Daniel Garcia, who was promoted to assistant principal (AP) at Donegan ES one year ago, was named principal at Lincoln ES at the June 22 BASD school board meeting. Garcia replaces the popular Benita Draper, who is the district’s new head of early learning programs. The board also approved Julissa Jimenez as the new AP at Donegan, filling the position vacated by Garcia. All members except Mike Faccinetto were present; all motions passed 8–0.
BASD voted to approve (7-0) a nearly $302 million budget at a special meeting June 15. The budget does not include an increase in the tax rates for Northampton County or Lehigh County, instead using $2 million from the district’s fund balance to meet the shortfall between revenue and expenditures. This is the second consecutive year that BASD has passed a zero-percentage-increase budget. Seven of nine board members (all but Winston Alozie and Craig Neiman) were present at the meeting via Zoom.
Knowing what is open or closed, as well as what restrictions apply, has been a challenge for the past 10 weeks. Beginning at 8 p.m. March 25, Northampton and Lehigh counties have been under a “stay at home” order. For people of faith – who might have expected First Amendment protections to afford houses of worship at least the same level of openness as grocery stores – the situation has an additional layer of frustration and confusion.
With Northampton and Lehigh counties now in Governor Tom Wolf’s Yellow, childcare facilities are allowed to open if they can comply with Department of Human Services (DHS) guidance. Pa. is not issuing its own guidance for daycare centers; rather, the state expects childcare facilities to operate according to CDC advice (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/gu...). This is true for all daycare facilities, including home-based daycares, pre-K programs at schools, and Head Start programs.
The school board heard some good budget news from Chief Financial Officer Stacy Gober June 8, as well as having a sobering discussion on the use of School Resource Officers (SROs), a particularly relevant issue in light of the recent killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by police officers.
On June 3, the Pa. Dept. of Education (PDE) released its preliminary guidance for reopening K–12 schools for instruction as of July 1. PDE plans to provide additional information at the end of June, but local administrators are already working to incorporate the state’s guidance into their ongoing planning efforts.
On May 21, BASD TV aired a “virtually live” program to celebrate the academic achievement of the top 10 students at Freedom and Liberty high schools. Viewers tuned in to Channel 67 on RCN, Channel 265 on Service Electric, or BASDschools.org to see which students finished on top and where they plan to matriculate in the fall. In previous years, this event was called “Academic Signing Day,” similar to athletic signing days held at many schools, and involved a luncheon for the honorees.
Prior to the coronavirus, when people talked about the issue of food insecurity, it was often a case of a family earning too much to qualify for benefits, but not enough to put sufficient food on the table. Now, many local families are facing the additional challenge of not being able to enter a grocery store because they don’t have the mask that every Pennsylvania supermarket requires.
Retirements from the school district are not unusual at the end of an academic year, but it’s not often that two leaders retire at the same time. Kathleen Halkins, RN, BSN, who has served BASD for 32 years, is leaving her role as Supervisor of Health Services for the district. Cleo Millheim, M.Ed., Supervisor of Child Care at BASD, is retiring after 25 years in the role.
BASD unanimously adopted its proposed budget May 11 in a session accessible to the public via Zoom. Seven board members (all but Winston Alozie and Craig Neiman) were present. Projected expenditures for 2020-21 are $301,787,268, and expected revenues are $295,125,047. The district has two options (or some combination thereof) to make up the shortfall of $6,662,221: raising taxes and dipping into its fund balance.