The BASD school board had an unusual but exciting item to discuss at the September finance committee meeting. Kindness Is Magic, a small nonprofit organization, has reached out to BASD after hearing about the current school lunch debt the district faces, and the students it impacts. Kindness has already established a successful track record with East Penn and Saucon Valley school districts, but is now moving on to the substantially larger Bethlehem schools.
The Bethlehem school board has heard the last update on the Nitschmann MS building replacement process.
Chief Facilities and Operation Officer Mark Stein addressed the board recently with great enthusiasm and took a moment to thank the design team, engineers and consultants who worked so hard on designing and constructing the new school.
With the school year closing, the June 25 school board meeting meant the Bethlehem Board of School Directors had the wearisome task of reviewing 20 pages of proposed retirements, resignations, reassignments, and nominations. Before taking time to place votes on the entire list, and to point out any objections, Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy mentioned the most notable of the changes in staffing.
As the school year ended, the BASD board of directors had one outstanding decision, dating all the way to late 2017, which had to be wrapped up. Since November, the board has known that it would need to approve the charter for the Lehigh Valley Charter HS for the Arts, which was set to expire June 30. The district conducted a full investigation of the charter school, and had only a few small recommendations to improve the curriculum and address educational needs.
As Bethlehem prepares to finish yet another school year, the school board and Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy took the opportunity to congratulate students and educators on a number of impressive successes. Nearly 45 minutes was spent at the May 21 meetig recognizing everyone’s accomplishments. The first groups of students recognized were those who auditioned for positions in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association festivals.
Two by two, the eighty smiling graduates of the Moravian Academy class of 2018 proceeded through the crowded athletic center and towards their future. The boys each wore a full suit with a red rose boutonniere, and the girls were breathtaking in all white, each carrying a single red rose. After the students entered, the faculty and trustees followed wearing the academic regalia of their respective alma mater, their graduation hoods forming a rainbow of color behind the graduates.
The Bethlehem school board has never been soft spoken on the tremendous financial burden associated with charter schools, and the April 30 budget workshop was no exception. BASD has been working for months to put together a comprehensive budget for the 2018-19 school year. The board took months to create a budget that assess cost saving initiatives, fairly balances education initiatives, building maintenance, increasing retirement costs, and charter school tuition.
As time continues to pass, the legacy of the Bethlehem Steel is still running strongly in the blood of many Lehigh Valley families. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the closing of the Bethlehem Steel coke works, one of the final pieces of Bethlehem Steel to meet its demise. Most Lehigh Valley residents that are baby boomers or generation X-ers either worked at the steel or have memories of their parents and grandparents working there.
The 2017-18 school year isn’t over yet, but the Bethlehem Area School Board is already starting the long process on creating a budget for next school year. The first step in the process was a budget workshop on back in late March. At this presentation, the district administrators announced their top three priorities for the 2018-19 school year: literacy, technology and student services/support.
Every year since 1985, high school students from around the country gather to compete in a challenge based science competition, Science Olympiad. The nationwide program has multiple levels, and the State of Pennsylvania has a large state competition every year. The 2018 competition was held at Kutztown University on March 15.