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Guided by Lower Macungie Middle School Band Director Erin Trautmann, the LMMS Jazz Band serenaded the East Penn Board of School Directors at their March 9 meeting with “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Blue and Sentimental.”

After getting “jazzed up” by the student musicians, the directors unanimously voted to approve an amendment to the Lehigh Valley Health Network Sports Medicine Services Agreement.

When they awarded the Emmaus High School’s new turf and track resurfacing project to Skepton Construction, Inc. at the previous board meeting, the directors decided to save the district $13,000 by eliminating the concrete footings and structural work for a new scoreboard. They also agreed the cost of a new scoreboard would not be in the district’s best interest financially at this time.

The original agreement with LVHN to provide financial assistance with the turf project had included the construction of a new scoreboard.

The project’s sponsor was amenable to the school retaining the existing scoreboard, as long as, “the existing scoreboard at the football stadium will have significant LVHN branding during the term of the agreement,” as per the renegotiated contract.

Director Jeffrey Jankowski voiced concern on what “significant branding” would involve, which is still being negotiated between the sponsor and the district.

School Superintendent Kristen Campbell returned with an additional presentation of the administration’s 2020-2021 budget priorities focused on two new administrative level positions.

The first, a district-wide director of educational alternatives, at a recurring salary of $175,000 to improve current and develop new alternative programs to address the needs of students who are unable to work in a traditional school setting. This would include improving the district’s Virtual East Penn Academy and providing blended learning opportunities to online students.

The administrator would oversee programs for Learning to Succeed students, disciplinary placements and high school internships. Campbell said expanding the district’s cyber academy to include middle level students would be a priority, as well as bringing back district students currently enrolled in private cyber schools.

The second proposed new position would be for a district-wide inclusion specialist, at $144,300 per year. This professional would support inclusion for all students in regular education classrooms by providing professional development for teachers, administrators and staff, collaborate with school academic and IEP teams, the behavior specialist, and students’ families.

Assistant Superintendent Laura Witman and Director of Special Education Linda M. Pekarik assisted with the presentation.

Several board members, questioned the need for additional administrators. They asked if other staff could provide those services. The directors also wanted to view cost and savings data for these proposed positions, including the potential savings if students currently placed in cyber charter schools could return to East Penn.

Naomi Winch voiced support for additional services being made available to transitioning students.

A highly detailed long range fiscal and capital plan was introduced to the directors by Treasurer Robert Saul. Although he called it a “dynamic plan” subject to change, the directors were grateful to have a financial blueprint that featured past data, present figures and projected future scenarios to refer to.

Saul said over the past 14 years, the district’s Act 1 Index averaged 2.8 percent. He said 3 percent is the Act 1 Index for a similar school district.

In her district update, Campbell discussed the proactive steps the administration is taking in regard to the emerging coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in the United States. Campbell said they are monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, school physician and other sources, as well as promoting CDC advice for hygiene. She also said the school maintenance staff are cleaning buildings with a disinfectant and spray that kills the virus. She advises parents or guardians to keep a sick child home.

The 2020-2021 district student/teacher calendar was adopted unanimously. Beginning Aug. 31 and ending June 14, 2021, there are 184 student days with 191 teachers days including professional development time. An Act 80 day was moved from May 7 to May 28 which falls after the Keystone exams.

Three snow days are built into the school year with five more tentative makeup days tacked on in June. Eliminating a school day from the calendar by combining two half-days, will save the district $48,000 in transportation costs, Saul said.

In personnel matters, the board approved the hiring of Dawn Campbell as a special education teacher for Shoemaker Elementary School, effective March 10.

Assistant Superintendent Douglas Povilaitis provided the school board with a first reading of updates to current board policies on tobacco and vaping products.

There were no requests to address the board.

President Ken Bacher mentioned an executive session was held 7 p.m. prior to the public meeting on “negotiation, confidentiality and real estate.”

The next meeting is scheduled for March 23 in the board room of the administration building where free WiFi is available for audience members. The public can access documents through BoardDocs via a link on the district website.