The Northampton School Board met Monday, February 13 with discussions on the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association conference, elementary pilot programs, and regular agenda items.

During questions of agenda items, board member Kim Bretzik voiced concern regarding the approval of a librarian attending the PSLA conference this year. Bretzik expressed that from what she could find, the conference’s agenda appeared activist in nature. Bretzik added that she does not approve of sending someone to the conference to bring back ideas and solutions when there will be speakers such as the author of a queer book about a 10-year-old boy who wants to be a girl and another speaker, Cicely Lewis, who is the founder of Read Woke. According to the School Library Journal, Read Woke is a reading program with books that challenge social norms and status quo, have protagonists from underrepresented or oppressed groups, give voices to voiceless groups, and provide information about a group that has been disenfranchised.

When it came time for the board to vote on the attendance of Ms. Laudenslager to the PSLA 2023 Conference at a cost of $992, only Bretzik and Doug Vaughn opposed the item, so the motion passed.

Several residents also voiced concern regarding the attendance of a librarian to this conference and added that the board just seems to vote yes on things without doing their research. 

Later, Vaughn added: “It disappoints me when a member of the board brings up an issue and the rest of the board just proceeds forward and doesn’t consider the additional information.”

Bretzik then raised questions about pilot programs in the Bills for Payment list regarding who the programs are being tested on and the process for adopting the programs.

Assistant Superintendent Michelle Schoeneberger explained that the math pilot program is for elementary math fluency because teachers are interested in looking at other programs that could potentially be used for the math fluency component, which is separate from the core math program, and the Literary Resources ELA pilot is a phonemic awareness program for grades k-2 as a supplement to Units of Study. Schoeneberger added that if the district decides to go forward with any of the pilot programs, it would be brought to the board for approval before the next school year.

Bretzik expressed that she agrees with trying different programs to improve the education of students, but that the board should not have to comb through the Bills for Payment in order to figure out what is going on in the district. 

In other business, the board unanimously approved three leave of absences, seven retirement resignations, four resignations, one medical sabbatical, additions and deletions to the Substitute List, and a revised Master District Volunteer list under personnel voice vote. 

Under new business personnel roll call vote, board members unanimously approved the following items: the revised listing for extra-curricular and supplemental positions for the current school year; the extension of the Long Term Substitute Special Education Teacher assignment for Joseph Winter at the high school through the remainder of the school year; the contract between NASD and Dr. Nixa Rodriguez as a Psychoeducational Evaluator through the end of the school year for services not to exceed $18,000; the listing of 2022-2023 Spring Season Head Coaches and Assistant Coaches and their designated payments through the end of the school year; and the Building Substitute Contracts between the current 68 Day Substitutes and NASD through the end of the school year.

The following hires were unanimously approved by the board as well: Janine Bonham as TPE Science Teach at the middle school; Bridget Blatz as 12-month Special Education Secretary effective February 27; Anne McFarren as 1:1 Special Education Instructional Assistant at the high school effective February 14; Donna Teklits as Interim Supervisor of Transportation until the appointment of a permanent replacement; Elizabeth Miller as Long Term Substitute Grade 1 Teacher at Lehigh Elementary School through May 1; Kathlyn Macalintal as TPE Mathematics Teacher at the high school effective April 17; and Danielle Powell as 12-month Secretary to the Principal at Siegfried Elementary School effective February 27.

The board also unanimously approved the following conference attendances: Shaun Murray at the 2023 Pa. State Athletic Directors Annual Conference in March at a cost of $1,091.69; Kurt Paccio at the ISTE Conference in June at a cost of $1,202.52; four high school teachers and one high school guidance counselor at the Pa. DECA State Conference along with 78 DECA students at the end of February at a cost of $15,893; Katie Trainello and Seth Lisa at the Pa. FBLA State Leadership Conference in April along with seven NAHS FBLA students at a cost of $3,375; Kristy Young and two students to attend the PMEA Northeast Region Orchestra Festival in March at a cost of $651.09; and Victoria Kropf, Beth Wolfel, and Michael Papay at the PaTTAN-PDE Conference in March at a cost of $1,048.05.

Next, under finances, the board unanimously approved the Catalog Fixed Discount Program as awarded by the IU20 Joint Purchasing Board through December 31, the 2021-2022 Single Audit as completed by Gorman & Associates, the Bills for Payment, and the Treasurer’s Report.

Last, the board unanimously approved the items listed under miscellaneous, which included the creation of a Middle School Student Activity Account for Science Olympiad, three expulsion hearing waivers, Aevidum as a new extra-curricular club for the current school year, a full-time foreign exchange student at the high school for the 2023-2024 school year, the acceptance of a $500 donation from the Presbyterian Church of Catasauqua to support the district’s economically disadvantaged students, and the Buxmont Academy Placement Agreement at a cost not to exceed $21,000.

The next Northampton School Board meeting will be held on Monday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the Northampton Area High School auditorium, located at 1619 Laubach Ave.


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