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.
While some students spend hours after school mastering a sport or an art, the nine students on the 2016 Robotics Team at Liberty HS spend their time designing, building and programming award-winning mechanical robots.
The LHS Robotics Team recently won the Parkland Starstruck HS Division Qualifier, a tournament at Springhouse MS against 36 other high schools Jan. 7 sponsored by VEX Robotics. The win earned them a spot at VEX’s national competition April 6-8 in Council Bluffs, Iowa and they are working to raise the $6,000 needed to get them to the competition.
Every household in Bethlehem will now be able to get a unique look inside Bethlehem Area School District since the district began its own TV program on RCN, “BASD District Insider.” The program began airinf Feb. 2 on Thursday and Sunday evenings at 6 p.m. on channel 4.
“Not everyone accesses social media, but just about all of our constituents have cable TV,” Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy stated. “This is another avenue for us to share the good work going on in the district.”
The proposed and hotly debated state law, HB/SB 76 to eliminate school property taxes, would let large Bethlehem business off the hook in supporting education, school officials said at the finance committee meeting Jan. 17.
The preliminary budget for the 2017-18 school year reveals that the district’s expenditures exceed its anticipated revenue by $12.5 million. The district has already begun working to close the gap by June.
Business manager Stacey Gober told the story behind the numbers at the finance committee meeting Jan. 17, and it includes increases in employee pension contributions and charter school tuitions with incoming state subsidies remaining relatively flat-lined.
Board President Michael Faccinetto won the seat of president elect of the Pennsylvania School Board Association (PSBA). The election took place at PSBA’s annual leadership conference in Hershey, Oct. 13-15.
PSBA is a statewide nonprofit association of public school boards dedicated to promoting high quality public education by providing members with effective tools, training and advocacy. BASD joined the association roughly nine years ago.
It is estimated that BASD would receive an additional $400 million in new dollars this year on top of the guaranteed $350 million, thanks to Pennsylvania’s new Fair Funding Formula, adopted officially in June, 2016. Sandra Miller, circuit rider for PA schools, presented the outcomes of the new formula to the board of directors at their November monthly curriculum meeting at East Hills MS.
The school board’s unanimous vote to renew Lehigh Valley Academy’s charter Nov. 21 marks the first time the board has approved a charter for LVA since the school’s inception in 2002. It also marks the first time the board presented a charter agreement of its own for approval. The board is still awaiting LVA’s approval or rejection of the new charter.
Charter law grants districts in which charter schools are located the authority to evaluate and renew, or not renew, the school’s charter every five years.
The school board unanimously approved Lehigh Valley Academy (LVA)’s new charter Nov. 21 at East Hills MS, but must now wait to see if LVA accepts it as well.
The new charter dictates the school will cap enrollment of Bethlehem students at LVA at 90 per grade level beginning with next year’s incoming kindergarten class. This provision is projected to save the district over $1 million a year if approved by LVA and have no impact on the school’s operations.
Bethlehem Area School District has reaped over $9 million in energy savings to date since rolling out its master energy plan in 2011, according to BASD chief Facilities and Operations Officer Mark Stein. Stein, with BASD energy manager Sean McKenna and engineer Arif Fazil of D’Huy Engineering, Inc., presented this staggering figure during the energy plan update at the monthly facilities meeting Nov. 7 at East Hills MS.
So far, the $9 million in savings has come from a mere $675,000 investment over the past six years.