NEW BETHLEHEM – Sandwiched between two executive sessions at Monday night’s meeting of the Redbank Valley School Board were some personnel actions and discussion about changes in the 2019-2020 Parent/Student Handbook that outlined penalties for violation of the district’s tobacco and vaping policy.

High School Principal Amy Rupp explained that the handbook bans the use or possession of all tobacco products, “look-alikes,” vaping supplies and paraphernalia from school property.

The first offense includes a 30-day suspension from a sport or other extracurricular activity. A second offense triggers a calendar-year suspension from the activity. Additional punishments, depending on the level of offense, could include an in-school suspension. The first possession is a three-day suspension.

While the handbook covers all extracurricular activities, most of the discussion from the board centered on the impact of school athletes. Board members Jason Barnett, Dee Bell and Darren Bain all raised questions on the impact on the athletes. Depending on the sport, a 30-day suspension could mean the end of the season for the athlete. A suspension could also trigger a lack of interest in classes and jeopardize their future.

In addition to school policy, tobacco and vaping are illegal.

The board did approve the new handbook with a 7-1 vote. Bain cast the lone vote in opposition.

Other Action Included:

• Hired Lyndsey Blystone as a guidance counselor rate of $44,457 at MS Step One. Total cost of the employee is $70,620.

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• Hired Julie Aaron as a musical-Dramatics director at a total cost is $3,359.

• Hired Larry Ortz as a 260-day custodian/maintenance employee at a starting hourly rate of $12 for a total estimated cost is $48,521.

• Hired Gretchen Fenstermaker as a 182-day custodian employee at a starting hourly rate of $10 at a total estimated costs are $36,804.

• Appointed Cheryl Motter as board secretary at a cost of $300 a month stipend. The total cost is $4,065.

• Hired Angela Stewart as speech pathologist for the extended school year rate of $32.61 an hour for a total of 15 hours and a total wage of $552. The total cost is $623.

• Rescinded a vote from May 6 to enter into an agreement with Ignite Education Solutions for a part-time speech pathologist. The rescission was the result of a grievance filed. The vote passed 7-1, with Jason Barnett casting the no vote.

• A motion to grant permission to the superintendent to advertise for part-time, three-days-per-week speech pathologist at an anticipated salary of $26,903 for a total cost of $48,972 failed with a 1-7 vote. Board president Dr. Chad Shaffer voted in favor of the motion.

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