FRANCONIA — COVID-19 changed the way it was done this year, but the January 28 Souderton Area School Board meeting still included a celebration of School Director Recognition Month. 

"I can't be more pleased to work with such a fine group of individuals who do this for free," said Superintendent Frank Gallagher.

School board members do not receive a salary for the elected position. 

"I'm very lucky as a superintendent to work with such a fine group of people. We may not always agree, but in the end we have one thing in common," Gallagher said. "We want what's best for the children of this community and their education and you all bring such unique skill sets to the table from your background."

He thanked the board members for the time, dedication, commitment and passion they put into the position and said each was being given cookies that were made that morning in the high school cafeteria.

"People don't realize what a school board member has to go through, and especially during times of crisis," Gallagher said.

"I hope we continue the good work we do together," he said. "There will always be challenges, but together we will get through them."

Board President Ken Keith thanked Gallagher for the cookies and the recognition.

"Fellow board members, if you don't mind, I believe I can speak on your behalf. I think we're humbled to serve, we're grateful to serve, and we're happy to serve," Keith said.

In other matters at the meeting: 

• The board approved a three year contract with the Souderton Area Administrative Assistants' Association, running from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023. 

"This has been a long time in the making because we were in the process of beginning this when the Covid hit and other things got in the way," Gallagher said. 

He said it's a telling sign that the two sides could work out an agreement during the trying times.

"It is a sign that labor peace can happen in the most challenging times," he said. 

The 43 members of the SAAAA, who have been working since July without a new contract, receive a small pay increase in the first year of the contract and more significant raises in the second and third years, Assistant Superintendent and Director of Human Resources Christopher Hey said following the meeting. The increases are not a flat percentage rate, he said.

• A $21,000 donation to the Food Service Department was accepted. 

"Whoever you are out there, I just wanted to personally thank our anonymous donor for his or her donation to the Food Services account. Certainly that will help a number of students throughout our district," board Vice-president Donna Scheuren said.

• Gallagher said charter school tuition funding formula reform legislation is expected to be introduced soon in the state government.

Cyber education programs by school districts in the past year have proven that cyber education can be done at less cost than school districts have to pay for charter cyber school students, he said. Funding reform is also needed for brick and mortar charter schools, particularly in the funding for special education students, he said. 

Gallagher said he will continue updating the board at each meeting on the efforts to reform charter school funding.      

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