Class begins Monday in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District, and there are some new faces.
After an overhaul of administrative staff that began in May, Superintendent Randal Lutz is ready to start the school year.
Walt Graves, 50, is the new principal at Baldwin High School with a salary of $112,000.
He served as the South Western High School principal since 2003. The West Mifflin native moved to York County 19 years ago to gain his first administrative job as the assistant principal at Hanover High School.
Graves replaces Kevin O’Toole, who was hired at Baldwin in 2010. O’Toole took a leave of absence for the 2012 spring semester and resigned in June. The nature of his absence was not disclosed. John Wolicki served as interim principal.
“The lack of leadership due to turnover has not been fair to any of (the staff or students),” Lutz said. “This is something I really look forward to.”
Graves started at Baldwin on Aug. 15 and already is embracing the school district’s theme — “We Are One.”
Graves said he is enthusiastic about learning. “I love being around kids and just learning the Baldwin culture. I’m excited to get on board with the staff and to learn the Highlander way.”
Graves will set up a principal’s blog to update parents and the community on student successes throughout the school year. Once the blog is complete, information will be posted on the school website and mailed to parents, he said.
Shift in philosophy
Jill Fleming-Salopek was hired as an assistant principal at J.E. Harrison Middle in the last change to an administrative team that started coming together in June.
The school board eliminated the dean-of-students positions at Baldwin and J. E. Harrison Middle School held by Pete Wagner Jr. and Mike Voelker, respectively. Both will remain as teachers and football coaches.
“Mrs. Fleming-Salopek’s background in teaching and instructional coaching, she’s just very strong curriculum-wise,” Lutz said. “As good as the dean of students position could have been, they can’t be those things.”
Assistant principals have the ability to evaluate and assess teacher performances, which will assist the district in the new teacher-evaluation model implemented by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the 2013-14 school year. The Educator Effectiveness Model now will consider student success as 50 percent of the evaluation and also involve classroom observations.
Fleming-Salopek, 41, of Munhall, served as an assistant principal at Steel Valley High School for the 2012-13 school year. She has a long track record with the school district where she began teaching in 1996. She earned her administration certification from California University of Pennsylvania when she was furloughed as a teacher in 2011.
“During this time, I was working with the children and teachers of Baldwin-Whitehall at the elementary level. That’s where I first struck an interest for the district,” Fleming-Salopek said.
Fleming-Salopek began her post on Aug. 15 with a starting salary of $79,000 after turning down a full-time principal position at Steel Valley Middle School. She will join principal Mike Wetmiller and assistant principal Scott Ross.
John Saras, 37, filled the vacant assistant principal position created by the elimination of the dean of students positions at the high school on July 1.
He joined assistant principals Janeed Peretin and Jonathon Peebles.
Saras taught geometry, algebra and pre-calculus at Harrison Middle School. He was the only internal candidate to apply for an administrative position.
Saras will work with the guidance counselors to ensure students are scheduled in the proper courses, implement school-safety measures and engage with parents and students to help carry out the superintendent’s goals.
Brittany Goncar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or [email protected].