East Penn Press

Saturday, May 25, 2019


Thursday, October 4, 2018 by loretta fenstermacher Special to The Press in Local News

Elementary School principal talks about student safety

Cheryl Scalzo, principal of Alburtis Elementary School, attended Alburtis Borough Council’s Sept. 26 meeting to discuss improving dismissal traffic patterns at school for the safety of the children, especially special needs children.

Scalzo previously met with Police Chief Robert Palmer about this and sent council a memo Sept. 14 outlining her concerns and a possible solution. Scalzo was seeking council approval.

“I have witnessed some close calls with cars driving behind buses as well as children and parents walking between buses to board cars which are parked on Walnut Street. Please know that student safety is my number one priority,” Scalzo wrote in her memo. She told council about losing a child when she was at Jefferson Elementary School and said she never wants to go through that with parents again.

Scalzo said morning traffic from 8 to 9 a.m. is OK but at the end of the school day, there is a massive exodus starting at the 3:20 p.m. dismissal and lasting approximately seven minutes which is dangerous. Her goal is to separate the buses from the cars and stop cars from parking in back of the school buses and the dumpster area. To test their solution, Chief Palmer agreed to do a trial of a new dismissal procedure Sept. 17.

“At dismissal, all cars will exit through the entrance. Cars will be permitted to go straight onto Third Street or left onto Walnut Street. The bus lot will be strictly for buses,” Scalzo suggested in the memo. Scalzo provided statistics to backup her claims which so far this has worked at dismissal.

A discussion lasting approximately 45 minutes followed. Changing or removing some of the street signs and stop signs at Third Street, Walnut Street, School Street and Chestnut Street was discussed and comments and concerns were heard from some of the eight citizens at the meeting.

Tanya Miller, of Third Street, mother of two special needs children, questioned why the flow of traffic should be changed, suggested bringing the cars out of Walnut Street and into the flow of traffic and wanted an ordinance. Dawn Gerhart, of Third Street, was concerned with student safety, cars being on both sides of the street and kids walking without parents. Another resident suggested a formal traffic study be done and Chief Palmer volunteered to do a study. Other items mentioned about traffic by the school was speeding, parents on cellphones who do not pay attention when driving and walking students without parents.

“We were concerned about this before the school was built. Read the minutes of the hearing. The school was supposed to have a guard directing traffic,” Councilperson Steve Hill said. He wanted to know why there was never a crossing guard. No one had information about crossing guards or if they are volunteers or paid employees.

Scalzo said she would look into crossing guards.

Council President Ron DeIaco requested a notice be sent out to all residents about the school and Scalzo said she would write a notice and send it to Borough Manager Sharon Trexler to send out.

Mayor Kathleen Palmer suggested Chief Palmer and Scalzo continue doing what they are doing. Someone suggested a period of two months so the people get used to it and DeIaco agreed as council is open to whatever is safest for the kids.

In other business, Chief Palmer reported starting in February 2019, countywide, the civil service rules for hiring full-time police officers has changed to a standardized, one test per year and one physical agility test per year. The borough would be charged a one time fee of $412. The candidate would have to pay $50 to be tested and their name would go on a list. If the borough wants to hire a candidate, they have access to the list. Once hired, the candidate’s name is removed from the list. The list is for full-time candidates; however, to fill a part-time position, the person can be called and asked if they are interested.

Also reported at the meeting, Macungie Borough requested the assistance of the Alburtis Fire Department for traffic control Oct. 27 or their rain date Nov. 3 for its Halloween Parade. Council passed a motion approving their request.

Trexler received a bulletin from Ayala Castor at PA.Gov. stating the borough will have to pay an annual fee to be in the safe drinking water program based on the borough’s population starting in January 2019. The water meters will have to be calibrated. A sample plan is due for chlorine residuals by October and in April 2019, all water systems will be required to maintain a 0.20 ppm throughout distribution. The annual fee for the borough is estimated to be between $1,000 and $2,000.

Trexler was notified the borough will be receiving a PA Small Water and Sewer Grant of $100,000 and there is $200,000 left from this year’s grant.

Solicitor David Knerr notified council in writing, the Commonwealth for general municipal pension system state aid sent the borough in the amount of $65,581.43. He recommended depositing $61,510.49 into the police pension plan and $4,070.94 into the nonuniformed pension plan. A motion was passed accepting his recommendations.

The Commonwealth of PA Auditor General notified the borough, according to Act 205, the borough’s fire relief is $12,002.46 which will be paid to the fire department.

The borough was notified by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, their estimated liquid fuels allocation for 2019 is $66,071.28, based on mileage of 6.22 and a population of 2,361 and subject to the borough being certified by March 1, 2019.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board notified the borough they will receive a $400 refund for alcoholic beverage license fees issued in 2018.

The borough was notified by Lehigh County Controller Glenn Eckhart the Magisterial District Court #31-2-03 was completed and everything complied with AOPC guidelines.

Maintenance Supervisor Donnie Derr reported he is waiting for for permission from PennDOT to install a new storm drain across the road on Front Street. A walkthrough on Walnut Street with Jeff Ott has been scheduled and borough maintenance workers have started weed whacking the curb areas. The manholes on upper Walnut Street have been repaired but they need to install pots in each manhole. Maintenance workers have cleaned up all areas around the building and they are resealing the rear parking area.