Board shares Committee reports, updated COVID-19 data

The+ESC+on+a+cool+November+afternoon.

Connor Niszczak

The ESC on a cool November afternoon.

For the first time since students returned to classrooms in a hybrid format, the North Penn School Board met; they discussed the latest month of Committee reports and gave up to date information on North Penn’s COVID-19 data.

The meeting began with the approval of minutes from the October 15 action meeting, then launched right into the monthly Committee meeting.

Finance Committe Chair Christian Fusco shared that the last finance meeting discussed the 2019-20 audit report, per pupil budget allocations for the 2021-22 school year, and Knapp/Crawford Stadium change orders. Documents and further information can be found here (audit) and here (allocations).  

Safe Schools Committee Chair Jonathan Kassa summarized the presentation Emergency Management Coordinator Chris Doerr gave, detailing how fire, hold, and evacuation drills will be conducted while still adhering to COVID-19 protocols. Safe Schools also discussed health and safety expectations for students and staff across the district, and the implementation of a district wide COVID-19 case data dashboard. 

The Education/Curriculum/Instruction Committee, chaired by Dr. Elisha Gee, finalized the 2021-22 calendar, and discussed a number of course changes for the 2021-22 school year, all of which are explained in detail here. English 8 5.0 and America in History 1 (8th SS) 5.0 will be removed, and British Literature will no longer be a required course for seniors. Two new courses, Spatial Computing and Practical Applications in Science, will be implemented into the secondary curriculum.

The Facilities/Operations Committee recommended the approval of Knapp, Montgomery, and Crawford Stadium change orders (which the Board approved later in the meeting), and received their monthly update on the status of the Knapp and Crawford projects. Fac/Ops also presented to the Board a bid for additional purchases of plexiglass from Polymershapes for $11,5000, which was later unanimously approved. The plexiglass will be used for additional classroom and office barriers.

Juliane Ramic shared that the 19th annual North Penn Educational Foundation (NPEA) golf outing was its most successful ever, raising over $31,000, and an additional $15,000 through internal staff fundraisers. Additionally, there will be an upcoming “North Penn Strong” holiday apparel sale.

In the Superintendent’s Report, the Board approved the aforementioned change orders and course changes, and re-elected Assistant Superintendent Todd Bauer for another five years until July 14, 2026.

“We {Board members} came in with an ambitious agenda, and you’ve {Bauer} been an intrical part in a lot of it,” Board Vice President Fusco said.

In his Financial Report, CFO Steve Skrocki gave an update on the free meals served by School Nutrition Services (SNS) since the start of the pandemic. The total currently sits at 681,000 free meals served, with the one million mark expected to be reached in early 2021.

The Board then shifted into a discussion of the past two weeks of hybrid learning, and the rising COVID cases within the North Penn community. As of Thursday night, there have been 11 confirmed staff cases and 26 confirmed student cases. 

As of this moment, we are not aware of any linked transmission within our schools — linked transmission would be where someone in our school clearly contracted the virus from somebody else in our school.”

— Superintendent Dr. Curt Dietrich

“It is clearly concerning to us, as we see what is going on in the community. As of this moment, we are not aware of any linked transmission within our schools — linked transmission would be where someone in our school clearly contracted the virus from somebody else in our school,” Superintendent Dr. Curt Dietrich said.

During the week of October 9th, before any North Penn students were back in classrooms, the positivity rate for district residents was at 1.8%. Over the past five weeks, that number has rapidly increased, currently at 6.6%. The incident rate currently sits at 194.4 per 100,000 residents, as of November 18th. 

Since the return to school, Dietrich and members of the Board have visited schools, and shared that overall, they are operating at roughly 26% capacity, with an average class size of only 6-7 students.

I really, really want to call out the hard work that is being done by all of our members of our community. From the moment a child boards a bus, or when they arrive in the morning to school, the way they are delivered to our school, and welcomed into our school, it’s just been phenomenal.”

— Superintendent Dr. Curt Dietrich

“I really, really want to call out the hard work that is being done by all of our members of our community. From the moment a child boards a bus, or when they arrive in the morning to school, the way they are delivered to our school, and welcomed into our school, it’s just been phenomenal,” added Dietrich.

The next School Board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on December 7.