The Northampton School Board met Monday, March 13 with a lengthy public comments section due to residents voicing various safety concerns.
During regular agenda items under personnel/voice vote, the board unanimously approved one medical sabbatical, two resignations for the purpose of retirement, two resignations, two educational sabbaticals, additions and deletions to the substitute list, and the revised master district volunteer list for the current school year.
Under personnel/roll call vote, the board unanimously approved the following: the revised mentor/inductee list; the revised listing for extra-curricular staff and stipends; the revised credit recovery monitor list; the confidential employee agreement for July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2028; Assistant Superintendent Michelle Schoeneberger’s salary adjustment of $150,000 for the 2023-2024 school year; Director of Human Resources Michael Alogna’s salary adjustment of $130,000 for the 2023-2024 school year; the revised list of anticipated community education classes and roster of instructors with stipends for the spring; the listing of individuals to oversee intramural programs and the weight room; full-time district staff, substitutes, coaches, and extra-curricular staff to work athletic events, as well as part-time seasonal athletic event staff; the listing of building substitute teachers for the current school year at a per diem rate of $140; the attendance of Supervisor of Grants and Special Programs Nicolette Teles at the Pa. Association of Federal Program Coordinators Conference in April at a cost of $882.42; and the attendance of Club Advisors Alana Heller and Melinda McCann to attend the Odyssey of the Mind State Competition in April at Lock Haven University at a cost of $3,570.16.
Next, the board unanimously approved the following revised and new policies for adoption: 204 – Attendance; 610 – Purchases Subject to Bid/Quotation; 611 – Purchases Budgeted; 626 – Federal Fiscal Compliance; and 913 – Non-school Organization/Group/Individual Participation in the School Setting.
Under finances, the board unanimously approved the following: the Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit student driver education program agreement; 2022-2023 budget transfers; adoption of the 2023-2024 Northampton Community College Budget in the amount of $69,957,018 with the district’s portion being $917,646; bills for payment; the Treasurer’s Report; and the Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement entered into by and between JW Development Partners and NASD for the purpose of permitting the district to receive confidential information regarding properties owned by JW on Howertown Road, Seemsville Road, and Cesanek Road in Allen Township.
The board also unanimously approved the revised school calendar for the current school year.
During public comments, resident and previous board member Maggie Kemp raised concerns regarding tractor trailer accidents that have been “happening closer to home.”
Kemp added that there will undoubtedly be more accidents involving tractor trailers in the area due to the number of warehouses being built within a five-mile radius of the proposed Route 329 elementary school, which will accumulate more than 1,000 tractor trailers coming in/going out in a day.
Kemp expressed that she believes townships are being bullied by developers to construct more warehouses and that residents are being bullied into building the proposed school on an unsafe property since they are expected to foot the bill.
Several residents also voiced that the district needs to do something to make residents aware of what is going on with the proposed Route 329 elementary school and education center and tax increases, stating that many residents are in the dark.
Next, Anthony Maniscalco voiced concerns regarding the safety issue at the high school due to a recent threat from Friday, March 10 that detailed a shooting threat for Tuesday, March 14, which caused the high school to close for the day. Maniscalco added that he is concerned with the lack of transparency from the district to parents.
Maniscalco questioned why the board didn’t explain what enhanced security would be used after the threat and why measures were not also taken at the middle school due to its close proximity to the high school.
Another resident voiced that her daughter goes to school at NAHS in fear every day of something happening, especially because she said that not all high school students go through the metal detectors.
“Something has to happen to ensure our kids’ safety,” she asserted.
Superintendent Kovalchik responded to residents’ concerns about the shooting threat, expressing that the emails sent out to parents stated exactly what was found in the school. Kovalchik added that he spoke with the state police often throughout the weekend and that he contacted the FBI, Northampton County District Attorney’s Office, and all local police departments.
“I’ve always been upfront in regard to these particular instances, but I also run it by authorities to make sure the verbiage and language is correct, and then collaboratively a decision is made on what information to send out and how much to communicate. We take nothing to chance. That’s why I was so up front with the message I sent out,” said Kovalchik.
The next Northampton School Board meeting will be held on Monday, April 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Northampton Area High School auditorium, located at 1619 Laubach Ave.