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Summer camps are discussed


Special to The Press

In addition to discussing elementary reconfiguration and vetting regular business items, Northwestern Lehigh school board members received information on several topics during their April 7 workshop.

Superintendent Jennifer Holman said the recently passed American Rescue Plan of 2021 included new emergency relief funds for elementary and secondary schools to tackle student learning loss.

She said districts must devote 20 percent of funds received to specifically target learning loss, which for Northwestern Lehigh totaled more than $250,000.

Holman said the funds must be used throughout this summer, the next school year and the following summer.

She explained administrators and staff have been working on a tentative plan to offer summer camps, which could be run by teachers, support staff and local vendors, to reduce student learning loss.

Holman said teachers and principals would identify students, either through data or direct referrals, who have experienced learning loss and refer them to summer program options.

These programs would be three- to four weeks long at the elementary and middle school levels and include all-day programs with math and English/Language Arts components specifically designed to make up for learning loss.

The district will be looking at various community programs and resources for these summer camps.

She said the district would like to have the camp running this year, adding some staff feedback has already been received, and the district will also reach out to parents.

Holman also said there are tentative plans for an after-hours “Tiger Tutor” program for students in kindergarten through 12th grade during the school year, as well as additional programming next summer.

She said while confirmed numbers have not been set, the district is planning for at least 72 elementary students to participate in the summer learning.

In other business, board members received an update on the planned 2021-22 budget from Business Administrator Leslie Frisbie.

She said the district has continued to identify various line items for cost adjustments and to update revenue.

Currently the district has not made any staffing changes.

Frisbie added a full staff proposal will be included in the May budget presentation.

Reviewing major changes since January, Frisbie said the district has seen a net increase of $698,573 in expenditures, though she said nearly $430,000 of this amount is federal funding, which contains an offsetting revenue increase.

Frisbie said the district’s revised projected shortfall is $3,473,764, but after adding in an Act 1 increase, which increases taxes by 3 percent and brings in around $855,000 in revenue, the new shortfall is $2,618,764.

She also said the district has identified around $1.67 million in planned use of fund balance to leave a remaining shortfall of $948,764.

Additionally, Frisbie presented an alternative option without a full millage increase, to accommodate the hardships of the current pandemic year and infusion of new federal dollars.

Under this option the proposed millage increase is reduced to 2 percent, raising $650,000 in revenue, and leaving the remaining shortfall at $1,153,764.

To accommodate the remaining shortfall Frisbie said the district has several options including targeted cuts, increasing revenues where possible, finalizing staffing plans and strategically using federal money.

Lastly under new business, board President Willard Dellicker said school directors needed to vote for a candidate for the open Lehigh Carbon Community College trustee-at-large position, which has a term ending June 30, 2026.

He noted among the candidates was board member Rachael Scheffler, who was nominated by the board at a previous meeting.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 21.