In a seven-to-one vote May 15, Bethlehem Area School District directors passed the proposed final 2017-18 budget that includes one of the lowest tax increases in the district’s history, as well as some painful cuts to programming and staff positions.
The total budget of $271.8 million represents an overall 4.24 percent increase from the 2016-17 budget of $260.7 million, with primary cost drivers being salaries at $1.66 million, retirement contributions at $3.15 million and special initiatives focused around literacy at over $2 million.
The April 24 regular board meeting was decorated in appreciation for some exceptional students, faculty and staff of the Bethlehem Area School District community.
The directors first recognized seniors Gabriella Greenhoward from Freedom HS and Lexi Vega of Liberty HS, who were each awarded a full-tuition scholarship to Moravian College March 27. Greenhoward and Vega were selected out of 50 students who applied for the scholarship.
Bethlehem Area School District has a new core reading program for grades K-2 that better aligns with the district’s Reading by Grade 3 (RBG3) initiative, announced chief academic officer Dr. Jack Silva at the curriculum committee meeting May 8. Starting in 2017-18, “Wonders” by McGraw Hill will roll out across all 16 elementary schools.
RBG3 aims to make students proficient readers by the end of third grade by targeting their teachers with professional instruction on the science of learning to read and how to put theory to practice in the classroom.
The April 24 regular board meeting was decorated with appreciation for some exceptional students, faculty and staff of the Beethlehem Area Schoo lDistrict community.
The directors first recognized seniors Gabriella Greenhoward from Freedom HS and Lexi Vega of Liberty HS who were each awarded a full-tuition scholarship to Moravian College on March 27. Greenhoward and Vega were selected out of 50 students between who applied for the scholarship.
A miscalculation of the real estate market value of Northampton County is causing a momentary hiccup in the district budget approval process, reported directors at the finance committee meeting April 10.
School districts use real estate market values to determine tax rates for the current year, which impacts district budget calculations, explained Bethlehem Area School District Chief Financial Officer Stacy Gober. The State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) is responsible for determining the aggregate market value of taxable real estate property across Pennsylvania.
BASD elementary students are solving math problems that baffle most adults, thanks to a new partnership formed this year with Dr. Robert Sun, creator of the online program First in Math (FIM).
School directors recognized the profound academic and extracurricular achievements of several students from Liberty HS and Freedom HS at their monthly board meeting March 20 at East Hills MS.
Liberty HS senior and member of the broadcasting staff Sean Collins was recognized for creating a video documenting the Liberty HS Grenadier Band’s trip to Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii Nov. 20-26, 2016. The band was invited to perform as the honorary band in the Waikiki Holiday Parade, as well as the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
The directors are exploring possibilities for the two vacant land parcels located at the corner of Freemansburg Avenue and Farmersville Road. The district has owned the 15.45 acre lot since 1979 and has leased it as farmland for the past several years.
The ongoing growth in residential and commercial real estate over the last few years along the Freemansburg Avenue corridor has triggered the need to evaluate the property as an educational asset, explained BASD chief facilities and operations officer Mark Stein at the facilities committee meeting Mar. 5.
New data is showing marked improvement in students’ reading scores just since the beginning of this school year, when the literacy initiative, “Reading by the End of Grade 3,” (RBG3) took to the classroom. Assistant superintendent Dr. Jack Silva, supervisor of early learning, grants and development Dr. Jodi Frankelli, and supervisor of literacy Kimberly Harper presented the mid-year data to the board at the curriculum committee meeting Feb. 6.
Bethlehem Area Scholl Board members board approved the preliminary 2017-18 budget at a special board meeting Feb. 13. At this point, the district’s expenditures exceed its anticipated revenue for 2017-18 by $12.5 million, resulting from increased costs and lower state revenue.