During the Northampton School Board meeting on Monday, August 14, Superintendent Joseph Kovalchik announced that the district will be implementing a free breakfast program for students. However, the program won’t officially start until Monday, September 11.
This announcement follows the August 3 signing of the state budget, which provides that all Pa. students will have access to free school breakfast for the 2023-24 school year.
Kovalchik expressed that he does not want this to cut into academic time, so the district will have to make some decisions about how to manage this program and fit it into the current school year schedule.
During regular agenda items, the board unanimously approved the following items directed under personnel/voice vote: one resignation for the purpose of retirement; two resignations; two leave of absences; the revised list of professional and support staff transfers; the district master substitute listing; and the district master volunteer list for the 2023-24 school year.
Under personnel/roll call vote, the board unanimously approved the following items: the revised listing of 2023-24 fall season head coaches and assistant coaches with designated payments; the revised list of summer library workers and their compensation; the listing of building substitute teachers for the 2023-24 school year at a per diem rate of $187.84; the attendance of the Director of Special Education and Supervisor of Special Education Curriculum and Instruction to attend the Council of Administrators of Special Education Conference in November at a cost of $2,410.01; and the mentor/inductee list for the 2023-24 school year with stipend payments.
The board also approved the following hires: Taylor Atiyeh as long-term substitute Grade 3 elementary teacher at Siegfried Elementary; Aurora Edwards as special education instructional assistant at the middle school; Jay Muhr as hall monitor at the middle school; Barry Schultz, Jr. as the middle school assistant principal; Rokhaya Diabakhate as 1:1 special education instructional assistant at the middle school; Matthew Frailey as assistant athletic director; Samantha Zuber as 1:1 special education instructional assistant at Franklin Elementary; Mary Beers as special education instructional assistant at the high school; Krysten Bowman as TPE English teacher at the middle school; and Shane Nauss as a 12-month school psychologist.
Under policy, the board unanimously approved the filing of district-initiated tax assessment appeals for recommended properties, as well as the following revised and new policies for adoption: Policy 224 – Care of School Property; Policy 249.1 – Anti-Bullying; and Policy 708 – Lending of Facilities/Operations Equipment and Books.
In other business, the board unanimously approved the following agenda items listed under facilities: the proposal to repair and recoat the tennis court by Pavement Maintenance Contractors, Inc. at a cost of $42,890, which is scheduled to be completed during summer 2024; a quote from Tri-Boro Fencing, Inc. at a cost of $37,459 to replace the fence along Laubach Avenue and $6,973 to replace the fence bordering the basement stairwell at the high school; a five-year service agreement effective Sept. 1, 2023 through Aug. 31, 2028 with Trane Building Services for service to the middle school and Lehigh Elementary’s HVAC direct digital controls system for a total cost of $87,451 spread across each school year; a five-year chiller service agreement with Trane U.S., Inc. effective July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2029 at a total cost of $116,751 spread across each school year; the purchase of district-wide door prop alarms at a cost of $69,364.49, which will be funded through grants; a one-year service agreement with Cintas, Inc. for service and inspections of the fire alarm and sprinkler systems district wide, which will renew annually unless canceled; a three-year service agreement with H.T. Lyons to annually service, test and document the district’s 23 back-flow-preventers at a cost of $4,820 for year one, $5,020 for year two, and $5,220 for year three; and the proposal from Otis Elevator Company on the amount of $29,250 to upgrade the elevator at George Wolf Elementary.
Director Kim Bretzik proposed a motion to table two items in relation to the Route 329 elementary school project until the next school board meeting because of the board’s unanimous poll to keep Moore Elementary open. Bretzik felt that moving forward without having a plan and data in front of her makes her believe that Moore Elementary is still being excluded from the capital improvement projects and will inevitably close, so she did not feel confident voting on those items. Director Doug Vaughn also voted in favor of tabling the items, but the rest of the board voted not to table those agenda items.
By majority vote, the board approved the advertisement for bids for the Route 329 Elementary School and Education Center with only Bretzik opposing the motion.
By majority vote, the board also approved and authorized the school board president to execute an Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement For Sanitary Sewer Collection entered into between East Allen Township and NASD for the purpose of transmission and treatment of sewage generated by the new Route 329 Elementary School and Education Center, which will be constructed in accordance with approvals granted by East Allen Township and other agencies having jurisdiction over the project, with Bretzik and Vaughn opposing the motion.
In other business, under finances, the board unanimously approved the following items: the Memorandum of Understanding for First Alt Transportation on an as needed basis and provide additional transportation options for students for the upcoming school year; the service of Atlas Transportation, Inc. on an as needed basis and to provide additional transportation options for students for the upcoming school year; the Treasurer’s Report; Public Official Bonds through Willis of Pennsylvania, Inc. with Fidelity & Deposit Company of Maryland as the carrier for the assistant board secretary and board treasurer; transfer of the remaining balance from the Lehigh Elementary Bond Fund to the General Fund; a contract with BHA to provide education and behavioral services to students; a contract with Lehigh Learning Academy to provide education and behavioral services to district students; the collaborative agreement/contract for services between Center for Humanistic Change and NASD for 2023-24 to provide liaison services for the Student Assistance Program; the partnership between Mid-Atlantic Rehabilitation Services and NASD for 2023-24 to provide counseling, student support services and remedial programming for the Student Assistance Program; the Bills for Payment; and the Memorandum of Agreement for services between Valley Youth House and NASD for the upcoming school year to provide additional counseling services at the middle school, Moore Elementary, George Wolf Elementary, Lehigh Elementary and Siegfried Elementary at a cost not to exceed $90,000 paid for through grants secured by Valley Youth House.
Last, the board unanimously approved the items listed under miscellaneous including the list of active first student drivers/operators and the acceptance of a bench by the family of Jessica Finlayson to honor Jessica’s memory and the time she spent as a teacher at the middle school.
The next Northampton School Board meeting will be held on Monday, September 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Northampton Area High School auditorium, located at 1619 Laubach Ave.