Baldwin-Whitehall shakes up administrative staff

| Thursday, June 20, 2013, 1:24 p.m.

Two Baldwin High School football coaches will lose their dean of students positions effective Monday, and a new vice principal will start at the high school.

The Baldwin-Whitehall School Board approved the elimination of the dean positions at both Baldwin High School and J.E. Harrison Middle School in a 7-2 vote on June 19. Board members Larry Pantuso and Tracy Macek dissented.

In eliminating the positions, the board approved moving John Saras to the vice principal position at the high school effective Monday. He was a math teacher at Harrison Middle School. His salary will be $75,000 for the 2013-14 school year.

“Tonight's meeting was filled with very difficult decisions, and some are not going to be very popular, but you have to do what you believe is in the best interest of the kids, not just for the short term, but for the long term,” Superintendent Randal Lutz said. “If there was a time to look at this restructuring, there was no better time than now.”

Although a vice principal and dean of students have some similar duties, a vice principal is able to supervise and evaluate staff, as well as suspend students. The state requires minimum teaching experience of five years to be a vice principal.

Both deans, Pete Wagner Jr., 30, and Mike Voelker Jr., 30, will be teaching in the district for the 2013-14 school year, Lutz said.

The board voted on reassigning Wagner and Voelker separately, at the request of board member Martin Michael Schmotzer.

“It came as a surprise to me,” Wagner said. “I received a phone call from the superintendent from the board meeting about five minutes before the decision was made.”

Wagner has been the dean of students at Baldwin for four years and earned $68,958 for that position in the 2012-13 school year. In February, he was appointed head football coach, with an annual salary of $11,976.

“I've enjoyed my time working with the administration at the high school,” Wagner said. “I treasure the relationships I've made with them and look forward to continuing down that path.” Voelker is the defensive coordinator for the varsity football team and the head coach of the junior varsity boys basketball team. He has served as dean of students at Harrison for three years and earned a salary of $52,610 in that position in the 2012-13 school year.

“I was surprised by what happened, but I'm still happy to be a part of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District,” Voelker said.

Lutz elaborated on the decision.

“From a personal point of view in regards of what people may think, I'm not cold-hearted, even though the recommendation was to move in a different direction,” Lutz said.

“I absolutely didn't want anyone to be without employment.”

The district has yet to hire a new principal for the high school since Kevin O'Toole resigned earlier this month.

Brittany Goncar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or Trib Total Media staff writer Kevin Gorman contributed to this report.

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