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Allentown School District denies Vitalistic Therapeutic Charter School's request to move

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 25 2012 11:00:09 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 26 2012 05:13:54 AM CDT
ASD

Allentown School District administration office

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The Vitalistic Therapeutic Charter School was dealt a defeat at the hands of the Allentown School District Board of Directors when its request to relocate its facility was voted down 7-2 during Thursday night’s meeting.

Voting for the approval were board members David Zimmerman and Joanne Jackson.

The charter school, which is under investigation for misusing taxpayer funds, sought approval to move its operations from 902 S. Fourth Avenue in Bethlehem to 111 Dewberry Avenue in Bethlehem, according to the resolution.

“This school is down and has been kicked around a bit,” Zimmerman said after his measure to approve the relocation was shot down. “I think it’s reprehensible the way different charter schools are treated.”

The “uncertainty of the lease agreement” dissuaded board member Julie Ambrose from approving the relocation, according to her brief remarks on the matter.

In what proved to be another vote of contention, the board named Kimberly Benner the district’s director of communications by a 6-3 vote at a salary of $87,897 a year.

Board president Robert Smith didn’t have a problem with the candidate or the importance of the position, but thought the salary was too lofty for a district mired in fiscal difficulties.

Jackson added that she “had difficulty with an individual creating an image” for the district, noting that any district should grow organically without cultivation.

“This is an extremely important position,” said Zimmerman, as to how the district’s perception to the public is effectively managed.

In other business Thursday night, the board honored outgoing state Representative Jennifer L. Mann of the 132nd District. The 14-year Democratic legislator was in attendance at the meeting and was lauded by Smith and Superintendent C. Russell Mayo for her contributions to public education, her wise counsel through budget season and community involvement. She is not seeking re-election.