EAST PENN SCHOOL DISTRICT
The East Penn Board of School Directors took time from the March 25 meeting to honor an Emmaus High School diving champion.
2019 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Inc. Class 3A Championship diver Brendan McCourt was recognized and applauded for scoring gold with 542.75 points at the recent PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships held at Bucknell University. McCourt, an Emmaus junior, was accompanied by his proud parents.
In other business, Superintendent Kristen Campbell gave a shout out to director Jill Kuebler, music director Rita Cortez, the cast and crew for a successful Emmaus production of “Les Misérables.” Several on the board expressed admiration for all involved with the professional way the musical was produced. Adam Smith mentioned at the performance he had attended, “The barricade itself had a round of applause.”
Business administrator Robert Saul provided an update on the district’s 2019-2020 proposed final budget. He said there were two primary changes from the long range fiscal and capital plan viewed at the last meeting. “The movement of $3 million during the current year from the general fund to the capital reserve fund,” Saul said is the first. “The reduction of the budgetary reserve in the 2019-2020 budget to get that down to the 5 percent anticipated expenditures,” he mentioned is the second.
A page in Saul’s report provided an overall look at the original construction dates and renovation dates of the district’s seven elementary, two middle schools and one high school. Lincoln Elementary School is the oldest, having been built in 1928. Willow Lane Elementary School was the newest, having been constructed in 2009.
Director Charles Ballard commented replacement or major renovations to these properties should be included in budget planning.
Saul responded the administration recognizes a need for such a plan. He said a demographic study should be conducted first, followed by a feasibility study which would involve hiring an architect.
Saul said the budget would be brought up at the April meeting for consideration for adoption, with updates presented in May. A vote on the final budget is expected June 10.
Several of the directors praised the administration for their conservative planning and detailed explanations for where the money goes.
Director Alisa Bowman requested the board discuss the district’s graduation requirements that may be impacted by Pennsylvania’s recently passed legislation. She criticized these types of standardized tests where students do not have access to which questions they passed or got wrong.
Assistant Superintendent Laura Witman provided an overview of current district policies on graduation. “We, as a board and a district, have never required Keystone proficiency as part of graduation,” Witman said. “When we talk about Act 158 and Act 6, federal law still requires that we test students in the Keystones,” she continued.
Test scores are still used to calculate district performance and for teacher evaluation,Witman said. “There are alternatives that we are waiting for advisement and examples on.”
Witman said there is some repetition on standards from one course level to another which provides a student with an opportunity for remedial work to prepare for retesting .
Director Seth Flanders announced that he has landed a new job outside the district and will officially tender his resignation after the next board meeting. The Emmaus resident and his family will relocate to Milwaukee, Wis. Flanders had been appointed June 11, 2018, to fill the seat vacated by Chris Donatelli.
In personnel matters, the directors accepted the resignations of Wescosville Elementary School Certified School Nurse Pam Reichert effective June 14 and EHS Health Room Nurse Kristen Wilson effective March 18.
The retirement of EHS instructional assistant Robin Dotter effective June 6 was approved.
EHS Student Government Association representatives Sajan Patel and Sydney Souliere reported that after several delays, the “Mr. Emmaus” event will finally be held 7:30 p.m. March 27 in the auditorium. The March blood drive brought in 34 donors and 27 units of blood. Students mentioned $100,000 was raised by the Emmaus “Shave for the Brave” fundraiser in March, benefiting pediatric cancer research. The high school drama club fundraiser brought in $5,700 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society during “Les Misérables.”
The directors held a first reading of board policy updates. These were focused on tobacco and nicotine delivery systems such as vaping and patches. Updated policies regarding the use of school facilities and public attendance at school events were also reviewed.
When granted a request to address the board, Emmaus resident Barbara Tantaros expressed concern for school safety and suggested a K-9 be employed to protect personnel from an active shooter. She cited an article she had read about a Dutch shepherd patrolling a school in New Jersey.
Board President Ken Bacher said there was an executive session prior to the public meeting on real estate and personnel.
The East Penn Board of School Directors meet regularly 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of each month. Bacher announced the next meeting, scheduled for April 8, will be paperless. The public will be able to access documents through BoardDocs via a link on the district website. There is free WiFi available for audience members during the meetings in the board room of the administration building.