'Pay to Play,' Promotions & Other Leftovers from a June 13 B-W School Board Mtg.

The board will consider charging students for extracurricular activities.

'Pay to Play'

"I think the time has come" were the words of Baldwin-Whitehall School Board member Kevin J. Fischer on Wednesday night describing his motion for B-W School District administrators to develop a fee structure for student participation in extracurricular activities.

Fischer did not motion for a fee structure to be implemented just yet, only to be developed and studied.

Fellow board member Nancy Sciulli DiNardo seconded Fischer's motion "for conversation," and the motion passed, 9-0.

This isn't the first time that B-W board members have discussed "pay to play."

"I have mixed emotions for this (paying for activities)," board member Nancy Lee Crowder , acknowledging that extracurricular activities are part of students' educational experiences but also that times are tough economically for public schools.

Crowder said that her sister's school district charges students $75 each to participate in interscholastic athletics. Crowder finds logic in that system, saying that she doesn't see why in-school sports organizations should be treated much differently than out-of-school sports organizations, which do require athletes to pay fees.

But board President John B. Schmotzer said on Wednesday that the amount of money raised by $75 fees in Baldwin-Whitehall would be "inconsequential" to the district. He said that implementing a fee structure would be "symbolic to the taxpayers," though.

Still, Schmotzer maintained that some families in B-W's diverse communities may have trouble coming up with $75.

He that the school board should protect its district's low-income families who could not afford a pay-to-play price. He said that he would never prevent, "even out of (his) own pocket," a low-income student from participating in an activity.

"We've put if off—pay to play," Fischer . "It is something that needs to be looked at. It is a sign of the times.

"The free ride—for all intents and purposes—is coming to an end."

It is not known yet if district administrators' pay-to-play fee structure will be limited to sports or if it will reach all activities. It is also not known which grade levels would be affected.

New Vice Principals at Paynter, Whitehall

By 9-0 votes, the B-W School Board approved the promotions of Heatherlyn Wessel, a kindergarten teacher, to the position of vice principal at , and Anissa Rosenwald, a Spanish teacher and 's activities coordinator, to the position of vice principal at .

Both positions call for annual salaries of $60,000.

After voting, Sciulli DiNardo expressed satisfaction that Wessel and Rosenwald were already employees of the .

"Some of our best principals are those that have come along and worked their way up the ranks," Sciulli DiNardo said.

Tenure Granted

Five other district educators were granted tenure by the school board on Wednesday by a 9-0 vote.

Approved were Michael Dzanaj, a fifth-grade teacher at Whitehall Elementary; Sara Nairn, a science teacher at Baldwin High; Kathleen Neyman, an academic supporter in math at Whitehall Elementary; Kristal Seale, a math teacher at Baldwin High; and Peter Wagner Jr., the dean of students at Baldwin High.

2012-13 Student Board Reps (Almost) Finalized

Jaclyn Sirc and Victoria Schmotzer were officially welcomed back by the school board on Wednesday to serve as student board representatives during the 2012-13 school year. They will represent the school district's senior and junior classes, respectively.

Joining them will be Jennifer Yanko, who will represent the district's sophomore class. All three students were approved by the board, 9-0.

Dr. Randal A. Lutz, who will become the district's head superintendent on July 1, said that he will approach the school board in August with a recommendation to add another student board representative. The fourth rep will be a male who will also be from one of those three classes.

VISION Club Visit to Bay St. Louis, MS

Retired Baldwin H.S. teacher Richard Yount gave a presentation on Wednesday night about Baldwin's VISION Club students' trip to Bay St. Louis, MS, during the spring semester.

The trip was a Hurricane Katrina relief effort, and Yount and the Baldwin students helped to repair homes.

The students, as well as Yount and parent sponsors, were praised for their efforts by the school board.

"This truly is one of the most worthwhile types of—for lack of a better word—field trips that we do," Fischer said to Yount's group. "My hat's off to all of you for that fine effort."

Student Awards

The B-W School Board recognized a number of district students on Wednesday for their recent accomplishments.

