Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
PRESS PHOTOS BY THERESA O’BRIENBoard member Tom Thomasik poses a question about the Broughal MS Comprehensive Improvement Plan. BASD is applying for $545,000 in funding from the state for curriculum, assessment and professional development. PRESS PHOTOS BY THERESA O’BRIENBoard member Tom Thomasik poses a question about the Broughal MS Comprehensive Improvement Plan. BASD is applying for $545,000 in funding from the state for curriculum, assessment and professional development.
Local resident Stephen Antalics asks about potential features of a district-wide visitor management system. The visitor management system is part of the school safety improvements overseen by Todd Repsher. Local resident Stephen Antalics asks about potential features of a district-wide visitor management system. The visitor management system is part of the school safety improvements overseen by Todd Repsher.

Broughal proposal unveiled

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 by Theresa O’Brien Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Title 1 plan targets negative behaviors

Several BASD plans for 2019-20, including a major initiative at Broughal MS, were unveiled at two sparsely attended committee meetings.

The plan includes an allocation of $545,000 in Title I (federal) funds to provide professional development for Broughal teachers, create a “social and emotional learning curriculum” to reduce the incidence of negative classroom behaviors, and procure enhanced assessment tools from Acadience and IXL. These assessment tools will help faculty better diagnose students’ areas of strength and weakness, and appropriately tailor instruction. The board will vote June 24 on a recommendation to submit the plan to the Pa. Department of Education.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jack Silva framed the plan as an opportunity for Broughal and for the entire district, similar to the Title I improvement plan initiated at Lincoln ES five years ago that inspired the district-wide “Reading by Grade Three” strategic initiative. Broughal principal Rick Amato explained that some pedagogical changes will involve “understanding how we can improve literacy across all content areas,” not only in English Language Arts (ELA). In response to Tom Thomasik’s question about funding to support parent and grandparent involvement, Principal Amato explained that this plan coincides with another Title I grant that includes “a large component” of parent involvement.

Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy provided an update on strategic communications initiatives, and Dr. Silva gave an update on educational programs. New communications with district taxpayers and school families include informational materials to be enclosed with tax bills, a district public-access cable channel managed by district teacher Thomas Braun, and a mobile marketing app. New and enhanced educational programs include elementary Spanish instruction, available for the first time this past academic year, and digital literacy, which combines library science and computer skills. Dr. Silva also expounded on the progress made in aligning high school classes into career pathways, including biomedicine, education and engineering.

In addition to the Broughal MS plan, the board will vote on nine curriculum items on June 24: the purchase of $60,000 worth of new AP calculus textbooks for Freedom HS and Liberty HS; a single-year site license for Hoonuit professional development software at a cost of roughly $54,000; the initiation of a professional development tracking system from Frontline Education at a cost of roughly $62,000; grant applications for Marvine Family Center, Pre-K Counts, Safe Schools Initiative, and State Systematic Improvement Plan; and contracts with the DaVinci Science Center and Mad Science of the Lehigh Valley for summer school programming. All district expenditures mentioned are already included in the tentative final budget for 2019-20; both summer school enhancements are fully funded through United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and Title I. A sample of the new calculus textbook, which comes with supplementary digital materials, is available for review at the Education Center at 1516 Sycamore St.

At the facilities committee meeting, Chief Facilities & Operations Officer Mark Stein notified the committee that the recently executed “rate lock” on natural gas will save the district a projected $26,000 next year. He confirmed that the stadium renewal, Liberty Commons roof repair, and Clearview boiler replacement summer projects are proceeding on schedule. HVAC building surveys for a future renovation will begin next week.

Todd Repsher, coordinator of school safety and emergency management, reviewed some of his deliverables for the past academic year, including the rewriting of the BASD weapons policy to clarify that it applies to all school personnel, the review and revision of the district’s visitor policy, the drafting of a “Safe 2 Say Something” (S2SS) policy in accordance with state mandates, and the implementation of the district’s policy for responding to students’ reports of safety concerns. BASD received roughly 218 tips since implementing the S2SS system, with reports of bullying and self-harm as the two largest categories. Projects for next year include training in “Therapeutic Aggression Control Techniques” (TACT2) and adoption of a unified visitor management system. All school safety activities fall under the Act 44 state mandate.

An audience member asked whether the visitor management system will include an instant background check. Dr. Roy responded that he would need to be convinced by data that such a feature – which is available from some vendors – would reduce the likelihood of a threat to school safety. He noted that some parents may have convictions in their background, and suggested that background checks for all visitors would discourage parents from making school visits.

The board will vote June 24 on a renewal of the district’s contract with A. J. Trunzo, Inc., for excavation work, and the appointment of 422 Sales to auction off surplus school buses and other vehicles. Trunzo was the only vendor to submit a bid for excavation, and 422 Sales conducted the district’s most recent bus auction, in 2017.