Measures taken for student safety at Baldwin-Whitehall
By Brittany Goncar
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Baldwin-Whitehall School District is heightening security at all buildings.
Parents are being discouraged from walking students to the classrooms in the elementary and middle schools.
“We have the important task of keeping students safe,” Superintendent Randal Lutz said. “The more the building is open, the less control we have over those variables.”
Parents are still encouraged to drive their children to school, but not to walk them inside the building.
“That's a big culture change for kindergarten parents, because these are their babies,” McAnnulty Principal Daniel Emanuelson said. “They want to walk them down to their room. It's hard to just let them go at the door or put them on a bus.”
McAnnulty, W. R. Paynter and Whitehall elementary schools will take students on bus rides during their new student orientations to ease nerves about riding a school bus for the first time.
At Paynter, parents will have the opportunity to walk their children to the auditorium the first week of classes, said Principal Tricia Fusco. Teachers will then escort students to their classrooms.
There are extra concerns at the high school because of the diverse modes of transportation taken by students, Lutz said.
“There are too many opportunities for the kids that are on foot to interact with the cars,” Lutz said. “We are looking to minimize where those dangers are.”
Whitehall Deputy Police Chief Richard Danko is working with Lutz to adjust high traffic areas at the back entrance of Baldwin High School for student safety.
There are new cameras and buzzers to gain entrance to the elementary and middle schools this year. The process is about the same, Lutz said.
“It provides better visibility,” Lutz said. There is better quality for who is at the door.”
The new systems are worked through the computer and internet versus an old circuit television. The new system will provide better accessibility to visitors, but more clarity for staff. Whitehall Police also will have access to cameras that view the exterior of the buildings, or where the public generally congregates.
The school district is implementing a “this we believe” scheduling theme for the 2013-14 school year.
Lutz stressed the importance of having schedules that are conducive to student needs and have been responsive to students, especially at Baldwin High School.
“We look at the talent of the entire staff and distribute those talents evenly across where the needs of the kids are,” Lutz said. We just need to make sure we reach educator and student needs together.”
Teachers at McAnnulty Elementary School are continuing to focus on students reading up to grade, Emanuelson said.
“We meet once every 30 days to look at every single kid in the classroom to see if that kid is making progress toward his or her academic goals,” Emanuelson said.
The staff at Harrison Middle School also accommodates the diverse needs of its students. They are integrating a new science curriculum that includes biology in the second semester of eighth grade to prepare for the Keystone Exams the following year.
“We want to start the foundation early,” said Mike Wetmiller, principal at Harrison.
W. R. Paynter Elementary School added a sixth kindergarten this year due to a high level of enrollment, Fusco said. The classes will decrease from 23 students to 21.
“I know it's only a couple less, but it makes a huge difference,” Fusco said.
Currently, there are 737 students.
• Buses will be operating with a new two-way radio system in order to have better communication with the garage. Drivers experienced dead zones with the cell phones that were issued in the past. All of Baldwin-Whitehall's buses have passed state inspection for the 2013-14 school year.
• W.R. Paynter Elementary School will be participating in the Fuel Up to Play for 60 program this year. The school received a $5,000 grant in May from the H.J. Heinz Foundation as part of the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. The program encourages students to eat healthy and get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day.
• Students will experience a 10 cent lunch increase making the new prices $1.90 in the elementary buildings and $2.15 at the secondary level.
• Slow-pitch softball will now be considered a club sport.
Brittany Goncar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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