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BASD directors agree to propose elimination of 22 staffers

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 28 2014 09:10:23 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 29 2014 04:40:56 AM CDT
Joseph Roy, BASD Supt.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

The Bethlehem Area School District Board of Directors voted 8-1 during Monday night's meeting to seek approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to furlough 22 district employees.

Director Basillo Bonilla Jr. provided the dissenting vote.

The job cuts are the vision of the administration of Superintendent Joseph Roy to deal with a substantial 2014-2015 budget shortfall that was presented during an April 24th budget workshop meeting that also included a potential 4.9 percent tax increase to deal with soaring retirement and charter school costs.

Roy is hopeful the majority of the job cuts can be done through attrition.

The resolution passed by the board will cut two district technology integration professionals and six elementary teachers, which is a response to a decline in enrollment at the level for past school years.

The district noted Monday night that elementary enrollment decreased by 120 students in the current school year and they anticipate another 75 fewer students during the 2014-2015 school year.

In addition, four middle level literacy program instructors will also lose their jobs. 

Six other teachers will be cut at the high school level and the loss will be made up by reinstating a 20-student minimum for elective courses and maximizing class sizes in core subjects.

The district will also tighten staffing of core subjects at 28 students per class.

This is the result of what BASD expects to be a 158-student decline in high school enrollment in the 2014-2015 school year.

In other business, the board advanced the new Nitschmann Middle School project by voting to allow the district to enter into a lease agreement with the City of Bethlehem to lease a portion of the Rose Garden for a term of three years.

The area will be used as a staging area for construction vehicles and for employee and construction worker parking during the term of the project.

The lease does not require a financial payment from the district, although the district has agreed to remove the existing playground and construct a new, similar playground in the park area in an area designated by the city.

The district will also be responsible to replace 250 feet of sidewalk and trim the trees adjacent to the staging area.

Once the project is complete, the district will also be responsible to restore the area to its previous condition.

In addition, the board also authorized D'Huy Engineering Inc. to prepare and submit an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for a $146,400 transportation grant for the Nitschmann project at a cost not to exceed $4,200.

The TAP grant reimburses project site improvement costs that create safe routes to school such as building new sidewalks and walkways, integrating pedestrian and bicycle signs and signals and general crossing improvements that will improve safety.

If D'Huy's application proves unsuccessful, the company has agreed to waive the application costs.

The board also approved the hiring of Ricky Amato to become the assistant principal for Broughal Middle School. He will be paid $87,257 annually.