Hear Our Voice … Budget Thoughts

 

In 2013 our district came together and we stood united to stop a grave injustice.  After we rallied together, we swore we’d keep an eye on the board to make sure that they have our kid’s best interest in mind.

I am proud to say, we have done absolutely that.  We took a stand and voted out the old board (as many of them as we could) that was so willing to make a mockery out of our district.  We have voted in a new board that cares deeply about what happens to our students.

Regretfully, the change in leadership came too late to stop the damaging actions of the old board, which has now left us with a serious monetary shortfall.

As the school administration and the school board try and find a way out of our current financial issues, you are once again showing up and standing tall for our schools and students.  You showed up en masse to let the administration and school board know how deeply you care about our kid’s education.  They know that the public is watching.

There is one significant difference between the current board and the old board though…the current board WANTS you there.  They WANT to hear what your concerns are.  Your concerns are their concerns.   They don’t have all of the answers, they need us to help them figure out what to do.  The decisions they are making are hard and your feedback helps them with perspective.  So please, keep sharing your concerns, ideas, and suggestions.

If you want to hear that sentiment directly from the board themselves, follow this link and fast forward to 25 minutes and 30 seconds by clicking the bar at the bottom of the video.   You will get to hear the heartfelt thanks the board is giving to the public and their promises that they are working tirelessly to find the best solution to a difficult problem.

So in that spirit, I’d like to offer up my services to collect any concerns or suggestions you might have for the school board.  I will gather them all up and send them to all of the board members.  I can’t say what they will do with the information once I send it, but based on what I’ve seen, they will take them seriously.

You can either reply to this post, tweet @bwAction, or email me at bwsdJack@gmail.com.  I look forward to seeing what you have to say.

PA Schools Need A State Budget Passed Now #PassPABudget

The Pennsylvania state budget is now 254 days late. There are 110 days until the 2016-17 budget must be passed. Our schools need state funding to continue to educate our children.

HH: Are programs at risk?

RL:      Yes.  The state impasse has left a huge hole in our budget.  It is a hole that the local taxpayers cannot and should not have to make up. – See more at: http://bwschools.net/District/Blog/19316-The-Pennsylvania-State-Budget-Impasse.html#sthash.aQUTYcon.dpuf

Schools are beginning to take loans out to continue to operate, other schools are depleting their fund balance.

The state budget impasse prompted Plum School District leaders to approve a $14 million loan Tuesday night to cover day-to-day costs through the end of the school year.

http://triblive.com/news/education/10101113-74/district-state-budget

 

Brentwood Borough School District will be out of money by the end of May — barring “a miracle” or passage of the state budget, Superintendent Amy Burch said.

http://triblive.com/news/neighborhoods/southhills/10038177-74/district-state-burch

 

Though Penn-Trafford School District has about $4.5 million in reserve funds, it may take out a loan if a state budget isn’t passed soon.

http://triblive.com/news/neighborhoods/penn-trafford/10108061-74/district-budget-loan

Action needs to be taken to have the state do their job and pass a budget. We can not wait any longer. This is a serious situation that must be addressed and we as citizens need to make our voices heard to have the state do their job.

PSBA takes court action to force the release of funds owed to schools

https://www.psba.org/2016/03/psba-files-lawsuit-force-commonwealth-pennsylvania-release-funds-owed-schools/

 

If you believe in Fair Funding for all Pennsylvania students, please fill this out. It takes one minute to let your voice be heard. We all need to share and encourage others to do the same. Thanks!!

 

Call-to-action-with-wordsAsk your lawmakers to invest in students.

Unless a significant new investment is made and distributed through a fair funding formula, public schools will be forced to cut or reduce more programs and make local tax increases that hurt our students, schools, communities, and economy.

http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51238/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17283

 

 

BWSD Drug Trends Presentation Very Informative

Last week Baldwin-Whitehall School District hosted a presentation on Drug Trends by Gateway Rehab. I was honored to speak about my personal experience with addiction and overdose. My talk was very tough for me, the grief of lose overcomes you at different times. But it is important to tell the story and let people know that it CAN and DOES happen to anyone. Addiction does NOT discriminate!

The presentation which was also a forum to discuss our current epidemic was very informative. Apparently, this is a regular presentation that have a very low turnout. I am glad that the district continues to host these and provide a way to inform the community. Our kids are confronted with substances at a very early age now, we have to watch them and educate them often and early.

“Rather than just getting bits and pieces of information from new stories, these are the people that are seeing it first-hand and telling what they’re seeing right now,” Lewis said. “It’s not going to be a waste of your time.”

