Northampton Press

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Thursday, August 14, 2014 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Local News

NASD approves 33 traffic monitors

August may seem like the perfect time to get in a few more weeks of summer relaxation.

There's no rest for administrators in Northampton Area School District where preparations are well under way for the 2014-15 year.

Getting students to and from school safely was of concern at Monday night's school board meeting.

The NASD board voted 8-0, with one school director absent, to approve 33 traffic duty monitors at six district schools, effect Aug. 25, the first day of school, through the 2014-15 school year.

The secondary campus will have 30 monitors; Borough Elementary Schools will have six; Lehigh Elementary School, George Wolf Elementary School and Moore Elementary School will have three each.

Monitors are on outside duty, 6:45-7:30 a.m. and 2:30-2:50 p.m., on the secondary campus, and 8:40-9:15 a.m. and 3:30-4 p.m., at the elementary schools.

The monitors are teachers, instructional assistants, administrators and school and, at some locations, municipal police.

Monitors are said to be crucial to efficient traffic flow and student safety.

Traffic monitors are needed because of the number of students dropped off and picked up in parents' vehicles, and students who walk to school.

Also, at the secondary campus, there are new traffic patterns because of middle school construction.

The high school and middle school campus, 1619 Laubach Ave., Northampton, must accommodate 50 buses, 2,400 students and 250 staffers.

"It can get very congested. A lot of parents bring their children," said NASD Superintendent Joseph Kovalchik.

School board President David Gogel said larger parking lots at Lehigh and Moore are on the facilities improvements agenda. "Those are things we should address," said Gogel.

Board member Jean Rundle questioned the number of buses required in light of parents' driving students to school.

"It amazes me. We supply buses to deliver the students safely. Why must the parents bring their students?" Rundle asked. "Why are we paying for these buses and the parents aren't making use of it?"

"Yeah, the buses are not full. There's somewhat of an unsafe situation created by 200 to 300 extra cars coming on this [secondary] campus," said board member Dr. Michael Baird.

"If we could outlaw it [parents dropping off students] somehow, but I don't think we could," Baird said.

Kovalchik told the Northampton Press after the meeting that the number of traffic monitors for 2014-15 is the same as that for 2013-14.

Aug. 11 was the first day of fall sports and extra-curricular activities in NASD.

"It's great to see the student athletes along with the extracurriculars," said Kovalchik, who visited practices Monday.

The teachers' first day of school is Aug. 18.

"And, one year, hopefully, from now, we will have the new middle school functioning," said Gogel.

NASD Director of Operations Robert J. Yanders, in his report on the $80.7-million Northampton Area Middle School and Secondary Campus Renovation Project, said that steel trusses for the new middle school roof were put in place Aug. 8, with a second delivery Aug. 11.

"We've made a lot of progress," Kovalchik said. "The goal is to get the [new middle school] roof on before Thanksgiving."

Decisions on middle school curriculum, personnel and furniture are expected to be made by January 2015, he said.

"The structure is taking shape. I think the community is very excited," Kovalchik said.

Kovalchik said that he and Yanders will present a school progress report at the Northampton Borough Council Aug. 21 meeting.