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Bethlehem Area School District begins negotiations with Superintendent Roy

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 22 2013 09:05:30 PM CDT
Dr. Joseph Roy
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

The Bethlehem Area School District Board of Directors are so pleased with the performance of Superintendent Joseph Roy they are already negotiating his next contract before his current one expires.

The comments were made by President Michael Faccinetto during Monday night’s special school board meeting, held at the Education Center. Roy, who is entering the final year of his four-year contract, took over the district in 2010. The extension is expected to be for an additional five years.

In other business Monday night, the Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School’s request to acquire an additional location met with a loud thud during Curriculum Committee’s meeting.

“I don’t know why we would be willing to do it,” said Director William Burkhardt.

Roy’s administration did not recommend board approval of the request for various reasons, according to Jack Silva, BASD's assistant superintendent for education.

“First, legal compliance doesn’t allow it,” Silva told the committee Monday night. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not allow for charter schools to be located in two separate locations, except in the City of Philadelphia, Silva noted. BASD’s directors had approved the DLCS charter to operate a 551 Thomas St. The school is seeking to acquire an additional location on Bridal Path Road, and split their student body among the two buildings, with kindergarten through fourth grade in one building and grades five through seven in the other.

“We need additional space,” according Principal Lisa Pluchinsky. “I want to add that we are not changing the charter or programming. We just need a second site.” She added the location at 551 Thomas St. is not conducive to expansion.

The school’s niche is that it teaches all subjects in Spanish and English on alternative days. Last year the school had students in kindergarten through sixth grade, with expansion set to add seventh grade classes during the 2013-2014 school year. In making her case, Pluchinsky noted that school had made progress in Reading and Math scores from the 2012 to 2013 school years.

Nevertheless Silva noted that while he thought Pluchinsky is a fine educator and principal and that the school has indeed made progress, that it was the administration’s position there was still more work to be done. For example, the charter school would not be able to provide adequate administrative coverage at the two buildings. Director Basilio Bonilla Jr. agreed.

“I am concerned that they would be spread too thin,” he said under the proposed scenario.

The committee agreed to move the proposal to the full board for vote at their August meeting.

In other news before the committee, school district officials updated directors on the Nitschmann Middle School project during the Facilities Committee meeting. The news was mostly non-descript in that the district is on schedule with RFP proposal’s due date, narrowing of candidates and selection of companies on schedule, according to Mark Stein, the district’s facilities and plant operations director. To that end, the directors authorized D’Huy Engineering to prepare and submit an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for a $2 million Alternative and Clean Energy Grant. The application will cost $10,000 to prepare and submit. Should the grant application prove unsuccessful, D’Huy has agreed to waive those costs.