EAST PENN SCHOOL DISTRICT
The Board of School Directors of East Penn School District accepted a donation in the amount of $1,200 from Kindness is Magic Inc. at its regular board meeting Sept. 9. The money is to be applied to the accounts of district families who are both eligible for free or reduced lunch and currently have a negative account balance. Alisa Bowman reflected board sentiment when she said she is, “thankful to Kindness is Magic.”
Emmaus High School sophomore Hayden Schmidt and his older brother Arti, a senior, were honored by the directors and administration for successfully securing U.S. patents for their inventions. Hayden Schmidt engineered a circuit breaker tagging system that uses field communication tags embedded in plastic holders attached to the back sides of outlet and switch cover plates. These store circuit information electronically. Arti Schmidt scored a patent for the software program and smart phone app he developed to support the tagging system.
As their proud parents and grandmother looked on, the young business partners conducted a demonstration for the directors on how their recently patented hardware and phone app worked.
“It gives me great hope that siblings do come together …” School Superintendent Kristen Campbell said, “… and can learn to work together and collaborate so very well.”
In her district update, Campbell announced the curriculum and instruction team will provide parents of elementary students with new report card information nights. The public is invited to the sessions scheduled Sept. 26 at Lincoln Elementary School, Oct. 1 at Willow Lane Elementary School and Nov. 18 at Shoemaker Elementary School. Campbell said the information is also posted on the district website.
In other business, Campbell said the task force studying later start times for high school students will soon post results of their ongoing research on a newly developed website.
In personnel matters, the board discussed revising the approval process for the resignation and retirement of district employees. In a vote of 7-2, the directors decided to end the practice of having board secretary Janine Allen provide redacted copies of retiring and resigning employees with the board agenda package.
Citing the time required to censor and copy the letters, along with possible legal issues if any personal information might be accidentally released to the public, Board President Ken Bacher, Vice President Paul Champagne, Directors Charles Ballard, Allan Byrd, Jeffrey Jankowski, Joshua Levinson and Ziad Munson voted “aye.”
Alisa Bowman and Adam Smith were the dissenting votes. They argued there was no pressing reason to discontinue the practice and that letters from long-term employees provide the public record with useful historic information.
The board voted 8-1 to approve leasing a fenced playground and paved parking lot adjacent to Jefferson Elementary School. The district had previously leased the playground part of the property for years for a token $1. The new owner of the lot at 537 North St. has raised the rent to $1,500 per month Oct. 1 through the end of December 2019. This would include the playground, as well as additional parking spaces for teachers and staff.
Bowman voted “no.” She expressed the opinion the money could be better spent elsewhere. Those in favor of the lease felt the children needed the extra outdoor space as the school property is so small. They said this would give the district a few months to plan a more permanent solution.
The directors held a first reading of board policy updates with Assistant Superintendent Douglas Povilaitis regarding school board membership, student admission and withdrawal, health screenings and food services. Munson and others suggested the policy of providing students who are in arrears with lunch debt not be “stigmatized” by being given an “alternate meal.”
Providing a Lehigh Career & Technical Institute update, Champagne said the new welding lab should be completed by mid-November. Classes in the new facility are likely to be scheduled for the spring semester.
The state legislature, according to Ballard, is “still in election mode.”
A request to address the board was granted to Jared Bitting, of Lower Macungie Township. He urged East Penn to consider creating a district middle school soccer program.
President Ken Bacher said there was an executive session Aug. 27 where they discussed 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 scheduled Sept. 23. 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.