- Receiving awards were kindergartener Ava Sedlock and first-grader Christian Forgacs, W.R. Paynter Elementary kindergartener Ethan Cooley, first-grader Trey Hilger, second-grader Jacob Landman, third-grader Paige Williams, fourth-grader Alexis Kennard and fifth-grader Thembi Mtingiza, and Whitehall Elementary second-grader Ronnie Irvin, third-grader Connor Woods, fourth-grader Matt Cortazzo and fifth-grader Michael Badstibner.

- Honored for earning Steel Center Area Vocational Technical School Extra Effort Awards were Gwendolyn Schmidt (advertising & design), Adam Heenan (collision repair & refinishing), Rebecca Sayenga (cosmetology) and Amanda Lenkiewicz (retail food merchandising and production).

- Honored for earning Steel Center Top of the Shop Awards were Michael Lynch (medium/heavy truck technology), Sean Meyer (collision repair & refinishing), Mariah Nelson (cosmetology), Tyler Price (carpentry) and Alan Yaugh (building trades).

- Honored for earning Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Outstanding Young Citizens gold medal awards were Vivianne Mazzocco, Daniel McTiernan and Katherine Schmotzer.

Goodbye to Korchnak, Wilkinson, McKain

B-W School District Superintendent Dr. Lawrence C. Korchnak, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Dr. John D. Wilkinson and Assistant to the Superintendent for Finance and Operations William D. McKain have each attended their final B-W School Board meeting.

Korchnak , Wilkinson , and McKain .

No Board Meeting Next Month

The next B-W School Board meeting will be held on Aug. 1.

Surprise! Baldwin-Whitehall Maintains Tax Line

Read .

Staff Cuts, Furloughs Help Baldwin-Whitehall Balance its Budget

Read .


