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Staff Cuts, Furloughs Help Baldwin-Whitehall Balance its Budget

Some teaching and other staff positions will be eliminated for 2012-13.

The Baldwin-Whitehall School Board rejected a proposal by B-W School District administrators at a meeting on Wednesday night to , opting instead for .

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  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 ; the half-time equivalent of a district-wide nursing position; 1.5 full-time equivalents of custodial positions at , one full-time equivalent of custodial positions at J.E. Harrison Middle; 0.5 full-time equivalents of custodial positions at ; one full-time equivalent of custodial positions at ; 0.75 full-time equivalents of custodial positions at ; one full-time equivalent of custodial positions at the ; 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 , 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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cc June 26, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Common Sense and ML know it all about the school and are the experts on everything. How dare you tell someone to move. Our school district is a joke, starting with the administration down to the Cream of the Crop teachers you think are in the school district. They hire the bottom of the barrel because teachers don't want to come to Baldwin. Baldwin Mom, they have to take high school classes at Pitt, Penn State, Clarion, etc also, because Baldwin doesn't prepare our students for college, they are just greedy people that want big fat pay raises for doing nothing and that is what they do nothing. Neither one of these people have kids in Baldwin but they are experts. Since 1998 Baldwin drops every year in Ratings and I give it another 5 years and they will be at the end of the list. Thank goodness that their are great Cyber Schools and Charter Schools around as many parents are pulling their children out of the district. Maybe ML and Common Sense should of been down a the Charter School Open House down in Homestead. There was more parents from Baldwin then any other school district there and none of the parents had anything nice to say about Baldwin and the school district.
Jean Smith June 27, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Very ignorant but your answer doesn't surprise me at all. So glad you and ml can solve all the worlds problems. Maybe the two of you should move on your own personal island so the real would won't hit you in the face head on. For 2 people that doesn't have children in school, your both an expert on all the classes, teachers and everything else that goes on up at the school.
Janet June 27, 2012 at 12:37 PM
I apologize in advance to anyone I may offend with this comment. The cuts have been made, it's obviously a done deal. So why do you continue to bash the school district? Instead of bashing the district or others for their opinion, why not focus on getting parents/taxpayers involved to go to the August 3rd meeting to voice your opinions/concerns to the school board? I do have children still attending school in this district. If comments like Baldwin doesn't prepare the students for college is true, then I would think (only my personal opinion), parents would be packing the board room voicing their concerns. We all know when the board meetings get jammed packed with parents/concerns it gets the school boards attention. I just don't see where attacking individuals is getting anyone. I will say, I just think some individuals do just like stirring the pot to give them something to do when they get on the computer.
Barbara Ri. June 27, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Why apologize? Who are these people offending by telling the truth about their kids' years at the district schools, in particular the grand high school on the hill. I couldn't agree more with their statements actually. My daughter attended Baldwin and graduated in 08. She went on to IUP. She also had to take an English and a Math course that they said she needed. So there was extra tuition money for her education I had not expected. But it was paid for her education. When it came time to send my younger daughter to high school I decided to send her to Seton where we pay big bucks for her tuition but she helps out with working. We decided not to send her to Baldwin so that she might get the better education in Seton and that was our choice, I know. And I realize there are those students who will come out of there who are able to do anything, who are better than when they entered, who are (in their parents and some teachers minds) "little geniuses" and that is a wonderful thing. But we need to focus on those kids who seem to fall through the cracks, who also deserve to come out of there better and more educated than when they entered. Those kids deserve the education just as much as little Susie Einstein or the son or daughter of a school board member or a teacher. I applaud these parents for coming forward, even if some feel it is an attack of some sort, to say how Baldwin turns out some graduates. These are our kids ... fight for each one!
Janet June 27, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Barbara my point is that these same parents do not go and fill the board room for meetings about their concerns. They're quick to put their comments on the Patch, but won't attend public meetings to get the word out to the public right in front of the school board members. Yes it is so much easier and less effort to put out of our busy schedules to post something on the Patch than go to a meeting, but if it is that important to a parent they somehow find a way to attend a meeting to get the boards attention.

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