Lehigh Valley

Security officers may return to Bethlehem district middle schools

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - A police presence could soon find its way back into the Bethlehem Area School District's four middle schools, and security could be beefed up at Liberty High School, thanks to a federal grant.

The school board gave Supt. Dr. Joseph Roy the go-ahead Monday night to encourage Bethlehem police to pursue the three-year grant.

Starting next school year, the city and the school district would each pay $60,000 a year -- a total of 25 percent of the cost -- to have the resource officers at the five schools, Roy explained, calling the prospect "a tremendous bonus" for the district.

"You can't beat it," said board member Michelle Cann. "I'm all for it."

Roy said he believed he would look for savings in the 2013-14 budget to pay the district's share for the officers.

He pointed out that the money would be readily available if the federal grant would also pick up 75 percent of the $80,000-$85,000 the district now pays toward a resource officer at Liberty.

Roy said after the meeting that the number of security officers at the middle schools was cut from four to two in the 2010-2011 budget, and from two to zero in the following year's spending plan.

In other business, the board was told it would cost the Bethlehem district $20,307 to participate in a dependent eligibility audit by Health Management Systems.

The audit will make sure everyone on the district's health-care plan is eligible to receive benefits, said Stacy Gober, assistant to the superintendent for finance and administration.

The board will vote on the audit at its May 20 meeting.

Proposals for the audit were solicited by Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 over the last several months. Twenty proposals were received and three companies were interviewed before Health Management Systems was selected for a $89,734 contract.

Gober said if Health Management doesn't save the district twice the amount of the district's share of the contract, the company will refund the fee.

School board member Irene Follweiler praised Gober for coming up with "another creative way to save us money. ... I don't see a downside."

The board was told by Gober that school breakfast and lunch prices will increase by 10 cents next school year.

Elementary breakfast will go from $1.45 to $1.55 and secondary breakfast from $1.55 to $1.65. The cost of an adult breakfast will rise from $2.10 to $2.20.

Elementary lunch will go from $2.25 to $2.35 and secondary lunch from $2.45 to $2.55. The price of an adult lunch will be $3.45, up from $3.35.

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