East Penn Press

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

EAST PENN SCHOOL DISTRICT

Thursday, January 31, 2019 by ed courrier Special to The Press in Local News

Elementary personnel recommendations discussed

The East Penn Board of School Directors took a detailed look at a portion of the administration’s proposed 2019-2020 budget at their Jan. 28 meeting.

Superintendent Kristen Campbell brought a list of elementary school personnel she and Business Administrator Robert Saul recommended be hired as part of their 2019-2020 proposed $1,720,000 preliminary budget. These include an additional guidance counselor, school psychologist and a staff assistant to work with students from kindergarten through grade five. These would be recurring costs.

Campbell proposed hiring an additional full-time guidance counselor at $100,000 which would provide daily guidance support at all seven elementary schools. Currently, five of the district’s elementary schools with student populations ranging between 388 to 694, each have their own guidance counselor. Alburtis Elementary School, with 335 students and Jefferson Elementary School, with 293 students, share one guidance counselor who visits on alternate days.

She explained guidance counselor’s duties include one-to-one support and group support for students. They also provide instruction on social skills and career awareness, form part of the instructional support team, serve on various committees and consult with administrators and teachers regarding a student’s progress and interventions. Counselors also assist with fifth graders’ transition to middle school.

In response to directors’ questions regarding the different student-to-counselor ratios in the district’s schools, Campbell cited statistics that Lincoln, Jefferson and Alburtis schools had a higher percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches, which indicated they were possibly in greater need of a guidance counselor’s services.

Director of Special Education Linda Pekarik presented the case for hiring an additional full-time school psychologist at $100,000. She explained that school psychologists conduct psychoeducational evaluations for Chapter 14 (special education) and Chapter 16 (gifted) students. Pekarik said, “There is a 60 day time line that we need to follow from the time we get parent permission to evaluate.” Currently the district is out of compliance with that Federal IDEA regulation. With a large volume of incoming students requiring evaluation, the additional new hire is needed to bring East Penn back into compliance.

A school psychologist is also responsible for conducting functional behavior analysis, supporting each student’s IEP, counseling students individually, meeting with parents, serving as a liaison to community services and conducting risk and threat assessments.

The school psychologist at Macungie Elementary School also serves as an Autism Initiative internal coach and works with 61 students educated in 11 district autistic support classrooms.

Pekarik pointed out that of the seven elementary schools, Macungie, Shoemaker and Willow Lane have one psychologist each. Another splits time between Wescosville and Alburtis. Lincoln and Jefferson also share one school psychologist.

“The need is greater evaluation-wise at the elementary school,” Pekarik said. This is when students are initially identified.

The proposed budget calls for an additional part-time staff assistant at a cost of $20,000 to supervise Jefferson Elementary School students at lunch and recess, as well as “maintain appropriate support in the main office,” according to the superintendent.

Campbell told the board that a proposal for additional secondary school level personnel will be presented at the next board meeting. Other district needs are to be discussed at subsequent meetings with a target date of June 10 for adoption of the final 2019-2020 budget.

In her district update, Campbell was pleased to announce the district has been awarded a $35,000 PAsmart Computer Science and STEM Education Grant.

A new ceiling-mounted camera began officially recording the evening’s school board meeting. Videos are to be posted on the YouTube channel by the technology department on the day following each meeting. The link is available on the school board tab of the district’s website. The test recording of the Jan. 14 meeting was successful and the video of it is available on YouTube.

Emmaus High School Student Government Association representatives Sajan Patel and Sydney Souliere reported on a successful Miller-Keystone blood drive Jan. 8 with 31 people donating blood. Another is scheduled for March 7 and would be open to the public. The SGA recently donated $200 to the Angel Network. They also mentioned several school music-related activities, as well as the high school musical “Les Misérables” being scheduled for March 13-17.

In personnel matters, the directors accepted the resignation of EHS special education teacher Erin Haddigan effective Jan. 30. They also approved the retirement of EHS instructional assistant Paula Werley effective April 13. Werley had been with the district for 26 years.

Erin Eisenhard was appointed to the position of second grade teacher at Wescosville Elementary School effective March 4, 2019 with the board’s approval.

The directors adopted updated board policies on new federal fiscal compliance thresholds and Title 1 parent and family engagement guidelines without additional changes.

Vice President Paul Champagne and Charles Ballard attended the meeting via Skype while attending a conference.

There were no requests to address the board and no executive session prior to the public meeting.

The East Penn Board of School Directors will meet 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11 in the board room of the administration building.