EAST PENN SCHOOL DISTRICT
The East Penn Board of School Directors voted unanimously to adopt the 2019-2020 East Penn School District Final Budget with expenditures totaling $158,189,781 financed by a tax levy of 18.3808 mills per dollar of assessed valuation on real estate, a one-half percent earned income tax and a one-half percent real estate transfer tax.
Business Administrator Robert Saul explained there was no need for a tax increase based on recent land development in the district, as well as a leveling of district employee pension costs and medical insurance premiums remaining unchanged.
Director Adam Smith complimented Saul for presenting them with “the mythical unicorn” of a school budget with a “zero percent [tax] increase.” He and other members asked if this would possibly have a negative affect on the future. Saul responded he was “comfortable” with this budget. The directors expressed gratitude for a budget without a tax increase or structural deficit.
The board voted to continue the senior citizen real estate tax rebate program for the 2019-2020 year with the same eligibility income guidelines as the previous year’s program.
Homestead and farmstead exclusion real estate tax assessment reductions were authorized for the school year beginning July 1, under the provisions of the Homestead Property Exclusion Program Act and the Taxpayer Relief Act. There is a combined total of 15,319 approved homesteads and farmsteads within the district.
The middle level computer and business applications curriculum for the 2019-2020 school year was unanimously approved.
Prior to proceedings, Board President Ken Bacher called for a moment of silence in remembrance of district employee Yvonne Shaw who passed away unexpectedly May 24 at the age of 66. She had been with East Penn since 2001 and worked as an administrative assistant in the high school special education office and worked closely with the speech department. Superintendent Kristen Campbell said, “We will certainly remember Yvonne for her unique sense of humor and her dedication to the East Penn community.”
Campbell recognized Emmaus High School sophomore Matt Magee for achieving a perfect score of 36 on his ACT test. She said approximately two-tenths of one percent of the students taking the exam score this high. She also praised the computer science major for his involvement in the robotics club, Pennsylvania Math League, the American Computer Science League and the Emmaus track and field team.
During her district update, the superintendent announced commencement went smoothly at the PPL Center for the 696 EHS graduating seniors June 9. Of those, she mentioned more than 125 graduates were recognized at a senior awards ceremony May 29.
The board gratefully accepted a $1,000 donation from Kindness of Magic Inc. to be applied to the accounts of East Penn School District families who are both eligible for free or reduced lunches and currently have a negative account balance.
The directors acknowledged the resignations of Lower Macungie Middle School health room nurses Tonya Rivera and Cynthia Turner effective mid-May. Willow Lane Elementary School fifth grade math teacher Michael Hensinger’s resignation is effective June 14.
Two new hires were approved by the board to fill positions recently vacated by retirements. Kevin Ruppert and Margaret Zayaitz Ruhf are to teach mathematics at EHS effective Aug. 19.
Director Alisa Bowman reported the Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit was making efforts to serve the mental health needs of their students.
In his Lehigh Career and Technical Institute report, Director Paul Champagne presented slides showing the new welding unit under construction. He said LCTI hopes to have it ready by mid-October.
Champagne, Director Ziad Munson and Director Charles Ballard were appointed voting delegates for the upcoming PSBA Delegate Assembly.
The directors held a first reading of board policy updates regarding comparability of services with Title I funding. There were minor policy changes to employee family and medical leave.
Policy changes regarding distribution and posting of materials in regard to freedom of speech for students, faculty and outside persons or groups were reviewed. According to the policy and the law, “Students have the right to express themselves unless such expression is likely to or does materially or substantially interfere with the educational process.” Safety and other issues in relation to these policies were also discussed.
A new policy was crafted regarding “Crowdfunding” to differentiate between school-affiliated and outside efforts to raise funds for district needs.
There were no requests to address the board.
President Ken Bacher said there was an executive session prior to the public meeting on “personnel and litigation.”
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 June 24. 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.w