Author: Katie Kohler

Passionate arguments precede Harbert vote

By KatieKohler On Saturday morning during a special voting meeting of the Board of Directors of the William Penn School District, Jane Harbert was appointed superintendent by a 6-3 vote. Harbert, who was the interim superintendent, will serve a term through June 30, 2020 at a salary of $167,000. The meeting was scheduled after last Monday night’s regular meeting yielded no motion or second to appoint Harbert, an action required to pass. Both meetings, however, drew the largest-in-recent-memory capacity crowds. Parents of the school district, even those offering no support or dissent of Harbert, were impassioned about the...

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Sensory Checkout Applauded: Area stores hear Mom’s plea

By KatieKohler The ShopRite in Brookhaven is a grocery shopper’s delight. The store is clean, bright, and spacious with the make-you-hungry smells wafting from the bakery and prepared foods. Manager Paul Kourtis has been in the grocery business for 19 years and knows the importance of aesthetics. He also knows none of it matters if the customer has a poor experience, especially at check-out., which is why, when he overheard his fiancé talking about her friend, Kristin Jackowski’s issue at checkout at Target with her daughter and her subsequent petition, he thought, “What’s the big deal?” Consider Kourtis...

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Spirit exclusive: School leader vote set for Saturday

By KatieKohler One of the largest crowds in recent memory packed the board meeting of the William Penn School District on Monday with many there to give input before the scheduled vote to appoint Jane Harbert as superintendent of schools. She is currently acting superintendent. The over two-hour meeting provided fireworks but no finality as the motion to appoint Harbert failed for lack of a second and no voting occurred. Harbert’s appointment will now be considered at a special meeting on Saturday, Jan. 28th at 9 a.m. at the Administration Building, 100 Green Ave., Lansdowne. The William Penn School Board appointed Harbert to the interim position at an August 2015 meeting after Joe Bruni announced his retirement after 29 non-consecutive years with the district. Harbert’s contract was approved by the board Feb. 22, 2016. According to Solicitor David Conn, the acting superintendent’s contract by law can go no longer than one year. Harbert’s contract expires Feb. 28th. There could be another acting superintendent but it could not be Harbert. “It is my legal counsel to get this done as soon as possible. You certainly want a superintendent in place by March 1st,” said Conn. If appointed, Harbert would serve a term commencing March 1, 2017 through June 30th, 2020 at a salary of $167,000. Board President Jennifer Hoff brought the topic to the top of the agenda and opened...

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Infant mortality a growing issue in Delco

Infant mortality in Delaware County increased from 7.4 to 9.6 per 1,000 births from 2008 to 2013. It disproportionally impacts Black babies with over triple the infant mortality rates. A major contributing factor is the under-utilization of prenatal care supports among Black mothers. Data from the Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) Wellness Index shows that in 2014, 43 percent of Black women started prenatal care in the first trimester, compared to 72 percent of white women. Mothers who receive late (defined as beginning in the third trimester of pregnancy) or no prenatal care, are more likely to have babies with health problems. The U.S. ranks 56th in the world for infant mortality with 6.1 deaths per 1,000 births; Delaware County is above Pennsylvania’s rate of 6.7 with 9.6 deaths per 1,000 births. The data was gathered from the Pennsylvania Department of Health accounting for every live birth and every death from 2008 to 2012. Infant mortality is defined as the death of a baby before his or her first birthday. This rate is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a nation, because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also impact the mortality rate of infants. “How kids come into this world, what their health status is, if we are not able to sustain their life, I think it’s a...

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People pray for the lost and GPSAR comes to the rescue

As the chief of Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue (GPSAR), you’d think Mark Hopkins would be easy to find. He’s not. The location of his office wasn’t discovered until a lost reporter made three loops around the suburban property. It is almost happened upon, when a cluster of vehicles and the small sign on the brick building is noticed. But one door is locked. The other opens to a stairwell where the options are up or down. Following where it appears to be lit, down the steps to a seemingly empty hallway where you make a quick left and...

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