Lehigh Valley

First day at East Penn schools a bumpy ride

EMMAUS, Pa. - While the first day of school in the East Penn School District was hardly a fiasco, by their own account there's room for improvement.

The area lacking was that of transportation, according to comments made by Superintendent J. Michael Schilder during Monday night's board of directors meeting.

Thanks to some bus driver mistakes, late registrations and incorrect addresses, about 20 students never made the school bus that was supposed to be their ride to school.

"There's no question there were some errors on our part," said Schilder.

There were also delays in the morning and afternoon routes as well, the superintendent noted. As a result, Schilder said he wanted "additional phones" to be manned in the near future.

"We need to make sure we get back to parents," he said. "...There is nothing more frustrating than calling and hearing endless ringing or a busy signal."

While the superintendent didn't have a crystal ball with him, he did assess the district's prospects for improvement.

"I believe we will have a better day Tuesday," Schilder said.

In other business Monday night, by a 9-0 vote, the board approved the refinancing of $11.2 million worth of outstanding general obligation, Series A of 2005 bonds.

The vote followed presentations by financial adviser Scott Shearer, managing director at Public Financial Management, and bond counsel Jon Cox, Esq., of Rhoads & Sinon.

Shearer noted the district's "commendable" credit rating spurred the interest of investors to the 15-minute bond sale, ultimately secured by financial services firm Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC, saving the district money in the process.

During a public comment session at the start of the meeting, resident Chris Donatelli accused the district and board of negotiating the recently approved teachers contract behind closed doors.

"In typical fashion, the board failed to provide transparency," Donatelli said of the negotiations.

Officially approved August 11th, teachers will receive pay raises of 2.5 percent each year of the four-year pact, which begins July 1st, 2015.

Last year Donatelli ran a failed campaign for board director..

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