NEW BETHLEHEM – The college in high school program sparked discussion among members of the Redbank Valley School Board during its October meeting.

In her report to the board at Monday night’s meeting, Redbank Valley High School principal Amy Rupp informed board members of the status of college in high school courses offered at RVHS.

“Mount Aloysius [College] for this year has approved Biology II, Chemisty II, AP English and AP Government,” Rupp told board members, noting that biology and chemistry are four-credit courses, while English and government are three-credit courses.

Currently, according to Rupp, 61 of the 78 high school students taking the four courses are enrolled in the college in high school program.

“Some of these students will leave this year with 14 [college] credits by taking these four courses,” she said.

Rupp also said that high school foreign language teacher Pam Liberato contacted Seton Hill University to get German III and IV and Spanish III approved as college-level courses through their program.

She further noted that the high school is considering a community college in Butler and another recommended by district superintendent Dr. John Mastillo for future contacts.

In response to the report, board president Dr. Chad Shaffer voiced a concern raised by a parent of a former Redbank Valley student who said that students graduating from other high schools were able to accumulate more college credits than Redbank by participating in college in high school programs.

“Where we’ve come so far is great,” Shaffer said. “I don’t want to just sit there and take another five or 10 years before we make another step.”

Rupp pointed out that because the curriculum at the high school has been cut by 42 courses over the last three years, Redbank can’t compete with other schools’ offerings.

Board member Jason Barnett asked if all college in high school classes were taught by RVHS faculty.

Rupp indicated that students have the additional choice to take classes at Clarion University during the summer or in the school year taught by university faculty.

“We have students who are taking a psychology or sociology class now during a study hall,” she said. She explained, however, that while the credits transfer, they are not weighted credits. “That frees them up...so they can take another science or math.”

Board members expressed their desire that information regarding college in high school opportunities be intentionally distributed to students and parents so everyone has an opportunity to make an informed decision.

“We can have a child with great aptitude and great motivation, but if the parents are busy on other matters or don’t know there are references, their child may not get the same opportunities,” Shaffer said.

Other Business

• The board authorized the purchase of a visitor/student information maintenance program system (Raptor) in the amount of $5,784.

Members also approved a $47,947.38 purchase of educational materials to replace items lost in the July flood.

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• Approval was given for the establishment of a travel club at the high school advised by high school social studies teacher Dr. Joe Harmon.

• Contracts were approved between the Redbank Valley School District and STA Inc., Minich Bus Services, Valley Lines Inc. and Barrett Busing for student transportation for the 2019-20 school year.

• David Hepler was hired as a secondary math teacher at a salary of $43,288 for a total cost to the district of $69,367.

• The resignation of district special education supervisor Brittany Nowacki was accepted in an 8-1 vote — with board member Dr. Donald Nair casting the lone opposition vote.

• Bobbi McGuire was hired as a four-hour cafeteria aide for 182 days at an annual salary of $6,552, for a total cost of $7,398.

Elizabeth Evans was hired as a four-and-a-half-hour cafeteria food handler for 182 days at an annual salary of $8,190, for a total cost of $9,247.

Both women were hired pending that all background clearances are acceptable.

• Alyssa Burkett was hired as junior high cheerleading coach at a total cost of $2,399. Board member Carrie Adams voted against the motion.

• Megan Nolf was approved as a volunteer high school girls soccer coach.

• Barnett mentioned that the Fact Finding report was finished, and recommended that the board take a formal vote to accept or reject the report. No motion was made.

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