Program coordinator resigns
The community education program in Northampton Area School District may be in limbo following the resignation of Margaret Schell, the coordinator for five years and credited with making it solvent.
Schell’s resignation, effective June 22, was accepted by a unanimous 9-0 vote at the June 25 NASD Board of Education meeting.
The vote on Schell’s resignation was an addendum to the June 25 agenda. Following the meeting, NASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik said he received Schell’s letter of resignation June 22.
During the meeting, Kovalchik said the community education program coordinator job vacancy was to be advertised June 16, but applicants, if any, would need to be reviewed, interviewed and vetted. The school board next meets 6:30 p.m. July 16. There is only one July school board meeting.
“I’m not sure we’re going to have enough time for the fall,” Kovalchik said to school directors, adding, “You may have to decide on whether to keep the program or not.”
Kovalchik said it would be a challenge for a new coordinator to firm up the program, advertise it and get it underway in time for the fall 2018-19 school year.
“We’re not sure if we can get someone in place. If we do, we may have to wait until January to start the program to give the person time to get it started,” Kovalchik said.
The fall session is to begin in September with registration starting in August, according to the NASD website.
More realistically, the program could restart in January 2019 for the spring term, Kovalchik said.
According to NASD officials, the program has 100 adult participants who pay a fee for each of 10 courses held at Northampton Area High School, Northampton Area Middle School and Siegfried Elementary School.
According to the NASD website, anticipated adult evening classes for fall 2018 and fees (as of spring 2018 for each series of courses), include: guitar 1 and 2, $75; indoor spin cycling for adults, $125; water aerobics, $84; open men’s basketball, $45; open quilting, $45; multilevel adult yoga, $84; adult lap swim, $84; knitting and crochet for beginners, $45; adult physical education classes, $60; and mat Pilates, $45.
There must be a minimum number of registrants for each class, the website states, without stipulating the minimum.
The website states a water aerobics instructor is sought to teach adults two evenings per week for 10 weeks in the fall and 13 weeks in the spring. The instructor must have certification or experience and must pass clearance requirements.
The school board votes annually on whether or not to continue the program.
The program made a $1,400 profit for the 2017-18 school year, administration officials said. Administration and school board officials said the goal of the program is not to make a profit but to break even.
The program lost $1,456 for the 2012-13 school year, less than the $1,637 loss for the 2011-12 school year.
Schell, appointed coordinator in January 2013, is credited by school officials with turning the program around. NASD paid Schell $4,000 for the 2017-18 school year, with no benefits, to run the program.
The district website states, “It is the goal of the community education program to offer the opportunity to participate in courses that range from education, fitness and leisure to personal interests and the arts. These courses are offered with an emphasis on quality instruction at affordable prices.”
In addition, Kovalchik told a reporter for The Press he did not anticipate any problems for the 2018-19 school year with the ending of funding by Northampton Borough for school crossing guards.
Northampton Borough Council voted in April to end paying its half of the funding for approximately five crossing guards, mostly stationed along Laubach Avenue at NAHS, and at NAMS and borough elementary schools. There are no crossing guards in the district other than in Northampton.
Kovalchik said more information about the crossing guards program will be forthcoming.
School directors learned NASD is expected to net an increase of only $14,000 in the recently-approved Pennsylvania 2018 budget.
“I have to give kudos to the state for doing something they haven’t done for a long time — approve a budget before the June 30 deadline,” Kovalchik quipped.
Gov. Tom Wolf signed the 2018 Pennsylvania budget June 22.
NASD will receive an additional $152,000 in funding and will receive an increase of $52,000 in special education funding. The district will also receive $100,000 in basic education funding, which is $38,000 less than planned in the 2018-19 NASD budget.
That works out to an increase of $14,000, which NASD Business Administrator Terry Leh said would be placed into the district general fund.
A public hearing for the proposed Lehigh Elementary School project is to be held 6:30 p.m. Aug. 16 in the administration building, 2014 Laubach Ave. The hearing is mandated by the commonwealth under Act 34.
In other business, school directors voted 9-0 to accept the resignation of Cora Snyder, assistant principal at borough elementary schools, effective June 30. Snyder has been appointed principal at Steckel Elementary School in the Whitehall-Coplay School District.
Kovalchik announced 120 students attended Camp Invention at Northampton Area Middle School held June 18-21.
“There was a lot of technology this year,” NASD Director of Curriculum and Instruction Lydia Hanner said. “They built a robot dog and did architectural pieces.”
Reduced prices for students were made possible through a contribution from Northampton Area Konkrete Kids Educational Foundation.