NEW BETHLEHEM – Psychology and security were two points of concern Monday evening for the Redbank Valley School Board.
At their monthly meeting on Nov. 5, board members unanimously approved to hire Suzann Erickson as the full-time school psychologist for the Redbank Valley School District.
Erickson, who has been serving as the district’s part-time psychologist since the beginning of the school year, applied for the full-time position after it was posted by the district following last month’s meeting.
“We’ve had the opportunity to see her performance,” school board president Dr. Chad Shaffer said of Erickson following the meeting. He explained that Erickson has been working closely with district special education director Brittany Nowaki, who joined the district around the same time as Erickson. “They’ve developed a good team.”
The school board’s decision to transition the part-time psychologist position to full-time came at the recommendation of acting superintendent Dan Hawkins at the October board meeting.
Redbank Valley School District superintendent Dr. John Mastillo said Monday afternoon that having a full-time school psychologist would not only be “financially advantageous” for the district in the long run, but would also provide continuity for the students.
“I believe that having this position [full-time] in-house will provide better services to our students,” he said, noting that as a full-time psychologist Erickson will be able to better familiarize herself with the needs of the students.
Erickson was hired at a total salary of $64,025.
In response to separate concerns raised by board members Darren Bain and Bill Reddinger, the school board discussed the need to evaluate the district’s current security procedures.
Reddinger voiced concern about the office secretaries’ inability to properly monitor alarms on many of the doors throughout the high school.
Bain’s concern stemmed from a report that a parent or visitor entered one of the schools with a bag that was not inspected by school police officers.
“I think that’s troublesome,” Bain said, noting that the district should get certain services for the amount it’s paying the security company. “I think that should be a core requirement of their [the school police officers] job”
The board then turned its attention to security procedures and evaluation.
“I know we had different feelings on the expense of security officers, [but] I think we have to evaluate whether that money is being well spent, or if that money could be spent better other places,” board member Jason Barnett said. He added that while he doesn’t know what the evaluation should look like, there is a need for the district to assess the effectiveness of the system.
Board members are to submit suggestions and concerns to the school security committee.
Bain also requested a formal report from the administration on the workings of district security for the next meeting.
In other security concerns, Redbank Valley resident Joe Belfield pointed out that in several visits to different district buildings he has yet to encounter a security guard.
“Something you might want to consider when you evaluate the security officers is are they actually protecting the school?” Belfield said.
• In a unanimous vote, the board granted permission for administrators to obtain quotes for testing lead levels in district drinking water.
According to Mastillo, the testing will be done in compliance with state recommendations that all districts have their water tested.
“It’s not an issue at this point, and I don’t anticipate it being an issue,” Mastillo said of the district’s water supply.
• After a lengthy discussion, a motion to create and advertise for a two-and-a-half hour cafeteria cashier position at the high school was tabled.
• The resignations of part-time high school Spanish teacher, substitute English teacher William Weaver, and child specific aide Vicki Miller were accepted.
• Vickie Minich was added to the substitute nurse and cafeteria aide lists.
• Members unanimously voted to deny a grievance dated Oct. 3 and presented to the board Nov. 1.