In The Q


*** Your New School Board ***

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Board elects new leadership team, welcomes two new members

The Quakertown Community School Board voted in a new leadership team and welcomed two new members at its December 5th reorganization meeting.

The Board elected Kaylyn Mitchell president and Ron Jackson vice president. "I want to thank my colleagues for having confidence in me and voting for me as president and I look forward to serving our community," Mrs. Mitchell said. "And congratulations to Ron for vice president."

Brian Reimers and Chris Spear were sworn in as new Board members by Heidi Johnson, secretary to the superintendent. They replace former Board President Steaven Klein and Robert Diliberto, who did not seek re-election.

Mr. Reimers and Mr. Spear were elected to the Board in the November 5th Municipal Election, along with incumbents Mr. Jackson, Dwight Anderson and Jonathan Kern.

At the November 14th meeting, Mr. Anderson received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association for his eight years of service. Mr. Klein presented the certificate to him.

Please click here for photos and contact information of Board Members.

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Steaven Klein: 'Thank you for allowing me to serve'

At the start of the November meeting, outgoing School Board President Steaven Klein read a letter to the school community. Here is some of what he had to say:

"I wish to thank the community for allowing me to serve them in this capacity for nearly five years. I'd also like to thank the administration, teachers and support staff for showing me respect and kindness along the way. Your dedication and professionalism to our students and community are to be admired.

"I haven’t forgotten our students. Having had the chance to hand out diplomas at graduations and to talk with them when opportunities arose, it was by far the best part of being a School Board Director.

"To the other Board members – thank you for having entrusted me to be your President for these last two years. That truly meant a lot. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you all of you. I wish you all nothing but the best in the future.

"Being a School Board member was an amazing experience for me. One that I’ll always remember."


Directors set record straight on updated student debt policy

With the amount of student lunch debt skyrocketing from nearly $1,700 a year to what is on track to reach $40,000 this school year, the School Board updated Policy 617, Student Financial Obligations.

The policy, much of which had already been in effect, added an additional component that states: "Refer the delinquent financial debt obligation to a collection agency, when debts exceed $1,000."

The policy, which passed 7-2 on November 14th, includes any type of student debt. It states: "Financial obligations/debts include, but is not limited to, instances where a student accrues a debt to the school district through the loss or damage of school district property, materials, and/or equipment, and other financial obligations from receiving good or services. Students and others who damage or deface school property may be prosecuted and punished under the law. Parents/Guardians shall be held accountable for the actions of their child."

Lunch debt analysis chart

Impact of PA Act 55 on lunch debt

Please click here for the full story.


Quakertown Community Outreach offers help to parents in school lunch debt

Quakertown Community Outreach, a nonprofit organization, is offering assistance to families in the Quakertown Community School District who apply and are approved by QCO.

To apply, please click on the link below and fill out QCO's form.


Lawsuit filed against e-cigarette makers

In recent months, there hasn't been a Board meeting where Directors haven't heard about problems associated with student vaping. On November 1, the district filed a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, Inc., one week after the Board unanimously adopted a resolution to authorize the law firm of Begley Carlin & Mandio and Wagstaff & Cartmell to initiate litigation against companies that manufacture and market electronic-cigarettes and vaping products.

The media expressed interest in the leadership shown by the Board and District, and Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner was a sought-after speaker. Here are his interviews with CBS3, FOX29, Good Day Philadelphia, NBC10, WFMZ Channel 69.

For more information about vaping, please click here.


Board: No exceptions for 2020-21 budget

In a unanimous vote on October 24th, the Quakertown Community School Board passed a resolution to limit any potential tax increase for the 2020-21 fiscal year to the Act 1 index. For Quakertown, that number is 3 percent.

The decision means that the Board will not seek exceptions for items like special education, school construction and employee retirement to raise property taxes above 3 percent as next year’s budget is developed.

Please click here for the full story.


Board boosts pay for substitutes

On September 26, the School Board unanimously passed a measure to increase pay for substitute teachers, aides, and nurses.

“Hiring substitute teachers, aides and, nurses is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem across the schools,” said Zachary Schoch, the district's Chief Operating Officer. “It’s both a supply and demand issue. With a strong economy and low unemployment rate, there are fewer and fewer applicants interested in these positions. In addition, graduation rates in Pennsylvania teacher programs are down.”

Please click here for the full story.

