How Should Student Board Reps Earn Their Spots?
Picking up on conversations from previous school board meetings, members of the Baldwin-Whitehall School Board, members of the audience and the board's student representatives each weighed in during a Wednesday night board meeting on what the process should be for selecting student board reps.
seniors Jaclyn Sirc and Joseph Doyle, junior Victoria Schmotzer and sophomore Jennifer Yanko are the district's current student board reps. Each of them was nominated for their positions by district administrators before being approved the board.
Board member Kevin J. Fischer has said that he would prefer that students elect their own student board reps, while folks like state Rep. Martin Michael Schmotzer—who spoke during public comments time—said that the district's current nomination practice is just fine.
Yanko agreed with Martin Schmotzer, saying that an election would merely be a popularity contest and that students who go through an application process with administration are more likely to be committed to their positions.
Board member Nancy Lee Crowder said that she would like to see a hybrid model that allows for several nominations from administration followed by a student body vote on those nominations.
Ed Moeller—a councilman and a former school board member who was instrumental in first instituting district policy regarding student board reps—used public comments time to agree with Crowder. Moeller said that he would like to see "an election process among three qualified candidates (per class)."
And while Fischer, Crowder and fellow board member Ray Rosing all agreed that students who get elected or appointed should serve their class until they graduate, board member Tracy Macek argued that different students should have a chance every year to serve as a student board rep.
"They can do a lot of things in nine months," Macek said, arguing against the notion that one school year wouldn't be enough time for each rep to make an impact.
Victoria Schmotzer said that possibly changing student board reps every year could lead to a lack of continuity among the reps, hindering progress.
Regardless of what the school board ultimately decides, the current student board reps are "grandfathered in," as board member George L. Pry put it, meaning that they will serve as their classes' reps until they graduate (unless they leave the district, resign or are removed for proper cause).
According to district policy, the purpose of having student board reps is "to provide a communications link between the board and the students, to have the students' viewpoints and concerns presented and to provide a learning experience for students."
No action was taken on Wednesday to change the district's current practices of administration appointment and no term limits. But action changing those practices could occur at a future board meeting.
Board Approves Deasy's Employment Separation Agreement
Following an approximately 15-minute closed-doors session, the B-W School Board on Wednesday night approved, 5-4, an employment separation agreement with its former Director of Pupil Services Virginia Deasy that grants Deasy health care benefits for a little longer than the next three years.
Deasy was when her former position was eliminated to help balance the B-W School District's 2012-13 budget.
Deasy was then to the district to fill a vacant special education teaching position, but she never accepted that position.
"She did not want to come back as a teacher," B-W Superintendent Dr. Randal A. Lutz said in an interview on Thursday.
Diana Kazour, Nancy Sciulli DiNardo, Larry Pantuso and Rosing unsuccessfully voted against accepting the separation agreement.
The agreement would protect the district against any possible lawsuit brought by Deasy claiming an unlawful furlough, Lutz said.
Lutz said that her health benefits would amount to anywhere from approximately $18,000 to $20,000 over the next three years and a few months.
"Of course, you can't predict the future on benefits," Lutz said, "but by today’s value, it's about $450 a month.
"It (the agreement) was basically something that would protect the long-term interests of the district, so we thought it was necessary to do it."
Crowder Doesn't Like Marching Band's Summer Uniforms
Crowder used board member comments time to speak critically of the Baldwin High marching band's summer uniforms, saying that they do not show enough of the district's color scheme.
"I ," she said. "I go to to watch the Baldwin band. When I see the band in those summer uniforms, it doesn't scream Baldwin-Whitehall.
"I don't know where the khaki shorts came from, but I hate 'em."
Crowder acknowledged that purple or white shorts may not be best but suggested black shorts instead.
"We have purple, white and black in our colors. Khaki is not on the list."
Mary Ann Kraus to Retire
Mary Ann Kraus, the district's administrative assistant to the superintendent for many years, will retire at the end of this calendar year.
LISTEN: School Board Member's Loud, Colorful Speech Rouses Audience
'Back to Basics': B-W Superintendent Lays Out Plan for Academic Success
Sign up for the daily Baldwin-Whitehall newsletter.