Read more at http://triblive.com/news/neighborhoods/southhills/9927152-74/lewis-whitehall-parents

Our children are not only confronted with drugs (including alcohol and cigarettes) at a young age but also with even more dangerous drugs than ever before. There are now drugs that can be sold in stores and marketed as “not for human consumption” that can be lethal to our children. With the legalization of marijuana in some of the states, much more potent marijuana is available and readily available through the mail. Kids are having what are called “skittle parties”. These are parties where the kids get their hands on any medicine from medicine cabinets and share and see what they do. Drugs are available in our homes, we have prescriptions that are legally prescribed to us that kids will try. Doctors are prescribing strong opioids for injuries that can very easily be abused and turned into an addiction.

“The information is ever-changing,” Lewis said. “Kids have the potential to be exposed to this at any age.”

One thing that we all know is that we must have and keep open communication with our children. Our children must know they can talk to us about anything. Not only do we need to educate them on what is available but to help them build strategies to confront peer pressure. Will our children turn down a drink at a party? Do they really know how and what to do if confronted with a drink or substance? I try to role play with my children about what they would do if they are in a situation and try to teach them ways out of the situation. We must talk to other families, do you know who your kids hang out with. Do they keep medicine and alcohol locked up?

Our school is taking a very active effort. This is just one of the steps that the schools can do. But, we have to remember that substance abuse occurs outside of school. There are kids using drugs before they get on a school bus. Also, they can very easily use a water bottle to have alcohol in. I am excited that we now have a full time School Resource Officer to help out in our schools. He is a very valuable resource to our students and our schools. I am firm believer in making the school a team member in my children’s education and life. Our children are there a large portion of the day, find ways to help our school help our children. This in turn will help our community.

So, I ask you… What can we as a community do to combat the current health crisis?

 

Upcoming Event for Families with Young Children

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Little Learners Early Childhood Extravaganza

Kids Kount is hosting their first annual fair aimed at introducing kids and their families to local resources and services available in the community.  They have a magician, puppet shows, Disney princesses, a superhero, local preschools, dentists, pediatricians, EMS, WIC, and the public libraries.

It looks like a fun time for the kids and it should be helpful to have a bunch of local resources in one place that we adults can learn about.  Please share this event with your neighbors with young children or even neighbors who are working on starting a family.  Its never too early to learn what is available.

Kids Kount is a consortium of agencies, schools, and individuals interested in helping families with young children make use of the resources available to them in and around the Baldwin Whitehall community.

When: March 5th, 2016 10:30 am to 12 PM
Where: Baldwin High School

Drugs: What Students are Using Today

Yesterday, I was thrilled to learn about the “Drugs: What Students are Using Today” presentation that will be hosted by Baldwin-Whitehall School District. As someone who is personally affected by this horrible epidemic and who knows that this disease affects EVERYONE, I beg you to please attend.

Children are using drugs at younger ages more than ever, and they are experimenting with stronger and more addictive drugs than in the past. Also, children are being prescribed addicting drugs that can lead to a life of addiction.

There are so many new drugs on the street, kids are having “Pharm” and “Skittles” parties.  Thank you Baldwin-Whitehall Administration and  Gateway for hosting this event. We must do everything we can to save this generation.

fataloverdoses
http://www.overdosefreepa.pitt.edu/fatal-overdoses-by-year/

10627219443_7c160a0298_oPlease don’t let your loved one become part of this horrible statistic. I can tell you it tears me apart that my beloved niece, Amber passed away 8 months ago today… I miss and think about her every single day.

 

Baldwin-Whitehall School District presents, Drugs: What Students are Using Today

A representative from Gateway Rehabilitation will present pertinent information on current trends in student drug use.  An opportunity to ask questions will be available following the presentation.

Date: Thursday, February 18, 2016

Location: Whitehall Elementary School’s Library

Time:  6:30-8:00 p.m.

All parents are invited to attend

Please contact Amy Lewis, at 412-885-7525 or alewis@bwschools.net with any questions.  Please use this form to register before February 17, 2016http://goo.gl/forms/Fh7zt8q1PI

UPDATE: 2/4/2016 6:30PM – This presentation is for adults only.

News From Around the District

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One of the regular features I hope to have on bwaction is periodic digest of things going on in the district.  If you run across anything of interest please feel free to send it my way for inclusion.

