Archive for category joseph roy

Bethlehem charter school to get 5 more years with enrollment cap

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School has agreed to limit the number of Bethlehem Area School District students it enrolls.

The Bethlehem Area School District plans to …

Liberty High School determined safe after bomb threat

Authorities searched the building.

UPDATE: 2 teens arrested in Liberty High School bomb threat
Liberty High School was evacuated Friday morning due to a bomb threat, Bethleh…

Why Bethlehem schools are owed almost $500K from the state

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced the findings of the audit, which turned up the transportation reimbursement error.

A state audit revealed that the Bethlehem Area…

5 things to know from Monday’s Bethlehem school board meeting

It was a fast, but busy meeting.

Monday night’s Bethlehem Area School Board regular monthly meeting was quick, but the board tackled a lot of things.
Here’s a run down on wh…

Bethlehem school board backs lowest average tax hike in years

But Lehigh County residents will feel a lot more pain due to a state calculation change.

Bethlehem Area School District tax bills will rise 1.24 percent on average,&nbs…

Bethlehem schools’ lowest tax hike in years still has pain

A change in a state calculation means higher taxes for the district’s Lehigh County residents.

While the Bethlehem Area School Board is proposing one of its smallest tax hikes in recent years, the news isn’t good for taxpayers in the Lehigh County section of the district. 

On Monday night, the board voted 7-1 to approve a $268.4 million proposed final budget that would increase taxes by 2.31 percent on average. Director Tom Thomasik voted against the plan and Director Shannon L. Patrick was absent due to a personal emergency.

But the average is a bit misleading as Lehigh County taxpayers will see a much larger tax hike due to a change in a state calculation. 

“That is not due to any actions of the school district,” Superintendent Joseph Roy said.

The median Northampton County homeowner’s tax bill would rise by $72 under the proposal. In neighboring Lehigh County, the median bill would rise by almost $154.

The proposed tax increase is below the district’s Act 1 Index of 3.1 percent and lower than the 2.95 percent hike in the spending plan floated last month.

  Northampon Lehigh BASD average
Proposed budget tax impact 2.20% 2.82% 2.31%
Multi-county rebalancing impact 0 3.57%  
Overall proposed tax change 2.20% 6.39%  

Roy said the administration further scaled back the budget since Lehigh County homeowners were seeing such a larger increase.

Because the district spans two counties, it needs the state to determine each county’s share of the tax burden to set its annual tax millage rate. That is done by coming up with common level ratios of assessed value to market value.

This year, the State Equalization Tax Board stopped counting the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem and other properties lying within a South Bethlehem tax incremental financing district as part of Northampton’s market value.

The board argued the new market values of the TIF properties had been improperly included for the past 15 years. The district argued that Bethlehem’s TIF is unique because the district does get some of the new money the properties generate.

In the end, the state agreed to count a portion of the properties, but it still resulted in a major shit of the tax burden to Lehigh County.

How an accounting error could have spiked your school tax bills

The budget continues to push the district’s major educational initiative such as reading on grade level by third grade while controlling spending, Roy said. He noted many worthwhile initiatives didn’t make it into the budget because of cost concerns.

The district began the budget process with a $12.56 million deficit, which has been closed by tapping $4 million from its savings and cutting spending. The budget cuts include six teaching positions, two guidance counselors and four instructional aides through attrition. It also reduces social workers the district hires as contractors in the two high schools.

Director Dean Donaher said Bethlehem wouldn’t have had to raise taxes the last five years if it wasn’t funding skyrocketing pension and charter school costs. He said he’s not anti-charter but wants a level playing field, like cyber charter tuition reimbursement at actual cost.

Donaher urged state lawmakers to tackle those issues and take a strong look at properly funding public education at the state level.

“Kids are getting the education they need because the local taxpayer picks up the tab year after year,” said Michael Faccinetto, school board president.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find on Facebook.


How much your Bethlehem school tax bill jumps will depend on where you live

The district is committed to staying under a 3.1 percent tax hike.

Tax bills are going up in the Bethlehem Area School District, but by how much depends on which county you live …

Can random breath tests stop teens from drinking?

The Bethlehem Area School District wants to test students ahead of dances.

Soon, Bethlehem Area School District teens may have to randomly submit to a breath-alcohol test be…

Lehigh Valley students’ snow day tweets get BuzzFeed’s attention

Bethlehem schools Superintendent Joseph Roy cancelled school Wednesday night and students had some funny responses.

Bethlehem Area School District Superintendent Joseph Roy’s Twitter usage has been making headlines in the Lehigh Valley for years. 

But district students’ over-the-top responses to his decision to call a snow day Wednesday night before the flakes began to fall has garnered the attention of BuzzFeed News.


— Junien (@Junien12) February 9, 2017

@BASDSUPT You’re the only presidential candidate I would ever vote for.

— Paige Della (@paigeluvhanover) February 9, 2017

@BASDSUPT I feel as if I just got truly blessed

— Gab (@GabBuell) February 9, 2017

@BASDSUPT h just made 10,000 kids’ day by simply typing a few words

— Steve Recchio (@stevstevstevv) February 9, 2017

Roy joined Twitter back in 2013 hoping to connect with parents and instead found that students were among his most loyal Twitter fans. His followers surged during Superstorm Sandy and kept growing as the winter went on.

