24 years of being on the board.”
Ballard and Earnshaw encouraged those who had not been chosen to run when additional seats are up for election.
The special board meeting began 6 p.m. to allow enough time to interview the candidates interested in filling the two board vacancies before the regularly scheduled meeting. June 11 was Alan Earnshaw’s last day serving as board president. He will be moving to Richmond, Va. where his employer transferred his job. Donatelli’s resignation was effective May 14.
In other news, Kristen Campbell was named by the school directors to fill the shoes of departing School Superintendent Dr. Michael Schilder at the regular school board meeting. Campbell, one of two finalists for the position, had previously served the district as assistant superintendent. Her new position as superintendent begins July 1 with a starting salary of $157,000 and a five-year contract.
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 June 25 in the board room of the administration building.