NEW BETHLEHEM – Two administrative hirings topped the agenda at a special meeting of the Redbank Valley School board on Tuesday, July 31.

In a 6-3 vote, the nine school board members officially hired Dan Hawkins, who retired from his post as Brockway Area School District superintendent at the end of the 2017-18 school year, as the district’s acting superintendent until a full-time chief administrator is hired.

Board members Dee Bell, Darren Bain and Bill Reddinger voted against the hire.

Explaining his no vote, school board member Dee Bell told his fellow board members that his decision was based solely on the expense the district will incur as a result of the hiring.

“We’re already running in place and never getting ahead,” Bell said, noting that his vote was not a vote against Hawkins personally. “I’m sure he’s a great guy. I’ll work with him and support him any way I can.”

Bell said that he couldn’t support the added cost when the superintendent duties could continue to be covered by high school principal Amy Rupp, who has been filling the position of acting superintendent since former superintendent Mike Drzewiecki’s unexpected departure on June 30.

Drzewiecki served as Redbank Valley’s superintendent of schools since 2010.

When Hawkins begins his duties at Redbank Valley next week, Rupp explained following the meeting that she will return to her position as high school principal, but will aid in the transition.

According to a story published in the Courier Express covering the announcement of Hawkins’ retirement from Brockway, the new interim superintendent has had a long and distinguished career in education.

During the course of his 37-year career, Hawkins served as a special education and emotional support teacher at the Intermediate Unit, before moving to the position of special education supervisor where he managed 40 teachers in Brockway, DuBois and Punxsutawney. From there, Hawkins became an assistant principal at DuBois Area Junior High School. He then had the opportunity to move to director of special education, and eventually became the principal at DuBois Area Middle School. He served in that position until 2009, when he moved to the Brockway Area School District as the superintendent.

According to the terms of Hawkins’ contract with the district, he will receive $500 per diem for up to 15 days per month. Rupp said Hawkins was the only candidate interviewed for the position.

“Mr. Hawkins is a perfect fit for our needs right now, having had extensive experience and success leading a comparably-sized district and recently led a superintendent search,” board president Chad Shaffer said last Friday. “Mrs. Rupp has done a terrific job at the helm over the past month and will continue to be an important leader as principal. Moving forward, the board has begun taking applications for superintendent and has allowed me to investigate whether sharing a superintendent is a viable option.”

Redbank Valley is accepting applications for a full-time superintendent through Aug. 24, Rupp noted on Wednesday.

In other administrative business at last Tuesday’s meeting, the board unanimously approved the hiring of Brittany Nowacki as the district’s full-time special education supervisor at a salary of $72,000 and a total cost of $90,560.

Rupp explained following the meeting that in her new role, Nowacki will be responsible for the supervision of the special education department, including overseeing all legal aspects of IEPs and making sure “all students are being served in the least restrictive environment.”

This service was previously contracted through Riverview Intermediate Unit 6.

In other business, during the work session preceding the special meeting, board members heard comments and questions from coaches and parents regarding ongoing issues with security protocol.

Following a presentation regarding the installation of door buzzers, a lengthy and often heated discussion ensued.

No action on the matter was taken by the board.

Other Business

• The following child specific aides were hired at $12.02 per hour: Christina Hetrick, $9,736; Bethany Sebring, $36,203; Vicki Miller, $36,203; Jaime Sherbine, $36,203; and Cearra Strothers, $12,982.

• An agreement with ARIN Intermediate Unit 28 for payroll services was approved. The agreement did not change from a current contract with the Intermediate Unit for the same service.

• The board accepted a bid from Jefferson Paving for sealing the parking lots at a cost of $27,984.

• An agreement was also approved with current district business manager Stephanie Smith to transition a new business manager. Board members also approved a contract termination and release agreement with RIU6.

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