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.
The relationship between homeowners and local school districts is subject to many variables. The better the schools, the more desirable real estate can become. The wealthier the neighborhoods, the more revenue the district can receive. But the gray area in between, where most middle class homeowners live, is a constant balance of the financial stability of both parties.
It’s a scenario that nobody wants to experience, but everyone wants to be prepared for: an armed gunman entering a school with the intent to inflict harm. But after reaching out to students and parents alike, Bethlehem Area School District realized, that it’s no longer a silent taboo, but an important topic to discuss precautions and appropriate responses, so that student’s know their educators can also step into the role of protectors in a heartbeat.
The April 16 Bethlehem Area School District committee meetings started promptly at 6 p.m. with a slightly different approach than normal meetings.
Board members turned their focus to the big screen and together with the audience watched the first 25 minutes of the recent PBS39 special, Future Chefs. The Future Chefs competition is a nationwide program sponsored by food preparation company Sodexo.
Numerous technological advances were on the agenda at a recent BASD school board meeting. The board voted to approve a new online registration system designed by SRC solutions in Center Valley. This new system would simplify both new student registration as well as back to school student update forms.
The software currently supports English and Spanish, but the developer is working to render other languages common in the district, including Arabic and more.
Two important proposals came before the BASD finance committee at the March 12 meeting. The first was a funding increase request in the budget presentation by Colonial Intermediate Unit 20. The CIU serves Bethlehem and numerous other districts in Northampton, Monroe and Pike counties, making it the eighth largest CIU in the state. The CIU is tasked with balancing 45 different budgets and dozens of services for each participating district.
This year, 600 high school students from around the country submitted essays on the importance of cancer research, and how science can find a cure for cancer. It was with great joy that BASD Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy announced that Liberty HS student Katie Neary was selected as one of the 100 student winners. Katie, along with Liberty Principal Harrison Bailey III and Assistant Principal Amanda Hinkel, appeared at the March 19 school board meeting, to receive praise from the board and audience alike for her outstanding accomplishment.
It is no secret that BASD has been very focused on improving reading skills throughout the district, with programs such as Reading by third grade, and new Spanish literacy initiatives. So it was with great pleasure that Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Dr. Jack Silva addressed the curriculum committee March 5 with an update on elementary math skills, and the numbers are encouraging.
Bethlehem was well represented at the Future Business Leaders of America competition this year by students from both Freedom and Liberty high schools.
Members of the school board took a moment at the beginning of the Feb. 26 meeting to recognize the students and their great success. Subjects ranged from Public Speaking and Business Communication to Securities and Investments and Cyber Security. Of the 20 BASD students who placed at the regional competition, 10 were selected to continue on to the state conference in Hershey in April.