AccaBella serenaded the East Penn Board of School Directors at their regular meeting Dec. 10. After enjoying renditions of “Angels We Have Heard On High” and Abba’s “Dancing Queen” by the Emmaus High School a capella group, the board got back to business.
The directors voted unanimously to approve the collective bargaining agreement between the East Penn School District and the East Penn Education Association effective July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2023. “It’s good for the district and good for the teachers,” board President Ken Bacher said about the new contract.
The four year agreement includes a salary schedule that follows the Act 1 Index. The annual raise component will not be less than 1.1 percent with 1.2 percent for 2019-2020. The annual raise component will not be more than 2 percent. The annual vision reimbursement amount increases to $150 per year on the employee health insurance plan. The district’s pay dates are every two weeks regardless of holidays.
Furlough language was changed and the section dealing with “Fair Share” was removed in order to agree with current Pennsylvania law.
Superintendent Kristen Campbell and Business Administrator Robert Saul presented the directors with a first look at the district’s 2019-2020 budget outlook. They explained it is in compliance with Act 1 of 2016 regarding a timeline, “cost of living” cap on annual tax increases and exceptions to that cap for annual extraordinary cost increases based on need.
The timeline starts with a proposed preliminary budget presented to the board Jan. 14, 2019, with a proposed final budget presentation March 25, 2019. June 10, 2019 is the target date for adoption of the final 2019-2020 budget.
Saul said the Act 1 Index, or “cost of living” cap for a tax rate is calculated by the state board of education, with a statewide average of 2.3 percent Act 1 Index for 2019-2020. Based on average income, market value of properties and other statistics, the 2019-2020 Adjusted Act 1 Index for the East Penn School District is 2.7 percent. The real estate tax millage cannot go up more than 18.8770 mills.
Saul said the beginning fund balance is estimated at $14,620,000 and after calculating estimated revenue and expenditures, the estimated ending fund balance would be $12,620,000.
Campbell outlined the district priorities for an additional guidance counselor, psychologist, certified school nurse, ESL teacher, staff assistant, tech integration specialist, phase 3 of the technology plan, balanced literacy resources and entrance vestibule security upgrades at a total estimated cost of $1,720,000.
Both concluded that any real estate increase would be below the Adjusted Act 1 Index of 2.7 percent. They also recommended that a small portion of the fund balance be allocated to deferred maintenance and other one-time expenditures.
D’Huy Engineering Inc. was awarded the contract for civil engineering services associated with the conversion of EHS stadium’s natural grass football field to synthetic turf. The total cost for services provided is $115,300. The vote was unanimous. Although the board was informed that accelerating the timeline may not be possible in light of how much time is required for the state and local permits, they were told the engineering firm would look into it. Currently, the turf field is projected to be installed by summer of 2020.
In her district update, Campbell announced all students in grades three through 12 will be completing the BrightBytes survey in school between Dec. 10 and 21. According to the superintendent, the 10-15 minute survey measures various aspects of technology usage throughout the district, including home access to Wi-Fi. The district is also seeking input from teachers, administrators, students, parents and guardians through the survey. She said information gathered will be useful as the district continues with its 1:1 technology rollout.
She said the administration is working on providing a list of where students from families which do not have access to the Internet, could do so either at school, local libraries or other community Wi-Fi hotspots.
Student Government Association representatives Sajan Patel and Sydney Souliere reported on sports and various activities such as a Miller-Keystone blood drive scheduled at EHS Jan. 8, 2019.
The directors gratefully accepted a $1,430 donation from the EPSD Education Foundation to sponsor the purchase of fabrication equipment in support of the Project Lead the Way program.
In personnel matters, the directors accepted the retirement of Mark Sechler from his position in the facilities department effective Feb. 9, 2019. Sechler received his education as an East Penn student and has been employed by the district for 40 years.
Stacey Carpenito’s appointment as supervisor of special education: middle level effective Jan. 7, 2019 was approved by the board, as was the hiring of Ross Snyder as a network support specialist with the same start time. Campbell enthusiastically introduced Carpenito to the board as the newest member of her administrative team.
On a somber note, the directors observed a moment of silence at the start of the meeting for Alburtis Elementary School custodian Dennis Lee Glase who died Dec. 4 at age 62.
The school board held a first reading of updates to current board policies on new federal fiscal compliance thresholds and Title 1 parent and family engagement guidelines. Assistant Superintendent Douglas Povilaitis said these reflect Pennsylvania School Boards Association recommendations regarding changes in the law.
There were no requests to address the board.
There was an executive session scheduled prior to the public meeting on negotiations Bacher said.
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 Jan. 14, 2019 in the board room of the administration building.
Bacher announced all district schools and offices will be closed Dec. 24 through Jan. 1, 2019 for the winter break.