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JustMe June 16, 2012 at 11:07 PM
It wasn't the families faults they were dumped in Baldwin/Whitehall and my children have made friends with a few of them. Some of their stories are sad at what was happening to them in their country. They were so poor that they didn't have the food or resources to purchase any so most of these kids only knew you ate once a day. They should of had classes for these kids to learn English before they mainstreamed them and put the rest of the students behind but leave it to Baldwin/Whitehall, they didn't want to waste money on more teachers and help for these students. They were to busy thinking of their pay raises.
former June 17, 2012 at 12:39 AM
JustMe, The comments you make are absurd. First you support the district every which way, then you are critical on everything. You have too much time on your hands. Here's an idea, put some of your time to good use and go out and make some positive change.
cc June 17, 2012 at 02:37 AM
former what positive things are you doing to make this school district better. Do you know JustMe and know that she has extra time on her hands. I don't see her supportive of the school district, in fact I see her quite upset at what the school district is doing to our children educations and making parents pay to play is a joke along with punishing a child because he had to go to a funeral and a coach pocketing money for baseball conditioning camp. you must have to much time on your hand to be rude to another person.
Robert Edward Healy, III June 18, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Folks, no offense to any of you individually, but I feel that it is in the best interest of those involved that we do not post accusations on here that coaches and administrators are pocketing families' money or playing favorites. I'm suggesting that you take your concerns directly to the school board or to district administration.
Truth hurts June 18, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Well, I have been wondering when "Cryin Brian" was going to come up with some comments, its been a while since I have seen them. You have such great ideas Mr. Rampolla, why don't you run to save the citizens of this district? Oh wait, you tried and failed... Oh well, back to the drawing board.
Common Sense June 18, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I agree NB. There has to be some other ways that we can make it work without the pay for play option.
Sasafras Jackson June 18, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Purple Power June 18, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I agree with "Truth" on this one, in part because there are so many that have such great aspirations to change the district, yet none of them step up to do so. When they do, they focus so much on battling the others running and trying to bring to light so many negatives about their opponents and don't put enough emphasis on their own agenda for change. Instead of getting in a battle of words, they need to just present themselves and what direction they want to take. Real change takes time, but real people show their true colors right away. I have voted my heart in the last few elections and it is mainly because I pick people that are not out publically doing the same bashing that their opponents are doing. The "Old Boys Club" might be seated now, but I would trade that for three members with common sense and a warm six pack.
Brian Rampolla June 19, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Very clever Truth Hurts. OK, I’m now ‘Cryin Brian’. I ran for the board 4 years ago because I thought the district should invest more in cutting edge science related programs to keep our kids competitive, should provide more information to the district residents, and should actively encourage community participation. Nothing has changed. Other local districts now have proactive, innovative STEM programs, provide more information including broadcasting of board meetings, and actively encourage community participation. Case in point is Peter’s Township, one of the best districts in the state. Their board in 2008 established a Long Range Vision Committee “…to involve the community in the process of collecting ideas to assist the Board and Superintendent in establishing goals for the District in both the immediate and long term.” The Peters and Upper St. Clair boards have also established specific goals for themselves, and rate themselves against those goals every year. We have every right to expect our board members to be looking at what boards in highly ranked districts are doing and bring these ideas to BW. As long as I have a student in this district and as long as the quality of the school district is one of the major factors affecting the quality of this community and our property values, I’ll keep challenging this board to do so. If you want to call this crying Truth Hurts, or if you want to call it bashing Purple Power, be my guest.
Purple Power June 19, 2012 at 01:20 PM
No Mr Rampolla, you are missing my point. I am simply saying that in most posts and especially when it comes to campaign literature, from the group which you align yourself, it appears that you are more concerned with combating the "good old boys" and less about what you will actually do to move the district forward. Your last post shows that significant strides are being made toward not continuing on that path. I am all for calling people out and I definately think that a wind of change is needed in this district. I think that the boys club faction will be less represented in the next election and we can finally get representation that will get us back on the right path.
Brian Rampolla June 20, 2012 at 11:25 PM
You’ve got a lot of nerve, Purple Power, to imply that my actions have anything to do with campaign issues or alignment with any group. Everything I’ve addressed at meetings or in these posts has been for the advancement of the students. Since district academic performance is the boards top priority, and since the BW overall ranking has steadily declined since 2008, I have every right to focus my criticisms on the ‘good old boys’ (Schmotzer, Pry, Fischer, Kazour) who’ve been on the board this whole time, which goes double for the first three because they’ve also served as board president. As to specific actions, ask Mr. O’Toole, Ms. McHugh, Mr. Radomsky, Dr. Korchnak, Dr. Lutz, or Dr. Wilkinson about my 10/28/11 e-mail making specific recommendations regarding energy education. I gave them details and contact information for the Pitt Power and Energy Initiative, which aims to train the next generation of power engineers we’ll need to keep the lights on in this country. Pitt has trained high school teachers in other districts on concepts for development of energy related programs, so I suggested we get this training for BW teachers. Ask Mr. O’Toole and Dr. Lutz about my 5/15/12 e-mail making specific recommendations regarding expanding the high school elective robotics class to a full year program to allow the kids to build robots for the many available competitions, which in turn might open collaborative opportunities with CMU. (to be continued)
