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School year off to smooth start

Catasauqua Area School District Board of Education wasted no time getting down to business at the Sept. 13 meeting. The quick meeting was attended by a skeleton crew of only five board members - Jillian Emert, Dale Hein, Carol Cunningham, Shawn McGinley and Christy Cooper. There was little discussion as the board members approved the items on the agenda.

One item that was mentioned a number of times was the smooth start to the new school year. There were thanks and kudos shared to administrators, teachers and staff for their efforts in beginning the new year on the right foot.

A number of employees were appointed to new positions, including Sheckler Elementary School noncertified instructional aides Amber Bossons, effective Aug. 22; Laura Kotran, effective Aug. 26; Jasmine Seritsky, effective Aug. 31; Aliviea Follweiler, effective Sept. 7; and Lauren Bock and Evan Frantz, upon receipt of paperwork. All were approved at $133 per day.

Additional approvals included Olivia Chunko, a student worker at Sheckler Elementary at $10 per hour for two hours a day, and Devin Steele, an autistic-support teacher at Sheckler.

Board members approved a request to increase the rate of pay for student workers from $8.50 to $10 an hour, effective Aug. 10.

Three people were added to the substitute employment list. Susan Lesko was approved as a noncertified instructional aide substitute, and Matthew Trust and Shawn Biernat were approved as substitute teachers. Substitute rates of $130 per day were approved for Trust and Biernat, effective Aug. 29 and Sept. 7, respectively.

Resignations were approved, including Luis Silva, student worker, effective Aug. 9; Tracey Alexander, bus driver, effective Aug. 17; Mikesha Calhoun, cheerleading coach, Aug. 26; Shannon Van Spanje, CMS guidance counselor, effective Nov. 1; and Alivia Follweiler, Sheckler noncertified instructional aide, effective Sept. 8.

Extracurricular positions were approved, including Leslie Estrada, CHS Digital Media Club adviser, at $562; Meghan Hinkle, CHS Class of 2026 adviser, at $709; Kawanna Waldron, head cheerleading coach, at $2,000; Jenarosa Auriemma, assistant cheerleading coach, at $1,000; Kyra Jackson, assistant cheerleading coach, as a volunteer; Travis Sterner, assistant boys basketball coach, as a volunteer; and Lois Reed, Catasauqua Community Cares Program coordinator, at $5,000.

Hein noted he had been looking into the expenditures of the various coaches in the district and suggested the board review some of them. One example he noted was the $3,000 stipend for cheerleading coaches the board just approved and asked if there are still multiple squads in the district to warrant the extra funds. He suggested the board keep an eye on these stipends moving forward.

Superintendent of Schools Robert Spengler presented the building and grounds report. He noted the Catasauqua Middle School memory garden cleanup is expected to occur soon. According to Spengler, school nurse Donna Tercha and her church group will be doing the cleanup.

He also reported on the completion of other projects, such as the mounting of the stadium camera system and the new hot water heaters at CMS.

Additionally, Spengler noted they are working on a plan to implement busing for fifth- and sixth-grade students. They are currently working through the logistics and hope to have a plan in place in a few months.

“We’re bringing definition to these things,” Spengler said.

Emily Eisenhard, who served as the Catasauqua High School representative to the board, reported the students are all excited for the start of the school year and upcoming events, such as the open house and clubs restarting.

CMS Principal Melissa Inselmann reported that after word got out about the efforts of teacher David Linton to help make sure there are emergency clothes and shoes for students, the school now has approximately $900 in donations. The backup supply is being renamed Linton’s Closet in his honor.

Additional board approvals included the purchase of digital radios and repeater in accordance with the Act 55 School Mental Health and Safety Security grant to keep the communication devices up to date in case of an emergency; the revised 2022-23 CASD health and safety plan; the approval of an agreement with Salisbury Behavioral Health for services effective July 1-June 30, 2023; and the creation of the Class of 2026 activity fund account.

The next school board meeting is planned for 7 p.m. Oct. 11 in the district administrative board room, 201 N. 14th St., Catasauqua.