Guest Speaker - Dr. Joseph Roy
Dr. Joseph J. Roy, Superintendent of Schools at the Bethlehem Area School District (BASD), was the guest speaker for the Downtown Bethlehem Rotary meeting on February 15th. He received his undergraduate degree from Franklin and Marshall College, his master’s degree from Bucknell University and his doctoral degree from Lehigh University. A lifelong educator, Dr. Roy held positions as a social studies teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent in several Pennsylvania school districts until the start of his tenure as BASD Superintendent in 2010. The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators honored Dr. Roy as the 2017 "Superintendent of the Year."
Quick facts about BASD:
  • 6th largest school district in Pennsylvania
  • 5th largest employer in Northampton County
  • 22 schools with almost 14,000 students
  • Largest district to first implement full-day kindergarten in 2015-16
  • Non-homestead properties generated $82.1 Million (51%) of BASD tax base.
  • Top 20+ Bethlehem properties paid $18+million in property taxes
  • The highest Bethlehem property paid $24,600 in taxes; the median paid $3,200.
  • Dr. Roy has 10,200 Twitter followers and actively uses Twitter as a direct form of communication with students and their families.
BASD continues to implement a number of key initiatives to benefit students and our community.
  • Roadmap to Educational Excellence is a framework for establishing goals for school improvement based on core learning, stretch learning, student engagement, and personal skill development.
  • Building early literacy skills lays the foundation for future educational success, yet many students enter kindergarten already behind. The Reading by Grade 3/Literacy Initiative along with universal full day kindergarten has produced student growth in literacy. The goal is to have all students become proficient readers by grade 3. Dr. Roy used a statistic from Lincoln Elementary School where they reduced the achievement gap. At the start of the year, only 38% of beginning students reached appropriate proficiency levels. By the end of the year, 90% reached appropriate proficiency levels. Children deemed proficient by third grade have more successful future outcomes, such as fewer special education needs and higher graduation rates.
  • Based on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Leader in Me program focuses on character development and builds leadership skills to decrease discipline problems and increase engagement among teachers and parents. 
  • United Way Community Schools help level the playing field for schools with a high poverty rate. BASD has 6 schools designated as community schools.
BASD has a number of common budget themes.
  • Controlled growth of local expenditures
  • Lack of adequate state funding
  • Charter school funding reform
  • BASD sends over $25 million per year to charter schools.
  • Charter school expenses continue to increase, while state funding has not.
  • Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) reform – pensions are high
Special thanks to MSR Shawn Deiter who was able to attend the meeting and provide a concise report for all.
Special thanks to Downtown Bethlehem President Gail Evans for extending an invitation to all MSR to attend.