School board fills empty seat; one remains
One of the priorities at the May 7 Catasauqua Area School District Board of Education meeting was to fill the board seat left vacant by the resignation of Christine Nace. It was unanimously voted to elect Jillian Emert, who will be officially sworn in before the May 21 meeting.
There remains an empty seat on the board after the resignation of Rodney Nace.
Donald Panto was voted to continue in his role of board treasurer. It was a unanimous vote, with Panto abstaining.
Shelley Keffer, coordinator of student services, presented the safety and crisis management annual report.
“We have accomplished every one of the goals we set,” she mentioned.
Keffer recognized Police Chief Douglas Kish, Fire Chief Rich Hertzog and Joe Carl, emergency management coordinator for Catasauqua Borough, as integral in all of the advances the school has taken in the past year.
She reported the district took part in several tabletop discussions, lockdown drills, fire drills, tornado drills and Stop the Bleed training. The district also added mental health professionals from Salisbury Mental Health in the schools. The biggest undertaking of the year was the active shooter drill held at Catasauqua Middle School.
“A lot of people put their hearts and souls into it,” Carl said regarding the drill. “The teachers are embracing the culture of safety.”
“It was a great learning experience for everyone involved,” Kish said. “Hopefully, we can expand this and do an even bigger drill in the future.”
Another new feature mentioned was the addition of two school resource officers in the district. Officers Jenna Dumansky-Potak and Pat Best are working with the students and administration to make the schools a better place.
“I don’t think we could have found two better officers,” Kish said.
Keffer also noted the district has implemented the Safe2Say Something program at the middle and high schools, which allows students to anonymously report incidents or problems.
When discussing future goals, Keffer mentioned the planning has begun for an active shooter drill at Sheckler Elementary School, a Catasauqua High School parent reunification drill, safe classroom environment implementation at the high school, QPR training with Salisbury Mental Health and the possible addition of the Navigate Prepared app to help keep lines of communication clear and open between administrators and teachers.
CMS Principal Melissa Inselmann recognized the CMS Green Team members for their efforts. The Green Team consists of fifth-grade students Maliya Walp, Lilian Delabar, Matthew Beck, Dylan Lorah, Alivia Kurczewski and Julia Harth. Dylan could not attend the meeting. Inselmann recognized the students and presented them with certificates of appreciation.
The Green Team is responsible for implementing a Share Table at the middle school, as well as starting recycling efforts. Additionally, any food left on the Share Table is stored and delivered to Catasauqua Community Food Bank twice a week.
Superintendent Robert Spengler presented the proposed final budget for the 2019-20 school year. The balanced budget has revenue and expenses at $32,932,278. The anticipated real estate tax is 19.51 mills for Lehigh County and 61.11 mills for Northampton County. The board is expected to vote on the final budget at the June 11 meeting.
The board approved an agreement with Suburban North Family YMCA. The YMCA is permitted to use two of the district’s school buses and drivers in exchange for access to the YMCA’s fitness rooms and gymnasium facility for middle and high school athletes to use during June, July and August. The YMCA will incur all driver and fuel expenses.
The district also received approval to apply for all state or federal programs or grants and all vocational programs applicable to the school district.
In other business, the board approved D’Huy Engineering to perform a feasibility study on Alumni Field. The district is interested in a future renovation of the field.
The first reading of a new extracurricular code of conduct policy was also approved by board members.
It was also noted that the graduation for Catasauqua High School is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 3 in the high school gymnasium, 2500 W. Bullshead Road, Northampton.
Catasauqua Middle School Star Players of the Month for March are Benjamin Pletz, fifth grade; Lynkan Moore, sixth grade; Donovan Bonilla, seventh grade; and Jaxon Berrier, eighth grade. The Star Players for April are Brianna Abbott, fifth grade; Jaden Jordan, sixth grade; Alex Sasdi, seventh grade; and Aliyah Barry, eighth grade.
There will be special board meetings 6 p.m. May 21 and 22 (as needed) regarding the charter renewal of Innovative Arts Academy Charter School. The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 11. All meetings will take place in the district administration board room, 201 N. 14th St.