East Penn Press

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


Wednesday, February 12, 2020 by ED COURRIER Special to The Press in Local News

School board studies bids for new turf project

The East Penn Board of School Directors observed a moment of silence for Jeffrey Kleckner, a retired business teacher and Gary Reigal, a former district business manager, at the start of board’s 3 1/2 hour long Feb. 10 meeting. Kleckner died Feb. 6 and Reigal died Jan. 16.

A request to address the board at the meeting was granted to Chris DeJohn, of Lower Macungie Township, who supported the new turf field project. He asked the board, “To finish the project well,” by including the Hornet logo in the field’s center and the words “Emmaus” and “Hornets” installed at the end zones.

James Lynch, principal and senior project manager of D’Huy Engineering, provided the directors with contractor bids on the Emmaus High School turf field project. He encouraged the district to go with Skepton Construction’s low base bid of $1,490,000 for the work, explaining they are a reputable local company with a good track record.

He also provided prices for a list of alternate options, including $12,000 for the center field Hornet logo, $7,500 each for soccer lines, boys lacrosse lines and girls lacrosse lines. Adding the words “Emmaus” and “Hornets” at the end zones would cost $23,000.

A credit of $85,000 could be obtained by installing turf in the “D” zones at the ends for the field instead of a track coating.

The board was told $13,000 can be saved by not installing concrete footing and structural work for a new scoreboard.

Several board members were concerned when told the total project price tag would be $1,733,250 plus $23,000 for the end zone lettering. With $1,665,000 in available funding, the district would have to find ways to cover the overage.

School Board President Ken Bacher and Directors Alisa Bowman and Adam Smith said the logo and end zone lettering would add marketing value and prestige to the district.

Most appeared in favor of saving money by retaining the existing scoreboard.

Business Administrator Robert Saul said the district could apply money from the capital reserve to plug the funding gap. He mentioned Emmaus High School’s science labs came in under budget with a savings of $58,000 and the high school gymnasium air conditioning project was also under budget. A portion of those savings could be applied to the turf project.

Campbell informed the board, that in preliminary talks with project sponsor Lehigh Valley Health Network, the contract may possibly be amended to not require the district to install a new scoreboard.

The board enjoyed screenings of short student-produced films titled “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” Student teams and their faculty advisors from Lower Macungie Middle School and Eyer Middle School presented infomercials about two local businesses to encourage their fellow students to consider manufacturing as a possible career choice.

Seventh grade students Emma Osher, Will Buck and Amanda King and eighth grade student Ben Fletcher from Team LMMS promoted working at Smooth-On Inc. which manufactures various silicone, urethane and other mold rubber products. Their favorite was the “Ultimate Zombie Kit.” Alice Boulrice served as faculty advisor.

Team Eyer members, including seventh grade students Danielle Zorman and Lia Feldman, and eighth graders Brett Heier, Adrianna Machik and Ryan Bennett, highlighted Allen Organ’s manufacturing process from cabinet making to installing electronics and software during their presentation. Brian Scholl was the faculty advisor.

School Superintendent Kristen Campbell followed up later with an invitation for the public to view these short films online and vote for their favorite between Feb. 19 and 21 in support of the students for a regional competition.

Campbell presented the administration’s 2020-2021 preliminary budget priorities for consideration. The superintendent requested the district hire two new elementary school learning support teachers at a combined recurring cost of $185,000. She also suggested the district hire a new behavior support interventionist at a recurring salary of $92,000 to serve in all the district schools.

Bowman expressed frustration the state has established compliance mandates for special education without properly funding them, leaving property owners with higher school taxes.

Vice President Paul Champagne mentioned the federal government has failed to adequately fund special education, as well. He cited Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funding, established during the Ford administration was supposed to cover 40 percent of the cost of special education, but currently only provides 15 percent.

Campbell requested an additional staff assistant be added at a recurring cost of $12,300. She mentioned they only have three staff assistants to supervise around 400 students during each lunch period.

She proposed a new full-time technology specialist be employed at a recurring salary of $43,300 to fill a part-time position that has remained vacant.

The board previewed the first draft of the 2020-2021 East Penn School District student/teacher calendar introduced by Assistant Superintendent Doug Povilaitis. Although the board praised him for incorporating many of their past input into the current schedule, several members suggested he move more of the snow makeup days from June and work them back into the early and middle of the school calendar. Currently there are three inclement weather days built in.

Povilaitis did combine two Act 80 professional development half days into one full day for faculty, but board members asked if he could do the same with the other Act 80 days, citing the inconvenience of working parents dealing with their kids coming home midday.

Smith suggested if parent-teacher conferences had to be scheduled in early December, that “progress reports” be issued to parents earlier in the trimester to help keep them informed of how their children are doing.

The directors gratefully accepted a donation in the amount of $1,000 from Kindness is Magic Inc. 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.

Director Jeffrey Jankowski reported the state legislature has received Gov. Tom Wolf’s state budget which provides more funding for public education.

Bacher said an executive session was held 7 p.m. prior to the public meeting for the purpose of “negotiations.”

The East Penn Board of School Directors will next meet 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 in the board room of the administration building. The public can access documents through BoardDocs via a link on the district website.