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District to reinstitute 1.5 teaching positions

Published July 13. 2011 05:01PM

Palmerton Area School District will reinstitute 1.5 teaching positions courtesy of Accountability Block Grant funds.

The school board, on an 8-0 vote at a special meeting on Tuesday, agreed to utilize $115,408 in ABG funds to fund one full-time high school English teacher and a .5 third-grade teacher at S.S. Palmer Elementary. Director Darlene Yeakel was absent.

Sherrie Fenner, director of curriculum and instruction, told the board the plan is to combine the half position with a half kindergarten teacher position that currently exists to make it a full-time third grade teacher position.

Fenner said the funding will allow for class size reduction. She said third grade class sizes will be reduced from about 30 to the lower 20s, while sections will be added for high school English to reduce class sizes from over 30 to the lower to mid-20s. There also exists the potential for AP English to be brought back as well, Fenner said.

Of the funds, Fenner said $94,600 will be used for salary/benefits for the 1.5 teaching positions; $14,335 will be used to reinstate dual enrollment courses; $5,873 will be use to reinstate the after school program at Towamensing Elementary; and $600 will be used for instructional supplies.

Fenner told the board that the district's administrative team made the recommendation to bring back the positions upon the receipt of the ABG funds.

Retired instructor Audrey Larvey lauded the board for its decision.

"Thank you, thank you; if you didn't have AP classes and smaller class sizes, you would be jeopardizing many students opportunities," Larvey said. "I commend you. This is an excellent, excellent decision."

Also on Tuesday, the board agreed to adopt a Memorandum of Understanding between the district and various administrators that calls for a wage freeze for the 2011-12 school year.

That includes Act 93 administrators, the superintendent, the business administrator, director of human resources, confidential secretary to the superintendent, confidential secretary to the business administrator, and confidential secretary to the director of human resources.

In an unrelated matter, Superintendent Carol Boyce announced that district has received a $3,000 Activities Supplies for Hands-on-Learning grant.

Boyce said the grant will enable the district to purchase binoculars and microscopes for students to take along with them for use at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.

In other business, the board:

- Approved, on a 7-1 vote with Director Susan Debski opposed, the Nutrikids POS Accountability System at the cost of $27,770, paid from the cafeteria fund.

- Appointed Yeakel as a voting delegate to participate in the PSBA Legislative Policy Council meeting on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, during the School Leadership Conference in Hershey.

- Denied Palmerton Area Education Support Personnel Association grievance #2011-02.

- Denied Palmerton Area Education Association grievance #2011-05.

- Approved disability leave in conjunction with family medical leave beginning Aug. 24, 2011, for employee #2588. The return to work date is to be determined.

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