8/24/20 School Board Meeting Guide

Here’s a summary of last night’s East Penn school board meeting:

School Sports

Athletics were not on the agenda nor discussed by the board. But several community members urged the board to keep district sports programs open even if school instruction is remote (watch here). Superintendent Campbell also provided an update on the guidance from the two governing athletic bodies, the PIAA and the EPC. Both currently call for fall sports seasons to be delayed but continued in modified form. Campbell said the district’s current plan is to follow this guidance, including any changes to their recommendations that might come in the future (watch here).

Staffing Issues

The district has previously announced that Emmaus High School, Eyer Middle School, and Lower Macungie Middle School would all begin the school year fully remote. This decision was due to critical staffing issues that made it impossible to open these schools safely for hybrid in-person instruction until at least late October.

Superintendent Campbell offered more details on these staffing issues at last night’s meeting (watch here). A sidenote of my own here: The district has known for months that staffing might be a challenge during the pandemic, the board has been discussing such issues in public meetings since the pandemic began, and it has been enough of a concern that it was written into the health and safety plan for reopening the schools as one of just four possible “triggers” for closing schools to in-person instruction. The fact that this issue forced a change last week should therefore not be a surprise to anyone. The claims I’ve heard from some people that the district hasn’t been transparent about these staffing issues are also unfounded. Not only have staffing concerns been discussed in public meetings now for months, but the district publishes the name, position, and effective date of every single resignation and leave of absence among its more than 1,200 employees. It also publicly advertises for its open positions. So here too, there are no secrets or surprises.

Sinkholes in the Stadium

Sinkholes were discovered under the track at the EHS stadium after the big rainstorms earlier this month. The board authorized approximately $30,000 in immediate remediation repairs last night. The total cost for repair is expected to be approximately $165,00-$180,000, some of which might be covered by insurance. Watch the discussion here, documents for the first remediation repairs are available here.

A Final Word of Wisdom

As we continue to work through what is really an unprecedented pandemic, our students are watching how we, the adults, respond to change and how we respond to disappointment…We know that we are all role models. And so let us model strength, resilience, and support for each other as we continue to work through these times.

– East Penn Superintendent Kristen Campbell

Superintendent Campbell offered some of the wisest advice last night that I have heard in the countless hours of discussion, debate, and argument since the pandemic began. I’ve excerpted them above, but you can watch them in full for yourself too:

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