Staff Cuts, Furloughs Help Baldwin-Whitehall Balance its Budget
Some teaching and other staff positions will be eliminated for 2012-13.
But proposal rejections by the school board were still rare on Wednesday, as the board also approved the elimination of several teaching and other staff positions in Baldwin-Whitehall in order to balance its 2012-13 budget.
Gone for 2012-13 are the positions of director of pupil services, assistant transportation manager and technology department technician. And the employees assigned to those positions—Virginia Deasy, David Sparrow and Paul Huwalt, respectively—have each been furloughed.
Also eliminated were one English, science and social studies teacher at J.E. Harrison Middle School; the half-time equivalent of a district-wide nursing position; 1.5 full-time equivalents of custodial positions at Baldwin High School, one full-time equivalent of custodial positions at J.E. Harrison Middle; 0.5 full-time equivalents of custodial positions at McAnnulty Elementary School; one full-time equivalent of custodial positions at W.R. Paynter Elementary School; 0.75 full-time equivalents of custodial positions at Whitehall Elementary School; one full-time equivalent of custodial positions at the Wallace Building; and a secretarial position at Baldwin High.
Those cuts will cause more employees to be furloughed. The exact individuals to meet that fate will be in accordance with the district's collective bargaining agreements.
The board did reject a proposal to eliminate one district-wide maintenance position, meaning that that position will be kept.
None of Wednesday's decisions came easy for the board, which twice went into closed, executive sessions that night—the first for 48 minutes and the other for 10.
The pupil services position was cut by a 7-2 vote with board members Diana Kazour and Ray Rosing voting 'no.' The transportation position was cut by a 6-3 vote with Kazour, Tracy Macek and Larry Pantuso voting 'no.' And the technology position was cut by a 7-2 vote with Kazour and Macek opposed.
An item combining the teaching and nursing cuts and another item regarding the secretarial cut were both approved by 9-0 votes, but votes for custodial and maintenance cuts were split—7-2 in favor of custodial cuts and 6-3 against the maintenance cut.
Kazour and Pantuso voted against both the custodial and maintenance cuts. They were joined in keeping the maintenance position by Macek, Rosing, George L. Pry and Nancy Sciulli DiNardo.
Sciulli DiNardo stressed that the decision to eliminate any position in the district is always a hard one to make.
"They are not easy decisions for any one of us," she said, quipping later that some of the employees set to be furloughed "used to be our friends prior to our vote."
She then supported the board's decisions by saying, "We cannot continue to be everything for everybody."
With the exception of saving the maintenance position, Sciulli DiNardo and Pry voted "yes" to all other proposed staff cuts and furloughs on Wednesday night. Fellow board members Nancy Lee Crowder, Kevin J. Fischer and board President John B. Schmotzer voted "yes" to every cut and furlough.
Schmotzer has defended the staff cuts, saying that they do "not reduce any education programs whatsoever."
Dr. Randal A. Lutz, who will become the district's head superintendent on July 1, called the administration's recommended budget, which included the cuts, "the right thing to do" and "the responsible thing to do."
"These section reductions are not cuts to programs," Lutz said in regard to the teaching cuts specifically, citing factors like "student population" and "student grade level counts" as the reasons for staff reductions.
"Some years, you have larger classes that are rolling through, and you need to add teachers," he said. "Other years, you have smaller classes that roll through, and then, not as many sections are necessary.
"This is something that, actually, is a process that we follow every single year."
He added that the nursing cut will only affect how Baldwin-Whitehall will staff approved private schools in the district, not the public schools that are overseen by district administrators.
As for the custodial cuts, Schmotzer said that none of those positions is currently filled by a full-time employee.
But Baldwin High custodian Jeffrey Pfaff, of Lucy Drive in Baldwin Borough, used public comments time near the beginning of Wednesday's meeting to speak against the proposed cuts to the high school's custodial staff.
Pfaff said that the high school, in his opinion, is "not cleaned properly" and "not taken care of properly."
Nevertheless, the board elected to cut custodial staffing at Baldwin H.S. by 1.5 full-time position equivalents.
Check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch later on Thursday for more odds and ends from Wednesday night's school board meeting.
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