Voting 5 to 3, the East Penn Board of School Directors chose Jeff Jankowski to fill a seat recently vacated by Seth Flanders at its May 13 meeting. Having resigned in April, Flanders and his family relocated to Milwaukee, Wis., where he had started a new job.
Jankowski was immediately sworn in and will finish out the rest of Flanders’ term, which ends in December.
The board decided to pick from two candidates they had previously interviewed for vacant seats to replace Flanders. “We’ll see you in December,” quipped President Ken Bacher to the other candidate, Emmaus resident Naomi Winch. She is currently running unopposed for a 2-year seat.
Jankowski, from Lower Macungie Township, is running against several candidates for a 4-year term.
After the board member selection took place, a request to address the board was granted to Emmaus resident Barbara Tantaros who criticized the selection process for the new school director. She said they should have advertised the position and asked for public input before voting on the candidates. She expressed concerns about appointing someone who was also running for a school board seat.
The middle level computer and business applications curriculum was discussed during a presentation by East Penn School District Curriculum and Instruction Supervisor Mike Mihalik, Emmaus High School guidance counselor Jen Carolla and Eyer Middle School computer and business applications teacher Brent Haley. These would be exploratory courses, 12 weeks in length.
Each took turns walking the board through curriculum highlights beginning with grade six. The course would provide the students with digital literacy with computer systems, wireless communications, software programs and career possibilities. Students would create Google website portfolios that would follow them throughout middle school.
Eighth grade students would begin creating basic apps and study computer science. They would also be instructed in entrepreneurship and business communication skills such as photo editing and web design.
The timeline for the program implementation began in 2017-2018 with the draft of the curriculum for sixth and seventh grades. In 2018-2019, the sixth and seventh grade curriculum was piloted as the curriculum was drafted for eighth grade.
For 2019-2020, curriculum for sixth and seventh grades would be ready to be fully adopted and implemented while the eighth grade curriculum is piloted.
Business Administrator Robert Saul provided updates to the 2019-2020 proposed final budget for the district. He indicated the total budget would be $158,484,379 with a total budget increase of $5,203,265. The tax millage would be 18.4569 on real estate, with a tax increase of 0.42 percent, down from 0.92 percent. Final voting is scheduled June 10.
During her district update, Superintendent Kristen Campbell announced the administration has created a task force that is gathering information on adolescent sleep studies, secondary school start times in other school districts and the processes behind successfully changing start times for high school students. She said they are working on creating a survey for parents and students to allow for public feedback.
For their last appearance for the year, EHS Student Government Association representatives Sajan Patel and Sydney Souliere reported a successful Senior Ball and S.T.E.P. Afterball Party, as well as, other events for seniors leading up to the June 9 graduation. Campbell presented each with a gift basket and praised them for their service.
Souliere will be attending King’s College in the fall and Patel is to study pre-med at Case Western Reserve University.
In personnel matters, the board accepted the retirement of special education teacher Eileen Crompton and ESL teacher Diane Tintle, both from Jefferson and Lincoln elementary schools, effective mid-June. They also accepted the retirement of Lower Macungie Middle School librarian Janet Spence effective June 15.
Early retirement was approved for Emmaus math teacher Todd Burkhardt, Eyer Middle School sixth grade language access program teacher Mark Domyan, Lower Macungie Middle School family consumer science teacher Deirdre Gallahue-Thorp and Lincoln Elementary School first grade teacher Melanie Hirsch, all effective mid-June.
The directors acknowledged the resignations of health room nurses Belinda Morgan from EHS, effective April 24 and Mary D’Emidio from Lower Macungie, effective June 14. Shoemaker Elementary School music teacher Lindsay Graziano’s resignation is also effective June 14.
The contract for Communities in Schools to continue another year at EHS passed unanimously. However, the board voted eight to one to expand the CIS program to the middle schools with a three-year contract to take advantage of a CIS grant to subsidize the cost. Director Charles Ballard provided the dissenting vote. He expressed reservations about the process, that there wasn’t enough data available to support such a commitment. The board debated over who is responsible when a community problem like increased mental health issues become an obstacle to learning for students in the schools.
Director Paul Champagne told board members the new welding labs at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute are ahead of schedule.
Joshua Levin was appointed to the LCTI Joint Operating Committee to serve the remainder of Flander’s tenure. He will join Allan Byrd, Champagne and Adam Smith on the committee.
Amid accolades, the board named Robert Saul as treasurer for the term beginning July 1 to June 30, 2020.
The directors held a final adoption of board policy updates regarding tobacco and nicotine delivery systems and policies regarding the use of school facilities and public attendance at school events.
Three others from the audience made requests to address the board. Eyer Middle School science teacher Michael Mauro and ESL teacher Ann Breidenbach from Lower Macungie Middle School expressed support for expanding Communities in Schools to both middle schools.
Emmaus resident Lynn Donches requested the board invite public input before each agenda item vote with an “item-by-item comment format.” She also thanked them for videotaping meetings and using BoardDocs.
Prior to proceedings, President Ken Bacher called for a moment of silence in remembrance of two East Penn students who recently died. Nine-year-old Daniel Harries died April 18. He had attended Western Salisbury Elementary School. LMMS seventh grader Ku K’Paw, age 12, died April 21.
Bacher said there was an executive session in advance of the public meeting on “personnel issues.”
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 June 10. The public can 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.