Typically, as soon as the weather forecast mentions snow the pleas to cancel school start popping up. And Roy responds to most of the tweets.

As Twitter’s made more features available, like a GIF search in Twitter, student replies have gotten more and more creative.

Today, Roy’s got close to 10,000 followers and it gives him a way to connect to students on a personal level that wouldn’t be possible otherwise in the sixth largest school district in Pennsylvania.

After cancelling school, Roy had some fun with students telling them to join him for an early morning Twitter chat. 

@BASDSUPT I am going to thoroughly disappointed if I wake up tomorrow at 6:00 am and you are not live!

— Peter Schleicher (@PSsince01) February 9, 2017

@BASDSUPT With all due respect sir , we are using this delay to gain sleep that will help us advance in the classroom.

— Elliott Bond (@EBond99) February 9, 2017

Roy talked to BuzzFeed News about the unexpected connections he’s made with students and the perks of Twitter.

And, sorry guys, he also exclusively told BuzzFeed that school will definitely be open tomorrow.

BuzzFeed talks to Joe RoyBethlehem Area School District Superintendent Joseph Roy dished with BuzzFeed News Thursday about Twitter.Sara K. Satullo | For

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find on Facebook.

Lehigh University plans 400-bed dorm by Broughal

The new residence hall is part of the university’s plans to boost its enrollment by 1,800 students over the next seven years.

Lehigh University plans to build a new 400-bed dorm on Brodhead Avenue across from Broughal Middle School.

The project is part of the school’s major expansion push to enroll another 1,800 students over seven years. It also continues the university’s effort to move off the hill and further integrate into the South Bethlehem community.

“Success at Lehigh is inextricably tied to the vibrancy of South Bethlehem,” Lehigh spokeswoman Lori Friedman said. “…We continue to find opportunities for the campus community to further engage in the Southside in an effort to boost the economic vitality in the area.”

The dorm, expected to open in July 2019, would be built on a parking lot at the northwest corner of Packer and Brodhead avenues across from Broughal Middle School, she said.

Bethlehem Area School District Superintendent Joseph Roy said the district will work closely with the university during construction.

He noted that Broughal is already close to Lehigh buildings, dorms and student apartments. And students and faculty frequently volunteer at the middle school.

“Lehigh’s planned growth will be good for the Southside community, which includes the parents of our Broughal students,” Roy said. “… We don’t anticipate anything but good to come from the project.”

The size and exact location of the building has not been determined yet. Local developers Jefferson Werner, Allied Building Corp. and J.G. Petrucci have been invited to submit proposals.

The parking lot, which abuts several Lehigh administrative offices, extends almost to East Fourth Street, backing up to the former 48 Hour Video and the offices of District Judge Nancy Matos Gonzalez.

The 60 people working in the existing Brodhead Avenue offices will be moved to developer Dennis Benner’s new six-story building, which is under construction at Third and New streets, Friedman said. The existing buildings would be torn down.

Lehigh already has announced plans to move its 120-person advancement team to the Benner’s new building and to move administrative offices to the Flatiron building.

Single mom/Army veteran about to get her 4th degree in 5 years

To make up for the lost parking spaces, Lehigh plans to add remote parking on the Mountaintop and Goodman campuses, which will be supported by the transit system. In a few months, the university will add a new electric bus into its fleet.

All of the 180 employees being moved to the Broad and New building will park in the city deck that is under construction.

The dorms mark the first construction-related announcement stemming from the “bold academic vision” Lehigh President John D. Simon’s laid out in a 10-year plan last fall.

Simon called for adding 100 new faculty members, 1,000 undergrads and 500 to 800 full-time grad students over the next seven years.

Simon promised that as the university expands, Lehigh will add a College of Health, renovate the university center, add a new science and research center and expand on-campus housing offerings. The university does not anticipate needing to buy new land to accommodate the growth, Friedman said.

No decisions have been made where to locate these new facilities. Plans for these other endeavors are still underway, Friedman said. A committee is working on the College of Health idea but it is in the early stages, she said.

Lehigh recently finished a comprehensive housing master plan, which identified the need for at least 400 more beds to support the enrollment growth.

“Expanding residential housing opportunities on campus is an important part of enhancing student life on campus,” Friedman said.

The plan calls for housing 70 percent of Lehigh undergraduates — that’s about 4,100 beds — on-campus and providing partner housing for graduate students.

Currently, about 67 percent of undergrads, or 3,359 students, live in campus housing.

The exact layout of the Brodhead dorm site is still up in the air but in addition to dorm rooms, the residence hall will include communal kitchens, community, social, multipurpose and learning spaces. It will feature areas for holding activities, like game and movie nights, as well as access to campus dining and mentors.

Lehigh’s hired Brailsford and Dunlavey to manage the program development and developer selection. The university noted it is committed to smart, efficient, sustainable design, but also working with developers that hire locals and partner with minority and women-owned businesses.

Lehigh is committed to collaborating with developers who work with minority and women owned businesses and to local hiring that supports workforce development.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find on Facebook.