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Confirmed: School Board Had No Notice of Willow Lane Meeting

East Penn School District says parents were notified about Nov. 27 'Walkability Study' meeting in a timely fashion. The district says it had no obligation to inform the board.

East Penn School District was criticized last week for what both Willow Lane parents and school board members have described as the administration’s failure to adequately publicize a Nov. 27 meeting to review the findings of a Willow Lane “Walkability Study.”

East Penn Community Liaison Nicole Bloise confirms the board was never notified about the Nov. 27 meeting, but she says that is pretty much standard operating procedure as far as "parent meetings" are concerned.

Some have said that even though school board members were not notified, the subject matter was important enough to mention it to them.

The study and subsequent Nov. 27 meeting are the latest steps on the winding path to walking school status for Willow Lane Elementary School – a status that has been in the school’s future right from its preconstruction days.

Even so, parents are generally opposed to the across-the-board elimination of busing at Willow Lane, saying that they fear for the safety of their children and citing concerns about things like the age of the traffic studies being used to shape school district decision-making and the lack of adequate signage around the school.

It was these concerns, coupled with what Willow Lane parents believe to be significant shortcomings of the walkability study, that led droves of parents to attend the Dec. 10 East Penn School Board meeting to convince board members it would be a bad idea to make Willow Lane a walking-only school next year.

Seventeen of these parents addressed the board for nearly an hour during the public comment portion of last week's meeting, adding their disappointment with the way the school district had gotten the word out about the Nov. 27 meeting to their laundry list of concerns.

At the end of Monday night’s meeting, board member Lynn Donches expressed her disappointment with the district’s failure to property publicize the meeting, calling the administration’s failure to notify the board about the meeting “disturbing” and stating that she would have been there had she known about it.

According to the district, meeting attendees included:

  • Dr. Thomas P. Mirabella, East Penn Director of Student Services
  • Dr. Anthony Moyer, Willow Lane Principal
  • Engineer: John Farnoly of Pennoni Associates Inc., Mechanicsburg
  • Lynn Glancy, East Penn Director of Operations
  • State Police Representative
  • Two Lower Macungie Township Representatives

Bloise expanded on the notification issue.

"This was a parent meeting and the board is not notified of all parents meetings such as PTO meetings, PTC Meetings, etc.," Bloise wrote in an email to Patch. "The board was given a copy of the study before it was posted on the district website in mid-October and Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger has not received questions from any of the board members regarding the study," Bloise said.

Willow Lane parents were informed about the meeting Nov. 14 via “EduLink,” the district’s automated emergency calling system. The system, formerly known as AlertNow, informs parents of important information such as school closings. The message about the meeting, recorded by Moyer, went out to all Willow Lane parents.

