The September 14 Nazareth School Board meeting was held virtually with no in-person option after an announcement via social media a day earlier from Superintendent Dr. Dennis Riker. The announcement said that the virtual meeting would allow a “face-covering neutral” environment considering a recent order by the PA Department of Health requiring face coverings in school buildings.
The meeting opened with a roll call and the pledge before moving on to public comment that was supposed to be confined to comments on board resolutions only. Immediately upon opening comment some members of the public began questioning the board’s decision to not allow in-person attendance. After a few minutes of questions about the decision, the board muted the mic so they could continue with general business. They let the virtual attendees know there would be more time to comment during the community corner portion of the agenda.
Two members of student government addressed the board next. A School Liaison, Sena Gulen, told the board about welcoming back students at staff. She said that part of student government’s mission is to make new students feel at home. McKenzie Harris, Student Government President, filled the board in on homecoming arrangements. She said they voted on the court and that the homecoming game would be on October 8 with the dance to follow on October 10 from 6:30 until 9:30 p.m. at the school.
A representative from the Food Service Committee updated the board on how they are handling procuring food for the district. At the beginning of the year, they found out that they could no longer participate in the food co-op they have been using in previous years, but they managed to secure an agreement with Tri-State co-op, an organization that mostly serves Philadelphia-area districts. Despite supply chain difficulties, they have been able to keep the schools stocked and the cafeterias running. They are required to participate with the co-ops to be in compliance to receive federal funding.
The school district policy #802, with regards to school organization, was voted on and approved unanimously by the board. The policy assigns which grades attend which school, and continues their current plan originally adopted on January 26 of this year.
Next on the agenda was the community corner, which allows public comment on non-agenda items. A resident of Upper Nazareth named James Cunningham opened by requesting that “community corner” be renamed “we the people” to better reflect the importance of the agenda item. He then demanded that the “100 people” outside of the building be let into the meeting. When Cunningham was informed that the meeting room couldn’t hold that many people he revised his estimation of the crowd to “50 people.” After he was rebuffed by the board, he asked to know the names of the people who made the decision to make the meeting online only and said that he wanted to “make a motion” that would force the school attorney to attend meetings in person.
Shortly after community corner started it was abruptly cut short for an executive session. The board eventually returned, made an announcement of a special meeting, and then motioned to adjourn.
The special meeting of the Nazareth School Board was scheduled for Thursday, September 16 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. There was a virtual option for attendance as well. The board noted that all members of the public would be able to be heard at that meeting.