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Directors discuss changes to high school courses

At the Whitehall-Coplay School Board education/student activities, operations/transportation and finance/personnel committee meetings Dec. 21, Whitehall High School Assistant Principal Heather Hampton discussed course changes for the 2021-22 school year.

Environmental science will replace college prep and core earth sciences, with incoming freshmen at the honors level being promoted to honors biology; Math for Modern Living will replace core algebra 2; and a new digital arts course will be available.

Renamed courses include English 4 dual enrollment, changed to Research and Composition; Studio Communications 1 and 2 will be Studio and Media Design; Electronics in Our World will be Intro to Electronics and Robotics; and Graphic Communications will become Graphic Design and will be transferred from the technology department to the art department.

Honors microbiology and honors biotechnology have not been available in past years due to lack of student interest and will be formally removed from the catalog. Hampton said courses such as AP biology, honors genetics and honors anatomy and physiology are available.

Advanced drawing dual enrollment will become a general art class, as it is an introductory class at the college level.

Lehigh Career and Technical Institute’s tech prep programs will be converted to a career and tech prep program. LCTI also renamed several courses and is adding teacher education and health and human services programs. The health occupation lab will be eliminated.

Hampton also informed the board the Keystone Exam graduation requirements have been delayed for the Class of 2023, and there will be changes in the wording to the pathway to graduation.

Course scheduling for the 2021-22 school year will be done virtually Jan. 29, 2021. A link for parents to view with their children will be sent, so they can learn how to fill out the course selection sheets and review the course catalog.

Normally, WHS hosts an academic planning night attended by college representatives, but due to the pandemic, links will be available for parents and students discussing careers, college and trade school enrollment, virtual college tours and information on joining the military. Hampton and guidance counselors will be available to answer questions or offer assistance to parents and students.

Middle school guidance counselors will be offering a virtual night as well to inform eighth-grade students and parents about the transition to high school.

In other news, Jim Hanna, project manager at D’Huy Engineering, Bethlehem, discussed necessary changes in the high school and field house renovation projects. Change orders for WHS included repairs on insulation and ductwork, which were spotted when the ceilings and walls were opened; a new pool heat exchanger; repairs to old piping in the art room that leaked when the boilers were started; replacement of the mini-split system in the cafeteria area; and a gas pipe repair.

Hanna said contractors have punch lists they are working on at night and on weekends. They are nearing the project closeout, which involves completion of documentation and HVAC balancing to ensure the air flow in all rooms is working and that there is proper water flow to heating coils.

Also at the meeting, Dr. Lorie Hackett, Whitehall-Coplay School District superintendent, addressed the board about the construction of the new elementary school that was put on hold for one year in March. The project would have been ready for bidding, and the completion date was projected to be August 2022.

In the near future, WCSB will need to vote on the next step for the project. Hackett discussed two options, with the first being starting construction June 2021, with completion by August 2024. To meet this timeline, the board must make a decision six to eight weeks before construction would start in June.

The second option includes waiting until June 2022 to begin construction, with completion in August 2025. That is the longest construction can be postponed while still staying within permit guidelines.

Hackett said before board members vote, they will be able to look at financing options to make a better-informed decision. Further delaying construction will result in cost increases due to inflation and additional lease fees for portables.

Board member Tina Koren said the construction should be pushed back until a new superintendent has been hired.

Hackett also presented a request from Whitehall Township Public Library, which is on WCSD property, to do landscaping, at no cost to the district.

Additionally, Hackett asked the board for permission to hire a nurse assistant and paraprofessional before the next board meeting.

The next school board meeting will be 7 p.m. Jan. 11, 2021.