Guidelines Revision for Board Vacancies and Other Notes from April 4 B-W School Board Mtg.
A special budget meeting is announced, school spirit apparel, AP tests, graduation speakers, bus concerns, and other items.
B-W Student Reps Revisit 'Disgusting' Hall Passes Issue
School Leaders Consider Revising Guidelines for Filling Board Seats
There are policies, and then, there are guidelines.
Members of the Baldwin-Whitehall School Board are required to abide by policies that either they or past board members set for the B-W School District, but guidelines are another story—merely suggestions for board members for how to operate in particular situations.
Either way, board members must approve policies and guidelines alike before they are put into practice.
And one set of guidelines that board members are considering for adoption this April lays out suggestions for filling vacant board seats. The guidelines being considered—available here on the school district website and in this article's media gallery above—differ from how the B-W School Board filled its latest vacancy in January, when Nancy Sciulli DiNardo filled a seat vacated by her husband, Sam, without being subjected to a public interview process.
The new guidelines being considered in Baldwin-Whitehall now call for all candidates for vacant board seats to be interviewed publicly and to be subjected to a uniform set of interview questions.
That was not the case with Sciulli DiNardo, as board President John B. Schmotzer directed his fellow board members not to interview candidates in her case but only to review them personally and to discuss them only once in public, just before Sciulli DiNardo's appointment was made.
The board has the power to follow its guidelines or not to follow them. Nevertheless, for what they're worth, the board must approve guidelines before they go into effect.
"They are just what they are called (guidelines)," district solicitor Ed Lawrence said. "They're put out by the administration to regulate themselves."
Added Schmotzer, "The board can actually do what the majority wants to do. The board has options at their discretion."
Special Budget Meeting
The B-W School Board will hold a public meeting at the district office on Wednesday, April 25, at 6 p.m. to discuss the district's 2012-13 budget and its five-year capital improvement plan.
Why No Senior Class President at Graduation?
Edward Lippl, Baldwin-Whitehall's senior class representative to the school board, asked district administration why the senior class president of Baldwin High School has not been invited to speak at the school's 2012 graduation ceremonies.
Building principal Kevin O'Toole said that this was due to his misunderstanding of precedent and protocol. O'Toole apologized and said that he will invite the class president to speak.
Should District Pay for Students' AP Tests?
On Wednesday, school board member George L. Pry addressed Lippl's request made during a March 7 school board meeting that district administration figure out a way to cover the cost of students' entrance exams for the school's Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
"I've been thinking on that topic ... and what is the right thing to do for the taxpayer," Pry said. "I think you will find it very rare that school districts pay for these exams. I would like to see something done for those (students) who have an economic disadvantage, but I do not believe that the taxpayer should routinely pay for these exams.
"This is one where it goes to a select group of students. In light of where we are economically, in light of some of the decisions that we will have (to face) maybe not this year but next year, this is not a cheap fix.
"I'm uncomfortable with putting this burden on the taxpayer. I'd like to find another solution."
School Spirit Apparel
The B-W School Board will vote later this month on whether or not to accept a proposal made by Pel Industries, Inc., that would allow Pel Industries to sell merchandise bearing B-W School District logos. A portion of the revenue generated by the sales thereof would be returned to the district.
If approved by the board, the agreement would last for one year before the board would have to decide whether or not to renew the agreement.
William D. McKain, the school district's assistant to the superintendent for finance and operations, said that the Woodland Hills School District brought in about $1,000 during its first year of a similar agreement with Pel.
McKain said that that amount of revenue could increase in succeeding years as Pel's marketing practices mature. He also said the agreement would come at no expense to Baldwin-Whitehall.
School board member Nancy Lee Crowder was apprehensive, though, arguing that an agreement that would put Baldwin-Whitehall merchandise into local stores would hamper booster groups fundraising efforts.
"These groups are really gonna have a hard time and struggle selling anything," Crowder said.
Asked Schmotzer, "Is it worth $1,000 to jeopardize (those groups)?"
Board member Kevin J. Fischer argued that an agreement with Pel would be low-risk.
"It isn't hurting anything at this point," Fischer said. "If it helps, if it grows, it may be beneficial."
Joked Pry, "I'd sell my soul quickly, but it has to be a higher number (than $1,000)."
District resident Lora J. Kalwarski, of 1286 Varner Rd. in Whitehall Borough and formerly a B-W School Board candidate, used citizen comments time at Wednesday's meeting to complain that a bus of district students did not reach J.E. Harrison Middle School on time for its opening bell on Tuesday.
Kalwarski said that that particular bus did not reach J.E. Harrison until 8:30 a.m.—10 minutes past the start of the first period there.
Kalwarski blamed the bus' tardiness on a lack of sufficient staffing within the district's Transportation department. (Baldwin-Whitehall Council of PTA member Jerry Pantone expressed a similar complaint on March 28.)
"I don't understand why, as a taxpayer," Kalwarski said, "that I have to worry that my daughter cannot get to school on time.
"We are going on three years of this issue. (I hear that) we don't have enough people. That doesn't sit very well with me."
Reminder: No Classes
'Dancing with the Teachers'
B-W's 2012 installment of "Dancing with the Teachers" will be held at the Baldwin High auditorium on Saturday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m.
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