Please click here for information on the January 20th Job Fair.


Doctor discusses the stigma of addiction

Dr. Gillian Beauchamp, a colleague of Board member Keith Micucci with the Lehigh Valley Health Network, gave a presentation to the Board on December 5th about the substance use disorder crisis.

Dr. Beauchamp, a medical toxicologist and emergency medicine physician, explained how reducing the stigma of addiction can be beneficial in the recovery process.

"We can start educating our youth right now about stigma, about the disease process to let them know there's access to resources," she said, "and they can access medical care. We’re not going to stigmatize individuals."

She said that process will encourage people to seek help. "Using language, changing how we talk about substance abuse conditions with our kids will change the next generation. I think we’ll see a turn in the tide of overdose deaths."

Mr. Micucci said it's important for physicians like Dr. Beauchamp "on the front line" to have support and people struggling with addiction to know there are access points "and they’re not a lost cause."

Please click here for the doctor's presentation at the 21-minute mark.


Dr. Kelly explains impact of childhood trauma in class

As part of the Superintendent's Goals this year placing an emphasis on mental health,

school psychologist Kevin Kelly gave a presentation to the Board on September 26 titled "Children Exposed To Trauma: Causes And The Building of Resilience."

Dr. Kelly and school psychologists developed the presentation and "It's been very well received by teachers at faculty meetings and professional development opportunities," said assistant superintendent Nancianne Edwards.

Dr. Kelly said he appreciated the district's initiative to place a focus on mental health as it will "affect children positively, both emotionally and behaviorally as well as academically, too."

Adverse childhood experiences, he said, will have a behavioral impact in school, and it's important for teachers to not take the behavior of these students personally as "there is a broader difficulty going on in the child's life. Give the student a chance to start fresh the next day.

"We have a great teaching staff here," Dr. Kelly said. "They're doing a great job with the curriculum. They have a lot of things on their plate ... we're just asking them to be mindful."

Please click here for Dr. Kelly's video presentation at the 1:23:10 mark.


Freshman recognized for art work in county expo

Jacob Lewis, a freshman at Quakertown Community High School, was recognized by the Board for having his work on display at the November 5th Bucks County Art Expo.

"I have been very impressed with Jacob's talent, and he was one of very few ninth graders that presented," said art teacher Laurie Christine. "I'm extremely proud of Jacob and the rest of our students who were represented."

Students who had their work displayed included Logan Asbury, Erin Berryann, Hannah Braun, Amira Chowdhury, Kaylyn D'Andrea, Sadie Diaz, Maddy Fisher, Carissa Gurganus, Sophia Inglis, Andrew Miller, Felix O'Donnell, Taylor Puccella, Hailey Rivera, Kenzie Sawadski, Danelle Seidel, and Heather Zhou.


Neidig students raise $ for American Cancer Society

Neidig Elementary School students Lorelai Keller, Alex Laco and Mia Musgrove were recognized by the Board for raising money during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

"I'm so proud of our Neidig leaders," Principal Scott Godshalk said. "They were respectfully relentless in inspiring greatness. They’re shining stars."

The students organized a PINK OUT day. They also sold PINK lemonade at Neidig’s Race for Education, and earned more than $60 for The American Cancer Society.


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Elementary teachers, principals explain 'Data-Driven Instruction'

The Board heard insightful presentations from teachers at Trumbauersville and Neidig elementary school as the administration wanted to illustrate the effective work being done in Quakertown Community School District classrooms.

Please click here for Trumbauersville's October 24th presentation.

Please click here for Neidig's November 14th presentation.

Steaven Klein told the Trumbauersville team their presentation "is one of the best I've seen here" and said "It's really wonderful what you guys are doing."

Kaylyn Mitchell, whose son attends Neidig, said she has "seen such a transformation in him. … He’s so excited about learning."

The Trumbauersville presenters, in the above photo, include Principal Adam Schmucker and teachers Elizabeth Haegele, Peggy Smith, Susan Sheef and Lauren Ziegler.

The Neidig presenters, in the photo below, include Principal Scott Godshalk and teachers Stacey DiCicco, Sarah Godshall, JoAnn Klee, Cristin Pizzi and Krissy Wainwright.

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Here's when the board meets

For Board meeting dates, please click here.

To view Board meeting videos, please click here.

Quakertown Community School District

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District.