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Nitschmann certified green

The agenda was short on items, but long on celebration at the meeting of BASD facilities and curriculum committees Sept. 9. Chief Facilities and Operations Officer Mark Stein joined partners from Breslin Architects and D’Huy Engineering in unveiling the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certificate awarded to Nitschmann MS, and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jack Silva and CTO Marie Bachman provided details on the successful deployment of 3,300 laptop computers during the first week of school.

Nitschmann earned its LEED Gold designation by meeting the requirements established by the nonprofit US Green Building Council in 2009 and undergoing a verification by Green Business Certification, Inc. LEED-certified buildings are more energy-efficient and have better air quality than similar buildings that have not earned this designation. D’Huy principal M. Arif Fazil noted that although Nitschmann had a score of 74 points (on a 100-point scale) and could have earned platinum certification by adding a few additional features such as a rainwater capture system, his team worked with the district to focus instead on features, that would provide a payback in terms of energy cost savings.

By September 2020, all middle and high school students in the district will have their own BASD-provided computing devices, the bulk of which are Lenovo and Samsung Chromebooks. The first wave of deployment took place in August of this year, with students in eighth grade through 10th grade receiving Chromebooks and the district laying the groundwork to lend students Kajeet mobile hotspots (known as SmartSpots) to access the internet when away from wi-fi networks. The first student borrowed a mobile hotspot over the weekend of September 6–9; the district uses software to monitor students’ site visits and bandwidth usage. Parent technology instruction nights are being planned in conjunction with community partners, including the Hispanic Center and Iglesia Esperanza, to help students’ families make the most productive use of the newly deployed devices.

Other facilities committee items included an update on the projects completed over the summer and a notification that next summer’s HVAC renovation projects at Asa Packer ES and Spring Garden ES will be put out to bid in October.

Other curriculum committee items included plans to apply for the fifth consecutive year for a “Ready to Learn” block grant from the Pa. Department of Education to fund all-day kindergarten and a recommendation from the committee that the board approve a $34,000 contract with Colonial IU 20 to provide professional development to Freedom and Liberty HS teachers as part of the second phase of its Learner-Centered Instruction (LCI) initiative.

Student services director Vivian Robledo-Shorey presented the district’s comprehensive kindergarten through high school counseling career program. Chapter 339 of Pa. education law mandates that each district create and implement a plan of this nature to support students’ academic achievement and emotional and social growth. Chapter 339 plans are also intended to help students develop awareness of their interests and plan to develop their skills so that they can pursue post-high school paths of their choice. The board will vote on the plan at its Sept. 23 meeting.

Local resident Stephen Antalics used the “courtesy of the floor” portion of the meeting to follow up on his previously expressed concerns about concussions among high school athletes. BASD health services supervisor Kathleen Halkins not only provided answers to Antalics’s questions about concussions, but has also been working with nationally recognized concussion expert Brenda Eagan-Johnson to review the district’s “return to learn” policies for athletes suffering head injuries.

press photos by theresa o'brienNitschmann MS, located at 1002 W. Union Blvd. in Bethlehem, was certified LEED Gold because of its high energy efficiency and sustainable design. The project made use of a $2 million state grant.