In anticipation of a possible re-vote on the proposed building plan for the district, a large crowd attended the Lehighton Area School Board meeting on Monday evening. However, school board President Dave Krause announced at the outset, "There will be no action taken on the proposed building project at this meeting."
At a special meeting last Thursday evening, the motion to move ahead with the proposed building project failed to pass on a 4-3 vote. A majority vote of the board is required when spending money. Since the school board is comprised of nine members, at least five votes are needed for any motion to spend money. Two board members abstained.
Despite the announcement made by Krause, several community members addressed the school board during the courtesy of the floor portion of the meeting. Voicing the same opposition as addressed at the meeting last week, the taxpayers' concerns came down to the "bottom line" money.
"This is the wrong time to build," summed up Betty Wolfe.
Board member William Hill volunteered to contact the Department of Education in Harrisburg to inquire about other alternatives to the building issues, "as not to burden the taxpayers of Lehighton Area School District."
Krause asked Hill to chair this committee and also requested board members Hal Resh and Wayne Wentz to serve on it. He charged them to come back to the school board with other possible resolutions to the building issues.
"The whole idea is to do what's best for our students," said Krause. "We'll continue the process, but the clock continues to tick. Something has to be done."
In other business, Superintendent James Kraky recognized board member Duane Eidem for his eight years of dedicated service to the school board.
"Mr. Eidem has been at all but three meetings over an eight-year period. His dedication to our district and community has been noteworthy," Kraky continued.
"He has been a model board member always looking at both sides of issues and making the best recommendations possible."
Kraky also announced that five schools in the district have been recognized with this year's Keystone Achievement Award, which is given to public schools that have achieved "Adequate Yearly Progress," or AYP, for two consecutive years. He presented the awards for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years to principals Gretchen Laviolette for East Penn and Franklin Elementary Schools; Aaron Sebelin for Mahoning and Shull-David Elementary Schools; and Dr. Mark McGalla for Lehighton Area Middle School.
"These awards reinforce the hard work our schools are doing and the success their students are achieving," Kraky said. "Keystones reflect the commitment of students, families, teachers, and the entire LASD education community.
"Just as our schools proudly display athletic and extracurricular accomplishments, displaying this Achievement Award is a way to acknowledge the school's academic requirements," continued Kraky.
He noted that the high school also achieved AYP status for the 2010-2011 school year.
"We are confident that they will be receiving an Achievement Award next year after having two consecutive years of academic achievement."
Student representative to the school board, Shyanne Kleintop, announced that LAHS students will be playing bingo with residents of the Lehighton Highrise on Wednesday. Students will also be partnering with the American Red Cross for a blood drive on Nov. 29 at Zion United Church of Christ in Lehighton from 2:30-6 p.m.
In addition, LAHS students are working on Christmas cards to be distributed to wounded soldiers and residents of local nursing homes.
LAHS Principal Tim Tkach reported that the Lehighton Area Drug and Alcohol Task Force will host an informational session on Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at LAHS. The program is being presented by the Pyramid Health Group and is entitled "Latest Legal Drugs of Abuse."
On Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m., also at LAHS, the task force will host a program with local police departments and municipalities to discuss the problem of drug and alcohol abuse as well as the possibility of creating a community crime watch. All interested community members are invited and encouraged to attend both programs and become involved.
In addition, Tkach said he is working with the Lehighton Rotary Club on the "Straight-Up Drug Awareness Program." It is modeled after a similar program in Luzerne County where a convicted inmate addresses students and the community regarding the perils of drug and alcohol use and abuse. To date, more than 45,000 students in Luzerne County have heard this important message.
In other business, the school board approved the recommendation to hire Daniel Repsher as assistant high school principal at a prorated salary of $70,000, pending clearances. His tentative start date is Monday, Dec. 19. Repsher replaces Craig Reichl who resigned, effective Nov. 30. Stephen Ebbert was appointed interim assistant high school principal until a replacement is hired and on-site.
Krause thanked school board member John Finnegan for his two years of service, citing specifically Finnegan's vision for a drug and alcohol task force.
"I've learned a lot in two years. I walk away with pride," Finnegan said. "The most important people in our community are not clergy, doctors, or lawyers. It's our teachers."
The next meeting of the school board is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at LASD Administration Building, Conference Room A. The board will reorganize at that time. The public is encouraged to attend.
For more information about LASD, visit www.Lehighton.org.