Tuesday, November 2 2021

NEW BETHLEEM – After several months of discussions and meetings, an agreement regarding extracurricular fundraising requirements has finally been reached between officials of the Redbank Valley school district and the district sports promotion organization.

At their regular meeting Monday night, Redbank Valley School Board members approved the Sports Facilitator Contribution Plan which was designed as an alternative to the district’s 15 percent fundraising requirement.

“I think it’s a good compromise,” District Superintendent Amy Rupp said after the Contribution Plan meeting.

According to Rupp, the plan includes a cap agreement with district booster clubs to regulate money spent on equipment and supplies for after-school activities.

“We’ll pay the first $ 1,000 for most sports,” said Rupp, noting that boys and girls volleyball, wrestling and basketball will receive $ 1,500 and soccer $ 2,000. “Everything they have to pay for themselves. “

She added that this move will save the district more than $ 15,000 per year.

“It has nothing to do with uniforms or travel or referees / referees, we [still] pay for it all, ”she said.

Likewise, boosters are responsible for tournament registration fees and overtime for goalies who work during weekend activities.

“If they have a tournament or something like that, they will pay their own fees and their own goalies,” she said, adding that the groups will also be negotiating for lawn mowing services at Hawthorn’s Pottery Field, where the football teams train. These three items will save an additional $ 5,000.

The deal also allows sponsors to purchase advertisements from RVTV Live for streaming games, as well as partnerships with sponsors for signs in the gymnasium and around off the field.

“We can certainly get funds that way,” Rupp said, noting that the combined sponsorship opportunities are expected to bring in an additional $ 10,000.

All told, Rupp said, the district could save about $ 30,000 under the deal.

Rupp noted that the implementation of the agreement will eventually replace the 15 percent fee levied on extracurricular activities that was enacted four years ago.

“We’re going to wait and talk with the boosters a bit more before removing this policy from the policy manual,” she said. “It will probably be done in November. “

Ahead of the vote, board member Jason Barnett raised a question about the wisdom of acting before the board has a letter of agreement from the boosters.

“I would like a letter of commitment from them that they would like to try to move forward with this,” he said. “I would like him to specify the part of the responsibility of who is going to do what, otherwise we are just wasting time.”

Linda Ferringer, a board member, responded by pointing out that a lot of time and effort had gone into working together to formulate the plan.

“It’s kind of a fish or cut time bait,” she said. “Either you want to do it or you don’t. “

In the end, Barnett and member Darren Bain voted against the motion.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, council overheard two district residents talk about the stalled negotiations and the ongoing teachers’ strike.

Madison Moore, a recent Redbank graduate and daughter of a district teacher, said she was “extremely disappointed” with the way the board chose to treat staff.

“Terminating the insurance of a group of people during a pandemic is a deplorable and retaliatory decision,” she said.

Urging the board to move to voluntary non-binding arbitration, Moore appealed to the reputation of the district.

“Every district likes to be known for the records they hold. One record that should embarrass the district is to hold the distinction of taking the most years to settle a contract, ”she said, saying Redbank holds the record by taking six years to settle a contract.

Another resident to address the council was Julie Veronesi, a district teacher, who explained how a wage freeze affects employees.

“I have been teaching for 15 years and I am currently earning the salary that a teacher who has taught for 12 years would earn,” she said, noting that this is her salary for three years. “If we accept a two-year salary freeze, I will be a 17-year-old teacher and earn the salary of a 12-year-old teacher.

Speaking on the council’s decision to cancel teachers ‘health insurance on October 1, Veronesi said teachers were only given 72 hours’ notice before benefits ended.

“To date (Monday), no teacher has received a request for COBRA benefits, which would extend their coverage during this cessation of benefits,” she said. “Since the district has not provided [a 30-day] notice, he may be held financially responsible for any costs that may have been incurred by teachers during this window of time.

She urged members of all stripes to assess their emotions when making decisions.

Mitch Blose, a New Bethlehem school board candidate and business owner, also addressed the board, saying he believed the Redbank Valley community was “20 years behind on the financial side of things.”

“The biggest problem is the financial side of things,” he said. “I think it’s important to note that the main issue here is not necessarily the relationship between the board, the community and the teachers.

Blose also said there was confusion in the Redbank Valley community due to mixed messages from the district and teachers regarding the strike, and said he spoke to community members who ” do not support the strike “.

“As a board, I think you are doing well for the community for the most part,” he said. “Obviously I think there are issues on both sides.”

• The modified school calendar for the 2021-22 school year following the strike was presented and approved. Subject to a return date of October 20 for students, the school will be closed Thursday November 25 for Thanksgiving Day and Friday December 24 for Christmas Eve.

The last student day is currently set for June 15, 2022. If the school is canceled due to bad weather, classes will be held remotely.

“The state ordered the district to have the last day on June 15 in case the teachers go out. [on strike] again, ”Rupp said after the meeting. “That would give us until June 30 to complete our 180 days.”

• Council members approved the expenses of the ESSR III funds as presented.

Rupp pointed out that the proposal includes several education-related purchases, including costs associated with after-school tutoring ($ 100,000), homework help ($ 40,000), two permanent replacements through ESS (130 $ 000) and more.

• Approval was given to contracts between the district and Minich Bus Services, Valley Lines Inc. and Barrett Busing Inc. for student transportation for the current school year.

• The second readings of the district policies on trauma informed care, threat assessment and comparability of Title I services, as well as the first reading of the facility designation / sponsorship policy were approved.

• The resignations of paraprofessional Kim Reichard, effective September 30, and men’s basketball assistant coach Dan Ion have been accepted.

In a related motion, Jake Dougherty was hired as an assistant men’s basketball coach at a total cost of $ 3,632.52, and Ion and Wayne Fuller were approved as volunteers.

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