Remaining Notes from Jan. 11 B-W School Board Meeting
As a precautionary measure, the board is expected to apply for referendum exceptions to raise taxes. Also, online courses are discussed, and more.
Previous Stories for Jan. 11
The Baldwin-Whitehall School Board is expected to allow B-W School District officials to apply for referendum exceptions that will allow them to raise the district millage rate, without voter approval, more than 1.8 percent.
In other words, for the 2012-13 school year, without successfully applying for those exceptions, the B-W School Board could not raise taxes more than 1.8 percent unless it received a referendum, or public vote, of yes.
Acceptable referendum exceptions include school construction—including debt incurred prior to the effective date, and electoral debt—special education expenditures and retirement contributions.
The board will vote on Wednesday, Jan. 18, on whether or not to apply for the exceptions as part of a proposed 2012-13 budget that totals $62,433,227.
When that budget was first introduced by district Superintendent Dr. Lawrence C. Korchnak on Dec. 7, he described the proposed tax hike included therein as being a "worst-case scenario."
Korchnak said that, in light of economic uncertainty, approving a measure that would give the board the authority to raise taxes is necessary as a precautionary measure. In no way does the board approving the ability to raise taxes constitute an actual tax raise, Korchnak stressed.
"Most school districts are certainly going to the max, requesting with the exceptions, just to leave the doors open (for possibly raising taxes)," board President John B. Schmotzer said at a meeting on Wednesday night. "This is just so this district has the opportunity to look at every option possible.
"Are we going to go all the way to the top, including exceptions? Who knows? That all depends on how the budget and numbers come back. But, at least, our options are there for us."
Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to propose a state education budget for 2012-13 in February. Corbett's budget will have a great impact on what the B-W School Board ultimately decides to do with its own final budget.
Online Courses Hosted by Baldwin-Whitehall?
Before he retires at the end of June, Korchnak said that he hopes to present the option of hosting online courses in the district to the B-W School Board.
Right now, the B-W School District does not host online courses, and instead, assigns some students to other providers' online offerings.
"We're beginning to investigate the possibility of creating our own cyber options solely within Baldwin-Whitehall's school district. It'll take maybe three to four years, but we've already begun to look at some models.
"We want to pursue that and bring it to the board before the end of the (school) year—at least a proposal."
" ... As long as we create the curriculum, as long as we establish the rigor, then, they (enrolled students) would get a Baldwin-Whitehall diploma, not some diploma for being part of some school somewhere else."
Rep. Kortz Gives Cost-of-Living Raise to His School Districts
State Rep. William C. Kortz II, who represents part of Baldwin Borough, is donating $223.18 to the B-W School District. That amount is one-fifth of the raise that Kortz recently received for a cost-of-living adjustment.
Korchnak said that Kortz is doing this because of cuts made to the state's education budget.
Smart Board for BHS Language Classrooms?
Edward Lippl, the senior class representative to the B-W School Board, used his comments time at Wednesday night's board meeting to voice displeasure over a lack of "smart boards" in Baldwin High School language classrooms.
Smart boards allow teachers to use interactive learning tools not possible with traditional chalk and white boards.
Lippl said that, while he appreciates watching where money is spent, he was upset that classrooms at J.E. Harrison Middle School received smart boards before older students at the high school did.
Korchnak fielded Lippl's complaint, explaining that J.E. Harrison Middle teachers were able to convince district administrators that the smart boards would be used effectively while conducting lessons there.
Korchnak said that no Baldwin High teachers have made a similar argument successfully yet but that he would listen to their arguments.
Movin' on Up
District solicitor Ed Lawrence took a new seat on Wednesday night—moving from a table of district administrators to a head table between Korchnak and Schmotzer.