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Some division at Baldwin over new football coach hire

| Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 3:03 p.m.

The dean of students at Baldwin High School will serve as the head football coach for the 2013-14 season.

The Baldwin-Whitehall School Board approved Peter J. Wagner Jr., in a 6-3 vote, for the top varsity and junior varsity coaching position at a salary of $11,476 on Feb. 13. Board President Nancy Sciulli DiNardo and board members George Pry and Nancy Crowder dissented.

“He's worked with the kids. He knows the kids,” said Ray Rosing, a school board member. “When are we going to give somebody a chance?”

The school board denied, in a 5-4 vote, hiring Greg Perry for the coaching position before approving Wagner.

The administration recommended Perry as the top candidate for the position.

Perry coached at Seton LaSalle High School for the last 20 years, including the last eight as head coach, said Gary Kelly, a Whitehall resident, whose sons played football under Perry's instruction.

That experience is significantly more than Wagner's, Kelly said.

“(Perry) has really been the constant in that program during the last 20 years,” Kelly said. “I'm embarrassed to be a taxpayer in this community ... This is about fairness.”

Board member Martin Michael Schmotzer said the process and manner in which Wagner was hired was fair.

“This board did not direct who to interview, who not to interview,” Schmotzer said.

Interim principal

The Baldwin-Whitehall School Board is seeking an interim principal for the high school.

“I've been trying to recruit the right person,” Superintendent Randal Lutz said.

Kevin O'Toole, principal at Baldwin High School, took a leave of absence in January for the spring semester, citing personal reasons, Lutz said. The expectation is that O'Toole will return at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Baldwin High School's administration includes O'Toole, Janeen Peretin and Jonathan Peebles as vice principals and Peter J. Wagner Jr., dean of students. Lutz said an interim principal is needed to maintain the everyday functioning of running a building with 1,500 students.

The board approved on Feb. 13 approved hiring an interim principal.

Administrator awards

The school board recognized administrators at J.E. Harrison Middle School, McAnnulty and Paynter elementary schools for earning Keystone Achievement Awards.

The awards are given to schools that meet the federal No Child Left Behind adequate yearly progress on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments two years in a row, Lutz said.

School Board Vice President Kevin Fischer said getting all five of the district's schools to receive Keystone Achievement Awards needs to be a priority.

Schmotzer agreed.

“I'm not happy with three out of five schools,” he said.

• The Baldwin-Whitehall School Board recognized students that placed in the 2013 Scholastic Art and Writing competition, Steel Center's Top of the Shop awards and earned a spot in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association region band concert and competition.

Scholastic Art and Writing winners included Hunter Brain, Dennis Doyle. Kayla Keefer, Alicia Mastroianni and Carley Malenka; John Ryan and Matthew Mient received Top of the Shop awards; and Marissa Eynon, a clarinetist, will represent Baldwin High School at Mercer Area Middle-High School on March 7-9.

• Rumors that Baldwin-Whitehall will outsource the food service program are false, Schmotzer said.

“We have people in the community that do it very, very well,” he said.

Likewise, Jackie Sirc, a student representative to the school board, said that students enjoy the food this year, even with the federal stipulations on nutrition and calories per meal.

Laura Van Wert is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5814 or at lvanwert@tribweb.com.

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