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WCSD superintendent lauds board members

At the Jan. 23 Whitehall-Coplay School Board meeting, Whitehall-Coplay School District Superintendent Dr. Robert Steckel Jr. acknowledged school board members and thanked them for their service in celebration of School Director Recognition Month.

“I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to our board and all school directors across the commonwealth,” Steckel said. “We appreciate your leadership and support as we all work hard to provide opportunities for our students. It’s truly a pleasure to work alongside this group of nine people. I appreciate your insight and your decision making.”

Steckel also thanked Whitehall-Coplay Middle School Student Council members for creating cards for the school board members.

In other news, Whitehall High School Student Council President Alexis Quach provided an overview of recent activities and upcoming events. Quach said Student Council is selling carnations Jan. 24-31, with delivery Feb. 14.

Also, an upcoming annual March Madness activity period will feature activities such as swimming, cooking and an open mic, with a student-faculty basketball game being held March 16. There will also be a prom fashion show presented by Zephyr Nation 7 p.m. Feb. 24.

Quach added a winter formal will be held March 11, sponsored by the freshman and sophomore classes to help them raise money. The formal is open to all high school students.

In other business, Whitehall-Coplay PTO PLUS President Toni Fillman discussed a recent Chick-fil-A luncheon where students ate lunch with their principals. She said Zephyr Elementary School Principal Gabriel Dillard also played games with the students.

The PTO PLUS book fair bingo will be held Feb. 3 at WCMS, and students will be able to choose a book if they win. Also, beginning Jan. 30, Valentine’s Day pencils and lollipops will be available for purchase.

Fillman thanked WHS Student Council for its help with bingo and other events and clarified that, while Student Council members can apply for a PTO scholarship, a student whose parent(s) helped the PTO from kindergarten on up may also apply. Fillman also thanked PTO PLUS volunteer Tracey Corteen for running all of the book fairs and the book fair bingo.

During the superintendent’s update, Steckel said Lehigh Career and Technical Institute students will be participating in the SkillsUSA District 11 competition, which was set to be held Jan. 25, with a snow date of Jan. 26.

Steckel added there is one more built-in snow day on the calendar, and the district’s goal is 180 in-person days. Steckel also introduced new WHS guidance counselor Logan Kendy.

In other business, the board approved new job descriptions for a traffic monitor, bus aide monitor and coordinator of data information.

The board approved the settlement agreement and release involving the refund of realty transfer tax to ARD Mac Commons LLC, subject to final review and approval of the school district administration and solicitor.

The board approved the accelerated budget opt-out resolution, certifying the real estate tax rate will not increase by more than the Act 1 adjusted index for the 2023-24 fiscal year budget.

The board also approved the 2023-24 program of studies as presented.

The board approved the resolution to award the bid for the makeup air handler unit replacement project at WHS and Zephyr that was approved at the Dec. 19, 2022, board meeting. It will be paid for from the capital reserve fund.

Also approved was the resolution to reject the bid for the fuel island canopy project. Steckel said only one competitive bid came in, and the quote was substantially higher than what was budgeted. He said they are going to look at other options to keep costs down.

Approved retirements include Carol Jo Reitz, business teacher at WHS; Charles Gerancher Jr., computer/technology teacher at Steckel Elementary School; Elisabeth Long, gifted teacher at WCMS; Michelle Beck, school psychologist at Zephyr; Carol Fetchko, librarian at Zephyr; Michelle Fodor, fourth-grade teacher at Zephyr; and Suzanne Riola, first-grade teacher at Gockley Elementary School. The retirements are effective the last day of the 2022-23 school year.

Other retirements include Craig Shoemaker, bus driver, effective Jan. 1.

Approved resignations include Nicole Seng, guidance counselor at WHS, effective Dec. 20, 2022; Stacy Hall, payroll specialist at the district administration office, effective Dec. 22, 2022; Tamara Velez, special education paraprofessional at WHS, effective Jan. 9; and Denise Ritter, data coordinator at the district administration office. Ritter accepted the principal’s secretary position at Zephyr.

The next school board meeting will be 7 p.m. Feb. 27.

Committee meetings on education/student activities, operations/transportation and finance personnel will be held 4 p.m. Feb. 13.