for real December 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM
It's interesting that Lynn Donches has become the champion of the Willow Parents. If it was up to her and her allies would not have completed a Willow Lane transportation study because it came from a grant and she is 100% opposed to the school district using grants: Lynn Donches, 559 Minor Street, Emmaus spoke against accepting grant money. She said grants are not free money but taxpayers money. School board minutes 2/14/2011
Giovanni Landi December 17, 2012 at 02:40 PM
For real - I missed the press release, announcing you were appointed the spokesperson for Lynn Donches and "her allies". You must be if you can speak for what they would or would not support right? Since you are so good at reviewing meeting minutes maybe you should check which board members have been the advocates for student safety and which have been nothing but a rubber stamp for the administration. From what I remember Lynn Donches and "her allies" were advocating for student safety from the start. In fact Julian Stoltz tried to get the funding for bussing reinstated but was blocked. Just a heads up, people are starting to see through the non-factual smear tactics.
Ron Beitler December 17, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I agree with Julian some of the time and appreciate he and Lynn Donches fiscal watchdog role. Every board needs one. However I'm a little disappointed in putting 60k back on the table. It's not just the 60k but the cumulative in savings for the taxpayers of ALL the walking schools (Alburtis, Lincoln, Jefferson, Willow). Quarter of a million each year combined? Why double standard for Willow vs. Borough schools. Disappointed by that. The decision to make Willow walking was made years ago. It was built with that intention. That being said there are issues that MUST be addressed to ensure routes are safe. I feel as though the township has dragged it's feet. I "heard" there has been money allocated since the last Public Safety commission meeting. At the previous meeting I asked whose is paying for what and didnt really get clear answers. What needs to happen soon is budgets shown and implementation plans finalized. The clock is ticking and safety is the priority. FYI here are some enhanced safety features I hope to be considered (I've emailed to public safety chair) by the township and the EPSD to ensure the routes are safe. The study outlined a baseline in my opinion. Min acceptable changes. These are going above and beyond. Nothing crazy all examples are implemented locally in other communities. None of these suggestions are prohibitively expensive. http://lowermacungie.patch.com/blog_posts/suggested-features-for-a-walkable-willow-lane-elementary-school-zone
Giovanni Landi December 17, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Ron – I agree with your statement about the double standard, but I think putting the funds for bussing back was the right thing to do because it was obvious that a safe plan had not been produced. It seems ridiculous that a school designed as a walking school would not have these plans in place from the start. While being fiscally responsible is important, it can't come at the expense of child safety or jeopardize education.
Ron Beitler December 17, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I 100% agree that its mind boggling we're here how many years after Willow came online.... and we're still figuring out how to make this corridor safer. I don't get how that happened. What I hope is asked at the next LMT Public Safety and BOC meeting is... Show me the budget. Show me the plan. Show me the calendar for implementation. Tell me what the district is paying for (on campus improvements) and tell me what the township is paying for. I've heard there's 89,000 available from the township. I will be encouraging them consider the enhanced safety features I am advocating for. Signage and line painting are minimal costs. I think the stalker board attached to 15mph flashing light is Critical. This is utilized in communities all over. I think raised pedestrians crosswalks on campus are critical again utilized all over. And LED lighted crosswalks should absolutely be considered at Willow and Saurkraut. I use the crosswalk in Macungie frequently and it works. Lighted LED crosswalk at willow and Saurkraut + crossing guards before and after school and you have a very very safe intersection.
for real December 17, 2012 at 08:42 PM
By smear tactics I'm sure you are referring to this idea that kids are being tossed out into an unsafe walking enviornment when a study backed by the PA state police clearly indicates that all 3 walking routes right now score 26/30 (good for walking). And of course ignoring the fact that improvements are in the works which would push that score higher. Let's not mention that since it doesn't help some folks get elected. People are perhaps emotional at the moment which brings about a wedge opportunity right? Speaking of which, how is your campaign shaping up?
Giovanni Landi December 17, 2012 at 09:14 PM
No. By smear tactics I'm referring to your claim that Lynn Donches and "her allies" would not have completed a Willow Lane transportation study. Also, your attempt to make it seem as if she is only now speaking up for the parents and students of Willow Lane when in fact it was Lynn Donches and "her allies" that originally opposed these cuts in the budget. I'm not ignoring facts, I'm listening to the Willow Lane parent's concerns. I try to help people when I can so that if I need help they will be there for me. We are a community, we need to work together and look out for each other. Not just try to provide cover for the administration like you and "your allies". As for my campaign, I haven't given it much thought yet. However the more comments I read like yours the more I lean towards running. Why do you ask? Would you like to make a donation?
for real December 17, 2012 at 09:31 PM
The study was via a grant. I'm pointing out the fact that she opposes use of grants so the study would not have been performed at all if the board was dominated by such a philosophy. A bunch of things that transpire via grants would not be utilized. That is not a smear. I think all of the directors and administration care about safety including Mrs. Donches. I think they care about the Willow students and the studetns at the other 3 elementary schools in the district that are not transported up to a mile and a half away. It's also fair to say that I think this board is far to polticized. Seems like a lot of that is going on. I thought the same of the book issue. I found out it's just a matter of filing form. Sure didn't go down that way though did it? Yeah I might make a donation when the time comes. Best of luck.
LoMac Res December 18, 2012 at 02:24 AM
I challenge anyone who thinks the Willow / Sauerkraut intersection can be made safe for crossing children without a traffic light, to negotiate it on foot during school morning time, or evening rush, especially in the dark. All it takes is a bit of common sense to know that Willow / Sauerkraut, and the Willow lane bridge over the Little Lehigh for that matter, are completely unsafe for grade school walkers in their present states, and both are in need of very significant upgrades to get there.
Ron Beitler December 18, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Agree with willow lane bridge. And willow Ln in general from lower mac/willow intersection down past restaurant across river to the curves. That whole section is dangerous. I'm pretty positive that no students would have to walk across the bridge along that stretch to willow elementary. Correct me if I'm wrong. If so that's a concern. I have to disagree with the traffic light. Traffic signal there would create a drag strip mentality while a 4 way stop slows down everything. Yes there are idiots out there who run the signs... But people also run red lights. Difference is when people run 4 way stop or goes out of turn its typically slower speed fender bender. When People run traffic signals to beat a red light or straight up miss it... the crashes are catastrophic. You def need traffic lights on high volume roads. But willow lane isn't a high volume rd except for maybe 2 hours a day.
Ron Beitler December 18, 2012 at 03:27 AM
All way stop vs. Traffic light. All way stop Equal priority for all approaches Vehicles enter the intersection at a low speed and have more time to take heed of the traffic situation (pedestrians) Provides traffic calming benefits reduces overall speed Low-speed crossing point for pedestrians. Less delay time in lower volume (Like Willow Lane) Traffic Light Cause unnecessary delays during low volume Accidents at signals occur at higher speeds, severity of accidents is higher Creates a "Drag strip" affect and average higher speeds along a corridor.

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