News:
SeaPerch challenge
– BWSD students building robots…underwater robots!
Full Time Police Officer Assigned to the District

Opportunities:
Elementary School After School Golf Program: McAnnulty, Whitehall, Paynter
Buick Achievers Scholarship Program

Flourish – A program for high school girls
PFEW Summer Program – A program to encourage high school students to explore various careers.  All graduates of the program receive scholarship money
CanTEEN program – a program that hosts tours and meet and greets of local female professionals in STEM fields.

Hello.

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Thank you Lou, both for your kind words and even more so for the pivotal role you played in helping our community.  You and this site served as a focal point to rally the community during some dark times.  I am proud to count you as a friend and thrilled to have you serving the community in such an important role.  I will do my best to keep BW Action an important part of the community.

 

I am thrilled to continue along the path Lou started with keeping this site a community hub, a place people can expect helpful information that applies to the place they live.

 

Beyond that, I intend on using the site to help encourage and enable involvement among the community.  We now have a school board that encourages citizen feedback.  They want to work together with the community to make our school district the best it can possibly be.  To do that, we need to have an open exchange of ideas and concerns.  A community, with a common purpose, can accomplish anything.

 

I hope you will join me and the rest of the community in being involved where you can, even if it’s just by being informed.  I encourage anyone to reach out to me with suggestions, concerns, ideas, or just to say hi.  Really. My email is bwsdJack@gmail.com.  With text messages and Facebook, I never get email anymore, I kind of miss it 🙂

 

A little bit about me:

I am 38 years old and I live in Whitehall.  I am married to my high school sweetheart, Carey.  We have three kids who are my everything: Jack Jr 7 is in first grade at McAnnulty, Kaylee 5 and goes to Baldwin Community Preschoool, and Sarah is 2.5 and she is the real boss of the house.  I work in IT (one of the many things Lou and I have in common) as a government contractor.  I love all things tech and I love using technology to help people.  I play a little hockey, I like video games, and I am an intermittent “daddy blogger.”  But mostly, I am a dad and my favorite hobby is just playing with my kids.

New Beginnings – Welcome Jack and Thank You

 

I have been thinking a lot about the direction of BWAction. How can I continue to provide useful information with my new added responsibilities. Not only am I a school board director now, but also I am on the core team at Not One More Pittsburgh Chapter.

At Not One More we are working on building an education program to help with prevention of addiction and overdose. We are now part of the DEA 360 Strategy and very proud of that. We have a lot of work ahead of us and I encourage you to follow us.

As part of the school board I am now able to help bring change to our district. I hope to restore the board room to an environment that will foster creative ideas and collaboration. The board room is full of some very talented people who care and want to make our district great.

11068746_10153336392799699_7381999019693997149_nI have had the pleasure of meeting Jack Parkin some time ago and we share many values. After several conversions with him I am happy to announce that he will be talking the lead of BWAction at this point. He has some wonderful visions for our district and building a community.  I am honored that he is willing to make BWAction part of his vision and ask you all to provide Jack with your ideas and thoughts.  Jack has formed a group on Facebook that I encourage you to join.

Jack will be taking BWAction to the next level. I will be taking a back seat to BWAction for the time being as Jack takes the reigns.

Thank you all for support and reading BWAction. I hope you continue to help this site thrive and provide valuable information to our community.

As a reminder, this site is a personal site and has NO connection with the school district or school board. This site is just NOW two fathers working to build community.

Thank you

Lou Rainaldi

‘What are you doing for others?’ – #MLKDay #INSPIRE

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There are 3 Board Committee meetings this week at 6:00 PM prior to the start of the second Board Meeting. Please help out and attend the meetings.

  • Audit and Finance Committee
  • Athletics and Student Activities Committee
  • Community Development and Advancement Committee

– See more at: http://www.bwschools.net/District/News/17478-District-Seeking-Committee-Volunteers.html#sthash.ilreAVdd.dpuf

“Life’s most persistent and urgent questions is,
‘What are you doing for others?'”

-Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

 

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

-Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

-Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

 

 

Baldwin Student Creates 2nd Show to benefit Make-A-Wish

Tonight and tomorrow Mikayla Davic’s “Murder on 34th Street” which is a murder mystery musical set in New York City in the 1960s will be performed.

This year’s show, “Murder on 34th Street,” is a murder mystery musical set in New York City in 1960 and will be performed by a cast of 45 students from kindergarten through ninth grade on Jan. 6, 8 and 9.

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yoursouthhills/yoursouthhillsmore/9614336-74/mikayla-murder-baldwin#ixzz3weiXovrX
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

Mikayla did an amazing job last year with a music and has set a goal to raise $50,000 for Make-A-Wish by the time she graduates Baldwin High School.

Let’s help her achieve this goal and support our children and community.