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Contentious items on Lehighton school agenda tonight

Published February 26. 2018 11:48AM

Lehighton Area School District’s board of directors is scheduled to conduct regular business tonight for the first time since November.

In addition to the traditional sections of finance, personnel and programs, tonight’s agenda includes a section called “Directors’ Concerns.”

The section includes a dozen motions for the board to vote on including:

• “that before the sale of any land, buildings or real estate property the district acquire two independent appraisals of said property.”

• “that before sale of any land, buildings or real estate property the district is required to acquire and publicly publish, at a minimum, a Phase I environmental site report, mechanical and electrical building assessment by the bidding of said work either collectively or individually to reputable firms honoring transferable liability of the report to the successful purchaser of the property.”

• “that before the sale of any land, buildings or real estate property the district advertise the properties for not less than six months, and specifically advertise said assets to a wide geographical area marketing to businesses that would increase the employment of the region.”

• “that the board issue rebate checks equal to 0.76 mills for the tax year 2017 and carry the tax decrease forward for the 2018 tax year as well.”

• “that the Lehighton school board formally apologize for the way it treated a decorated veteran at the meeting where Superintendent (Jonathan) Cleaver and then President Gloria Bowman apparently signaled a police officer to remove him from a meeting.”

• “that the Lehighton school board schedule time with a representative from The Office of Open Records to facilitate the training needed to provide a transparent district, saving the district hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

• “that this board hosts a voter referendum on the use and disposition of the ongoing construction project, and if more feasible, a unique and numbered ballot vote be distributed and collected in the manner described by David F Bradley Sr. to ensure transparency in data collection.”

• “that the district passes on the savings this board has uncovered in this meeting in the form of a rebate check. The people of the district know best how to use their money and leaving money in the district funds has been proven to leads (sic) to overspending and frivolous spending, so in the future, the district send a check quarterly to the taxpayers of the district for dollars saved on the budget through the proactive action of this board.”

• “that the district adopt ‘Roberts Rule of Order’ to provide order in the proceedings of the district.”

• “that the Lehighton Area School District apologize for the behavior of Larry Stern, as his actions were not of a collective board as prescribed in the school policy.”

• “that the district host a town forum on three evenings on different days of the week including one weekend, for the citizens to attend and talk to the board openly, without oppression, with Joy, Dave or Gail as moderator to ensure the gavel will not be used.”

• “for equal Pennsylvania School Board Association access to all elected board members.”

According to district policy, “it is the responsibility of the superintendent, in cooperation with the board president, to prepare an agenda of the items of business to come before the board at each regular meeting. However, board members may submit items for the agenda in writing together with supporting materials before noon five days before regularly scheduled board meetings. All items shall appear under the category Directors’ Concerns. Any items under any category shall be stricken from the agenda with a majority vote of the board.”

The district’s board is currently split with four board members including Gail Maholick, Joy Beers, David Bradley Sr. and Richard Beltz Jr. having publicly voiced opposition to Lehighton’s recent building program, which included a $6.3 million multipurpose athletic stadium and a $33 million elementary center set to open in the fall. It was not clear at press time which director placed the items on the agenda.

With the opening of the elementary center, Lehighton plans to close its four existing elementary schools. The East Penn and Mahoning schools have already sold for $350,000 each.

The group of eight will be back together Tuesday morning in front of Carbon County President Judge Roger Nanovic at 9 a.m. for a hearing on the appointment of a ninth and final board member.

The board meets at 7 tonight. Check for updates from the meeting.

The oath of a school director required the directors to follow the law, state, federal amd local. Stakeholder input is a crucial part of those laws. This board missed that responsibility for so many years. The law allowing directors concerns onto the agenda is just one method to open the discussion. Previously, the Superintendent and Board President fully controlled the items on the agenda. Well, welcome to a world where directors read the rules. Thank you for your votes and faith in my ability to read the laws for the benefit of the stakeholders.

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