July 12, 2011
Stever and Downey elected to lead Board of Education
Priorities include superintendent search, fiscal responsibility, academic excellence
At its July 6 meeting, the Bethlehem Central School District Board of Education unanimously elected Diane Giacone Stever as its president and Matt Downey as its vice president for the 2011-12 year.
New member Caitrin Navarro was also sworn-in that night, which served as the Board's annual reorganizational meeting.
Downey and Stever take the officer positions at a time when the Board is conducting a search for the next BC superintendent, as well as continuing to navigate a period of extreme economic challenges for schools everywhere.
The district’s reputation for academic excellence has continued through this time, with BC ranking first out of 85 school districts in the region in the most recent “Schools Report” published by The Business Review.
"We have a lot to be proud of in Bethlehem, and I am looking forward to working closely with my fellow Board members, the administration, and the community to continue this tradition of excellence,” said Stever, who was the Board’s vice president last year. "This is certainly a time of great change, but I can assure the community that our commitment to academic excellence and fiscal responsibility will stay the same.”
This summer, the Board and stakeholder groups that represent a cross section of the district will interview prospective superintendent candidates to succeed Dr. Michael Tebbano, who is retiring at the end of December 2011. Under the current timeline, the Board may announce the new superintendent by the time school starts in September.
"We are intensively focused on making sure that we hire the best person to lead BC into the future,” Stever said.
The Board has carefully managed its budget priorities over the past three years of dwindling state aid and difficult economic conditions. During this time, it has enacted a series of budget reductions and program adjustments; decided to close an elementary school and put the central office building on the market; and preserved programs to the greatest extent possible. The average tax levy increase during this three-year period has been 2.36 percent.
The new Board officers said they greatly appreciated the fact that each employee group volunteered some level of pay freeze for 2011-12, adding that the freezes were an important factor in helping to preserve programs while restraining taxes.
They noted that the newly passed state property tax cap is likely to be a factor in the budget development process.
“We will continue to focus on providing a high quality academic program for all students while spending only what is necessary to do so,” Downey said. “As always, we will involve the community, faculty, and staff members in these discussions.”
Stever and Downey said that when the decision was made to close Clarksville in March 2011, the Board's most immediate goal was to ensure a smooth transition for all students to their new schools. Likewise, they said they will keep the community informed about the process of marketing the central office building at 90 Adams Place for lease or sale.
Stever and Downey are each in their second terms on the Board of Education. Members serve volunteer, three-year terms.
Stever's term expires at the end of 2013. Downey was elected to his new term this past May, along with incumbent Laura Ladd Bierman and first-time candidate Navarro. Those three terms all expire at the end of June 2014.