The greater part of Monday night’s East Penn Board of School Directors meeting was all about Willow Lane Elementary School and the busing of its students.
It began with a public comment period during which several parents of Willow Lane children addressed the board with reasons that Willow Lane should not become a walking school with the start of the 2013-2014 school year.
After that, Superintendent Thomas L. Seidenberger shared the findings of an excrutiatingly detailed transportation study, designed to shed light on many transportation concerns in the district, including next steps at Willow Lane.
All of that led up to debate on a motion by School Director Julian Stolz to retain busing in the 2013-2014 school year for those Willow Lane students being bused this year.
Dissention followed when board president Charles Ballard didn’t pull any punches in explaining why he would be voting against Stolz’s motion:
“First of all, I find the concept of attempting, before we have enough information to direct the administration to do something of this nature, premature and unwise.
“I find it highly offensive personally that the person declaring to be conservatively principled is willing to throw those principles under the bus and support a motion to spend money for a very small group without having all of the facts in place to determine those expenditures to be warranted or wise.
“The information provided in the transportation study provides different options that should be considered. This is nothing more than a pandering attempt to obtain votes that should not have been countenanced by a sitting school board member,” he said.
Stolz immediately shot back sharp words of his own, declaring it his right to do so because of the “personal nature of the comments” made by Ballard.
“I find it interesting that the very people who use children for political gain are willing to throw them quite literally under the bus,” he said. “I am a conservative, but I am willing to stop and look at what we are doing and make sure that when we do it, we do it right and not simply rubber-stamping the administration’s agenda.”
School directors Francee Fuller and Kenneth Bacher both said that they would like to see Stolz’s motion tabled until they had time to review the administration’s transportation study and its recommendations.
Bacher said: “I don’t like the idea of singling out parts of our population for special treatment. If I were to vote for such a proposal, I’d like to see that it be phrased in a way that applies to all of our students, not just Willow Lane.”
The motion was ultimately defeated by a 6-3 vote with directors Stolz, Lynn Donches and Michael Policano voting in favor of Stolz’s motion.