EAST PENN SCHOOL DISTRICT
The East Penn Board of School Directors received a status update on the high school artificial turf project at its regular meeting July 8.
James Lynch, principal and senior project manager of D’Huy Engineering provided the good news that a geotechnical study of the stadium field found a foot of topsoil which is marketable and can offset the cost, existing utilities are deep, no rock was encountered for 10 feet and the soil appears to be well graded. There is also good infiltration and the area is suitable for underground stormwater impoundment under the field.
Lynch was happy to report Emmaus borough waived land development permits for the project and Upper Milford permitting was not required. He said the Lehigh Conservation District NPDES permit review may take several months and he expected county planning and Lehigh Valley Health Network approval to happen in January 2020.
With the job out for bid in January 2020, construction would start at the end of the track season in spring 2020. The field potentially could be ready for play for the first home game in the 2020-2021 football season in August.
Even with LVHN providing funding in exchange for advertising rights for the new turf and scoreboard, board Vice President Paul Champagne estimated roughly $170,000 would be needed to be budgeted from the district’s capital reserve fund to cover some of the cost for the improvements.
Preliminary field and scoreboard designs were shown to the board. Director Adam Smith asked that the LVHN “fan” logo not be on the actual playing field at the 24-yard lines. Board members questioned the need for the LED banner on the scoreboard, since they would need a borough variance for it. It was also mentioned eliminating it would bring down $30,000 from the overall cost.
Lynch suggested all throwing events be moved to the high school softball field since javelins could seriously damage artificial turf. He suggested extending the conduits for the underground power for the stadium lights since they may need to be replaced someday. Lynch mentioned the overall cost of the project may come down during the bidding process.
The directors voted 7-1 to proceed with the refunding of GOB Series A of 2012 and Series of 2014 bonds as presented by Scott Shearer, managing director, Public Financial Management and Jens Damgaard, Esquire of Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellot, LLC. The resolution designated $125,000 as the minimum savings amount for debt service reduction. Director Charles Ballard was the dissenting vote; he had earlier proposed setting the minimum at $135,000.
The financial advisors explained the district could obtain a potential net savings between $125,000 to $160,000 by refinancing $6,770,000 from Series A of 2012 bonds and $6,540,000 from Series of 2014 bonds at a low fixed rate.
During her district update, School Superintendent Kristen Campbell recognized Dr. Thomas Mirabella, director of student services, for his appointment to the state’s Mental Health Planning Council. She also spoke of the start of the summer lunch program, facilitated by area service organizations, offered at Lincoln and Jefferson elementary schools, as well as activities available at both public libraries and school libraries within the district.
Brian Scholl was approved by the board for the new position of district technology integration specialist, effective Aug. 19. Brigid Ulicny was approved to teach English as a Second Language, a new position at Emmaus High School, effective Sept. 9.
Five new teachers were hired to fill positions left vacant by retirement or resignations. They include: Katlyn Carpenter as a special education and emotional support teacher at Shoemaker Elementary School; Ashley Feher as a fourth grade teacher and Jennifer Rivera as a fifth grade teacher at Wescosville Elementary School; Kathern Murray as an earth and space science teacher at EHS and Julia Wetherhold as a music teacher at Alburtis and Macungie elementary schools. All are effective Aug. 19 except for Feher who begins Sept. 9.
Approval was also granted to Tina Shelton for the position of certified school nurse at Wescosville Elementary School, effective Aug. 19.
After a third reading, the board adopted the new “crowdfunding” policy and updates of current policies regarding comparability of services with Title I funding and others on freedom of speech issues.
Lehigh Career & Technical Institute’s completion of the new welding lab has been moved to November 2020 with the delay caused by a couple of “torrential downpours,” according to Director Paul Champagne.
Ballard reported the legislature passed a state budget that will be greatly affected by a series of school code bills awaiting Gov. Tom Wolf’s signatures.
There were no requests to address the board.
President Ken Bacher said there was an executive session prior to the public meeting on “real estate and personnel.” He also announced Emmaus High School graduate Ryan Bilger recently won big on “Jeopardy.”
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 Aug. 12. 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.