During the Northampton Area School Board meeting on October 25, the board approved the retirement of faculty members Coy Stampone and Deborah Hunter. Both instructors will retire on June 3, 2022.
“I want to recognize them and thank them for their years of service,” said school superintendent Joseph Kovalchik.
Stampone and Hunter have over 30 years of combined service to the school district. Stampone is a business, computer, and information technology instructor. Hunter is a social studies instructor.
Two cafeteria monitors, Kelly Ruhe and Patricia Hall, also resigned from their roles, effective October 15. Both were thanked for their years of service to the district and its students.
School Board President David Gogel said that this many retirements and resignations so early in the school year is “unprecedented.” He expects more retirement announcements to follow in the coming months.
In other news, the board approved the Title III program entitled “Embracing English for Adults.” This free virtual course is open to parents and will run from November 4 to November 18. Instructors include Stephanie Szoke, Robin Matis, and Jennifer Gensits. The program is paid for by Title III, meaning there is no cost to the district.
During public comment, several residents still voiced concerns over the school’s mask requirement. However, the school district is required to enforce mask-wearing by the state. The decision is not that of the board.
Other parents expressed concerns over a “vaccine mandate,” but Kovalchik said the school district will not require students to be vaccinated. However, in the future, the school plans to have vaccines available for parents who choose to vaccinate their children, no different than any other vaccine available to students.
Other talking points during the meeting included the number of warehouses within the school district. Former school board member Maggie Kemp called Northampton a “warehouse community” and expressed concerns over the proximity of a proposed elementary school to the new Jaindl-Watson warehouse.
“I was taught to look before I leap, [and] the school board should do that,” she said. She added that the land, which is owned by the school district, would better serve as a maintenance building or parking lot.
One resident asked how tax dollars are affected by the warehouses. While the district receives funding from tax dollars, that total is reduced if there is no tenant in the warehouse.
Finally, one mother asked the board why ninth-grade students cannot attend the Bethlehem Area Vocational School. Currently, only ninth-grade students from Freedom High School and Liberty High School can attend the vocational school.
Kovalchik said he believes in a comprehensive vocational education, but several factors make it difficult for freshmen to attend. Primarily, travel and capacity. Bussing students to and from the school will take over an hour every day. In addition, the school does not have the capacity to accept freshmen from Northampton or Saucon Valley, another school district in the area. Finally, current scheduling conflicts make it difficult for students to achieve the credits they need.
Despite this, Kovalchik told the audience the issue will be looked at and the district will explore how it can enhance access to a vocational education.
The next school board meeting will be on Monday, November 8 at 6:30 p.m.