Upper Perkiomen School Board Treasurer Jeffrey Feirick announced his resignation Thursday, which the board reluctantly accepted. Feirick, whose resignation was effective as of midnight Friday, said he will be accepting a new job based in Indiana.
However, he said he would like to still be able to award a high school diploma to his son at this year's graduation. The board had no problem with that.
Board members reminisced about the time Feirick has spent on the board and the impact he has had as a member. Now, the board will hold interviews for a new director, who must be appointed in the next 30 days.
In other news, Sue King was named assistant to the superintendent for curriculum, instruction and technology at the Education Center, effective March 10. The position is new and King's salary will be increased from $111,000 to $130,000 annually. King was previously the director of teaching and learning.
East Greenville Mayor Ryan Sloyer questioned the need for the new position, saying that money should instead be used to hire more teachers or support staff. "I don't have a problem with creating positions we can afford," Sloyer said. "But I also think we need to really, seriously look at what's in the classroom and who's helping in the classroom – focus on that more."
According to board member Margie Gehlhaus, "The most important purpose for the new position and reconstruction of Dr. King's former position is to emphasize the types of learning environments and curricular instruction our students need at each level … in order to be successful in their futures."
Board member John Gehman also spoke in support of the new position, saying that a presentation by King at an earlier meeting "gave me a whole new perspective and a whole new confidence that the money we're spending on technology will be used in the curriculum and advance our curriculum further than in the past."
Sloyer said he was unable to attend that presentation.
Resident Kim Wheeler, during the public comment period, said she was "a little disheartened" at the school district budget meeting held last week because board members were cutting off discussions that were not solely related to the budget. Wheeler also criticized the board for not fully representing the voice of the community as it pertains to educational items like tax increases and teaching aides' hours.
"If the board was, or if I, personally, made a comment that was out of line, it was nothing personal," Scott said, apologizing. "The conversation is there for the budget. I felt the conversation was straying away from the budget and into programing. We were not there to discuss programing that particular evening."
He continued, responding to Wheeler's other comments, "I think we do listen to you, but we still have the right to vote based on our own research and beliefs."
Speaking about the aides, he said, "Just because we are reducing the hours of our aides, we are not neglecting the students…There is not one person on this board that wanted to do what we did… If this is the way we're going to have to do it, then we have to adjust.
"But we are not neglecting our students. It was insinuated at a budget meeting, it was insinuated by you this evening and it's been insinuated to me by many people in the public, and I am tired of hearing [it], I'll be honest with you. Our students are fine...Our students are being taken care of and I just don't want anyone to think they're not."
Also at the meeting, Karen Kline, founder and administrator of the Red Hill Christian School, questioned why the school, which is a nonprofit entity, has not been granted tax-exempt status on two acres of land purchased in 2010. According to Kline, similar schools have not been required to pay taxes, but the Red Hill preschool property has not been given that designation since it opened in 2011.
Scott responded by reading a written statement from the board, saying that the property was determined not to be tax-exempt. He declined to speak further about the issue because of pending litigation.
In addition, substitute Superintendent Francis Leskowicz announced that videos of school board meetings and workshops will now be posted on the district's website, starting with the March 13 board meeting. To view a past meeting, visit http://www.upsd.org/Page/1929/.