Brian Rampolla June 20, 2012 at 11:26 PM
In both examples from the previous post my emphasis was on the fact that Pittsburgh has world class university programs not 10 miles away, so it would sure make sense to develop related programs that would allow BW graduates to be competitive candidates for these programs. Did you know that one of the high school teachers last year wanted to get a small wind turbine at the school to demonstrate alternative energy? I offered my enthusiastic support and even provided contact information for the company that installed the vertical wind turbines at some Eat’N Park stores. Have you heard any member of this board, old or new, ever make any kind of similar suggestion, or push the administration to seek out such programs, or ask the community for such ideas? The answer is a resounding NO. So, my criticism in this regard applies to every single member of this board. I can only conclude that no-one on this board, or even in the entire school district for that matter, wants to stick their neck out. Shame on everyone if that’s the case because our kids lose. And Dr. Power, I’m so relieved you think I’m making great strides to get back on the correct path. I’m sure you’ll want to continue monitoring my progress, so perhaps we can schedule regular sessions to keep me on the straight and narrow.
cc June 21, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Brian I am with you. You would of loved the first Semesters Robotics class. Half way though the first semester the license ran out for the software and students couldn't program from the software or learn much the rest of the semester because of this. Also half the robotic equipment was broken, did not work and their was no money in the budget to replace parts that they needed. They didn't even have the money to purchase the license agreement. After this happen students work was done from books and papers the teacher printed for them. But no more hands on experience. I am glad for the last 3 years I've been able to get my child in a summer program at CMU for Robotics as that is what he plans on studying when he goes to college. Last summer I was so proud of him when he won an award at a competition in Robotics.
10-4GB June 21, 2012 at 05:08 PM
The money involved that would come from my pocket for pay to play is not what concerns me. However, I do oppose it because of it excluding low income students. What really makes me mad is if we do pay to play it will become "daddy ball" which is what lots of other BW youth sports are, it doesn't matter how good you are, just who your dad is and if he contributes money, is on the board, or is a coach. Pay to play is a bad idea because the playing should be based on skill in grades 7-12, not how big your pocketbook is, or how much free time your parents have to dedicate to the sport.
Brian Rampolla June 22, 2012 at 01:04 AM
CC - Good for you and good for your son, and shame and more shame on the high school for the situation with the robotics class. I'm glad you brought up this issue again because it reminded me that you or someone else had mentioned it before after which I brought it to the attention of Dr. Lutz. I've not heard back from him. I'm sure at least a few school board members read the Patch, so let's see if any of them think this is a suitable issue to raise in public at the next meeting on August 1. In addition, every student who signed up for this class next year, and their parents, should be at the board meetings demanding action from Mr. O'Toole to make sure the one and only robotics class this district offers is the best it can be, and to demand expanded classes. I especially want to encourage the students to also raise this issue to their board representatives because the representatives do a good job forcing the board and administration to address issues of concern to the students, and they usually do not let these issues drop.
cc June 23, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Brian it wasn't me that mentions the Robotics class before but a lot of the parents in the class were pissed off and call over the the Administrative Building, only to be told that they would receive a call back. No return calls though were made.
cc June 23, 2012 at 11:58 PM
ml what other schools have ways for students to earn the fees required to participate? I know Upper St Clair, Peters, Norwin the 3 schools in our area that do have Pay to Play don't have anything like this in place.
JustMe June 24, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Pay to Play Sports has opened many law suits over the United States as Parents are paying up from 50 per child per sport. In one school district, one parent sued and won 100,000 because she paid for her child to play and all students that paid were placed on the teams. Her child did not get to play in one game so she sued the school district and won the case. Other parents followed though with suing the same district also as their child only got to play 5 minutes the whole season. Is our Dean of Sports going to make sure that each child that makes the team and "paid to play" is going to play in all games? This is just opening a big can of worms .
10-4GB June 25, 2012 at 12:14 PM
JustMe - that is exactly what I expected. It makes sense because they way youth sports should work is that every kid gets to play, because you paid. That same idea however should not happen in 7-12th grade, but it would in a pay to play system. Is my $50 for my kid better than your $50, if not then why isn't your kid the QB too!? A huge can of worms!!!!! How about a little tax raise, or a high paid school administrator taking a pay cut for the kids instead of a raise and promotion. If BW cuts sports less people will consider living in BW because we offer less opportunities than other districts and then we have less tax $!
Embarrassed whitehall resident June 25, 2012 at 01:05 PM
