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WCSD discusses course changes

Whitehall-Coplay School Board held education/student activities, operations/transportation and finance/personnel committee meetings Jan. 10.

Whitehall High School Assistant Principal Heather Hampton updated the board on changes to the course catalog, including the elimination of the creative writing and graphic calculator coding courses. Hampton said WHS offers journalism, yearbook and studio media studies courses as alternatives to creative writing and coding and computer science courses in place of graphic calculator coding.

Other changes include a new website for summer assignments and new links added to the course catalog that include graduation pathways.

Hampton also said students taking Advanced Placement courses will no longer have to take the AP exam to receive AP weight. Taking the AP test gives students the opportunity to earn college credit. According to Hampton, there are several reasons students may choose not to take the exam, such as the course not counting for them in college.

Another change is the elimination of the literary analysis section of the dual enrollment research and composition course, as it is not part of Lehigh Carbon Community College’s curriculum.

Hampton also stated there will be more ways to earn college credit through dual enrollment in the 2022-23 catalog.

Course selection for 2022-23 will take place Jan. 27. Counselors will be working individually with students to assist in selecting appropriate classes.

New at Lehigh Career and Technical Institute will be a diversified career occupation program, which allows students to earn course credit through working.

A new animal sciences program will be offered to LCTI seniors.

Two LCTI courses have been renamed. Early career and education of young children will be renamed teachers education. Exercise science and rehabilitation services will be renamed health and medical sciences.

The education/student activities portion also included a review of the June 6 WHS graduation date at the PPL Center, Allentown. This will be the second year WCSD will be holding graduation at the facility.

During the operations/transportation portion of the meeting, WCSD Superintendent Dr. Robert Steckel discussed a request from Bob Eggstein, owner of Keystone Harley-Davidson, 2800 Eberhart Road, to use the transportation office’s employee parking lot during summer, spring and fall for a Motorcycle Safety Academy program.

A fee of $50 per hour for outside for-profit groups would be received, with an estimated 712 hours of usage. Steckel hopes to have a facilities use agreement with Keystone Harley-Davidson and Motorcycle Safety Academy ready in time for the February board meeting.

Also at the meeting, James Hanna, project manager with D’Huy Engineering Inc., updated the board on the budget for the new elementary school. While Hanna has been able to tighten some costs, supply chain issues could pose a problem. Hanna and Steckel discussed renting a storage area so supplies could be purchased as soon as they become available.

Hanna said the project is out for advertisement, and documents will be released for bidding Jan. 18.

Bids will be received 2 p.m. March 1 in the district office. A recommendation will be given to the board March 14, and a special board meeting may need to be held in order to approve it in the desired time frame.

After the bidding, the chosen contractor will be given a notice to proceed, and equipment is expected to be on site by April 28. The administration building must be vacated by May 24.

At the end of the project in June 2024, Gockley Elementary’s portable classrooms will be removed and the building will be converted into a new administration building.

The new elementary school should be completed during the summer of 2024.

The district is using Markwood Group, an Allentown real estate firm, to search for commercial space to use as the administration building while the new elementary school is being built. The current administration building will be torn down to make room for the school. The cost is estimated at $40 million.

The district is also putting a bid out for new buses, including up to 10 78-passenger and four 30-passenger buses, as well as two 24-passenger wheelchair buses. The estimated total cost is $1.4 million, and ESSER grant money will be used for the purchases. The age of and mileage on the current buses make replacement the best option, it was reported.

Finally, during the finance/personnel part of the meeting, the board discussed a resolution to stay below the ACT 1 Index, which will keep any tax increases at or below 4.6 percent while still being sufficient to balance the 2022-23 school year budget.

The board discussed a gas and diesel fuel bid with Parkland School District. Bids will be opened 1 p.m. Jan 24.

The next school board meeting will be 7 p.m. Jan. 24.