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‘Pay to Play’ Activities, Improved Communications Highlight Redbank Valley School Board Meeting

Saturday, July 15, 2017 @ 12:07 AM

Posted by John Gerow

redbank-schoolNEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT) – Despite some concerns voiced by residents, the Redbank Valley School Board moved forward with a scheme to have “pay to play” student activities raise a portion of their own costs. The plan which was first brought forward at a special meeting in June will ask the sports teams and their supporters to raise 15% of their season’s operating expenses.

During the public concern portion of the meeting, rescheduled to July 10th (for the 4th of July holiday), Dianna Bain, speaking on behalf of herself and Heather Gourley, asked the board to consider eliminating the 15% cost share and work with the Boosters Club to find alternative ways to raise additional activity funding. Mrs. Bain pointed out the Boosters, who are taxpayers, parents, and family members of students, have contributed significantly to the sports programs over the years, notably procuring the scoreboards, poles vault runway, and recognition board among other purchases. Jason Kundick also spoke and reminded the board that there are possibilities for raising money through naming grants. Granting naming rights to companies or individuals for significant donations would require a district policy change. He also pointed out that coaches are not currently involved purchasing, having their input could save a significant amount of money. Off-season purchasing could also save a lot of money, Mr. Kundick pointed out. Darren Bain asked the assembled board members why they had chosen to vote on the 15% cost share before talking to the Boosters. He also suggested the district consider setting “seasons” for fundraising so as not to overwhelm and “burn out” donors in the community.

Board President Chad Shaffer ended the work session before the meeting by repeating his call for the district to develop channels of communication with parents, taxpayers, and the general public. He asked the board members to give thought to how the board can work to keep the community up-to-date on their activities and actions. Shaffer said that he was envisioning a regular flow of information into the community, using a format that would almost automatically trigger press releases when certain activities or events take place. There was also some general discussion, at this point, about restructuring the meeting to move the Public Concerns to the beginning of the work session, thereby giving the board members an opportunity to discuss resident’s concerns when they are brought forward. Dr. Shaffer contends that improving communication between the district and the community, and developing a way to address public concerns immediately, would serve the community well.

During the regular meeting, Primary and Intermediate Schools Principal Cheryl McCauley reported that federal funding under Title I & Title II would be initially increasing by $39,000.00 for school year 2017 – 2018. McCauley also reported that Title IV funding would also be increasing by $10,000.00. In answering a question about the structure of the funding, Mrs. McCauley said that Title I spending is based upon “census poor” or the percentage of income households in the district. She also pointed out that all of the Title I funding will go to faculty training, faculty salaries, and 2018 summer school. Federal funding is re-evaluated about half way through the school year, necessitating a certain flexibility in expense planning in certain areas.

District Maintenance Supervisor John Sayers reported to the board that all of the hot air hand dryers have been installed in all of the district’s buildings. (The suggestion to install hand dryers originated with a primary achool classroom discussion and request to the school board.) He also reported that all of the bathrooms in the high school building were now isolated and independent of one another, allowing for any individual bathroom to cut off from water without having to cut off the water in the entire building in the event of necessary repairs.

District Superintendent Mike Drzewiecki led a discussion about hiring an additional crossing guard for the Route 28 crossing in front of the high school. The district has been communicating with the New Bethlehem Police for that crossing. The district could save about $360.00 by hiring a crossing guard. When questioned by members of the board, Mr. Drzewiecki said that it was his opinion that it was worth the extra money to have the police presence at the crossing.

Board member Tina Kennemuth asked if the cost cutting committee was going continue to function. In response to President Shaffer’s affirmative answer, Mrs. Kennemuth suggested that Mrs. Kopnitsky serve as co-chair through the remainder of this term as Mrs. Kennemuth is not running for re-election. Kennemuth said that setting up a co-chair situation will ensure continuity into the next term. President Shaffer asked Kennemuth and Kopnitsky to work out the details before the next meeting.

In a final bit of business, Vice President Brian Dougherty made a motion that a request for bids on repairing the track be gathered so that the board can begin studying how best to renovate the track. Daugherty’s motion passed by acclimation.

In other business:

– The Board approved changes to the student – parent handbooks.

– The District will sell 120 HP 6730 computers.

– The District approved ethics hotline procedures.

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