All these comments are very interesting but everyone is losing sight of the main issue: we ALREADY pay enough for our kids to play sports, we dont need a tax increase for this, or any other fees. And yes some never see playing time at all and they want us to pay more for this on top of everything else we have to buy and pay for them to participate in these sports? This is a stupid idea. In the main article that was posted, the comment "Board President John B. Schmotzer said on Wednesday that the amount of money raised by $75 fees in Baldwin-Whitehall would be "inconsequential" to the district." , so, why do it at all? Many families have more than one kid attending school who play more than one sport. We have a huge community of low income families that that it would be hard on so they would not play.Sports keep kids out out trouble they know they have to maintain a certain grade point avg to even play, and it gives kids a sense of self worth, integrity and accomplishment, along with learning important things like being a team player and discipline. etc. And why should we pay an activities fee when we pay taxes?That comment from ML that they should put in a contract that you have to pay but that doesnt give your child any promises of seeing playing time at all to protect the district from lawsuits made me want to scream. This should be about whats best for our kids, and this whole idea is just stupid. There are SO many other issues that board should be discussing.
JustMe June 25, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Sorry but I don't think the lady was unreasonable at all, the school wanted Pay to Play. She paid for her child to play and her child wasn't put in one game, so she sued. It is happening all over that if your paying to play, then they need to put every child in every game. Just like little league, hockey and football leagues, it is who donates the most money or is a coach, assistant coach kids and their friends that get to play. They might be passing up on an awesome athlete but they don't give the chances to everyone. Pay to Play has to do with Sports. If they call it an activities fee, then they would have to charge band, cheerleading, chess club, and all the other clubs at the school a fee.
10-4GB June 25, 2012 at 10:03 PM
If they want to consider pay to play they should do this: 1. List all current activities 2. All of those activities have the same rate, decide on a rate 3. If one of these activities is ended due to lack of funding then you will know pay to play didn't work and cancel the pay to play program. It just is not going to work, no way. Just hike up the school tax a little, you know they are going to do it eventually anyway, just bump it a little every few years so we don't get a big shock down the road.
JustMe June 25, 2012 at 10:09 PM
RM you are so right there. Why shouldn't my kid play one quarter of a game if your child is playing the whole game. I paid my money also and want my child in the game. GBWAA does it all the time, if your not the coaches son, help with the team, work in the concession or your child isn't friends with the coaches kids, then your child sits all but one inning. I agree have the Administrators take a pay cut, but forgot they gave themselves a nice raise. I budgeted in for a 1 mil tax raise this year in case our taxes went up. Now I can keep this money for when they vote themselves another raise, add more Dean of Sports positions, and slam us next year with a 2 mil tax increase.
Common Sense June 25, 2012 at 10:45 PM
I don't agree with the pay to play. I think that the woman who sued is part of what is wrong with this entire country...entitlements. The school district obviously screwed up the wording or however this was put in place and payed the price for their stupidity. I think that high school sports should not mandate playing time and at age 14 you should know whether or not you deserve playing time or not and there are rec leagues for most sports for athletes that don't make the high school teams, but still want to participate. I feel for the student athletes who show up to practice every day and work their butts off but have limited ability and rarely see the playing field or court, but that is life and life isn't fair. If you aren't a good lawyer, you don't get cases and I could sight many other real life examples but you get my point.
Common Sense June 25, 2012 at 10:51 PM
JustMe, every administrator in every other school district gets a raise and the BWSD isn't different. There are roughly 25 administrators in the BWSD and over 400 teachers. Do the math and realize that if the teachers took a one year pay freeze, like the administrators did this past year, that they would save the district much more money and is what other districts are doing in this budget crunch time. Most and possibly all of the building administrators make less money than the top step teachers.
JustMe June 26, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Common Sense, they took a freeze in pay for one year. Then the next year they got the money back on the tax freeze and on top of that got a pay raise. What did our students get, a cut in teachers, cut in the Technology Department and now they want to charge Pay to Play, real fair to our students. Teachers contract is coming up in the next 2 years and I see a strike coming on for more money and benefits.
JustMe June 26, 2012 at 03:03 AM
B-W I am so with you on everything you said and I couldn't believe ml said that then again yes I could from other comments that she makes on the Patch. If that was the case I don't see many parents paying because the district writes up "Were taking your money, but don't expect your child to play" and you can't sue us either over this so nanananana.
Jean Smith June 26, 2012 at 02:55 PM
ML- did you read what JustMe wrote "Pay to Play Sports has opened many law suits over the United States as Parents are paying up from 50 per child per sport. In one school district, one parent sued and won 100,000 because she paid for her child to play and all students that paid were placed on the teams. Her child did not get to play in one game so she sued the school district and won the case." It said her child did not get to play in any of the games so she sued and won the case. It did not say that the child played in all games but didn't play in one of the games. The school was greedy placing all the students on teams that "Payed to Play" The child should of been placed in every game as all the other children that payed the school for their child to pay. Common Sense -why do you call it entitlement when she paid for her child to play and they didn't get to play in any games. That is what Pay to Play is "Entitlement", because she expected her child to play in every game. If the school wasn't so greedy and placed all the students on the team instead of all the students that would play, then they wouldn't be sued. But she said all the students were placed on teams that payed so her child was Entitled to play, she paid the money, just like in league sports that Boroughs, Townships have. All children play on these leagues no matter how good or bad they are.
Jean Smith June 26, 2012 at 02:59 PM
ML and Common Sense do either of you have students that goes to Baldwin School District right now?
Jean Smith June 26, 2012 at 03:02 PM
ML you make no sense at all with your comment. Do you have children in the school?


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