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Lehighton School Board approves teachers' contract, raises taxes 1 mill

Published May 25. 2010 05:00PM

Among the motions made Monday night by members of Lehighton Area School Board was to accept the resignation of a board member and to adopt a 1.04 mill tax increase.

Evelyn Semanoff's resignation was accepted by the board. Her term would expire in December 2011.

The tax increase vote was not unanimous. Voting no for the tax increase were board members Duane Eidem and William J. Hill.

After interviewing the two candidates for the vacated position, the board selected Jack Finnegan of Mahoning Township. Finnegan said that his primary goal "was to do whatever I can and promote whatever I can or to make sure whatever I can to keep young people away from substance abuse."

The second applicant was Rocky Ahner of Franklin Township, who said his goal would be to improve security in the school district.

The board had a lengthy agenda and during the meeting they made many more decisions and also listened to several presentations by staff members. Among the motions was an approval of the contract with the Lehighton Area Professional Association. The general salary portion of the contract will be retroactive to Aug. 31 when the previous contract expired. The contract calls for a 3.5 percent salary increase the first year, 3.25 percent the second year and 3 percent the third year.

There was no discussion of the district's service employees' contract. This is the second year the service personnel are working without a contract.

The board also approved making repairs to the exterior masonry wall at the high school and to approve replacing the corridor flooring in East Penn Elementary School. JMSI Environmental Corp. was also hired at a cost of $2,750 to manage and supervise the asbestos abatement project and air monitoring project at East Penn.

Joseph Hauser, director of maintenance for the district, also updated the board on lead paint legislation that was recently passed into law. He noted that a lead paint inspection will be required in private and commercial buildings constructed before 1978. He said that JMSI Environmental can complete the inspection in all district facilities for $2.950. Hauser said that he was planning to become certified in lead paint testing.

The board approved paying the food service fund at a cost of $72,537.04 and the athletic fund at a cost of $24,308.51. Also approved was a food service contract with Chartwells School Dining Services for 2010-2011.

The board also unanimously approved payment of general fund bills and approved the Homestead and Farmland Exclusion Resolution. Homestead and farmstead exclusions shifts the local tax burden from the real property tax to the earned income tax.

Making presentations were Shaun McElmoyle, who provided a synopsis of the audit for special education services in the district, Bernard Shea and Jacob Marushak, who head up the technology education curriculum in the high school; Christi Marchelli, who spoke on the Books of Hope project; and Matthew Fisher and Sarah Bednar, who spoke about the successes of the Red Cross Club.

McElmoyle said that the school district has some areas that need improvement, but that overall the district does well to provide special education services to students who need the service. He said that Lehighton does an outstanding job keeping the students within the district.

Shea and Marushak put on a presentation that outlined the technology department's goals and how the new equipment will bring the district into the present for students who want to learn more about the production of television journalism. They said that the district has purchased a reflecmedia studio bundle, mackie audio mixer, Apple iMac computer, Canon professional digital camera and proline teleprompter that will allow students to produce, edit and mix media to produce programs in the school studio. There will be virtual sets, post-production editing and webcasting capabilities that they hope to develop a journalism course with the help of the English department.

"We'll be able to broadcast community news and events," said Shea.

"For 2010, we have 439 students requesting up for Technology Information and Marushak and I can do 12 sections, but with the number of students who want to take this class, it would be 19 sections, so we are asking you to consider reinstating a technology education position, which we lost when Mr. Cunfer retired," said Shea. "Hopefully we can get that position reinstated."

Marchelli spoke about the successful Books of Hope Project that has brought seniors and freshmen working together to make books for a poverty stricken school in Uganda. She said that the books made by the students are the only books the children in Africa have to use in their school.

Sarah Bednar, president of the Red Cross Club, provided an update on the many projects undertaken by students in the community to help those in need. She said that among the projects done by students were: helped at needy dinners, collected food, donated blood and picked up trash.

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