NEW BETHLEHEM – The start of a new era has begun for the Redbank Valley, as a new superintendent has assumed the reigns in the Redbank Valley School District.
At their regular meeting last Tuesday evening, members of the Redbank Valley School Board unanimously approved a three-year contract with former high school principal Amy Rupp to serve as district superintendent.
Rupp, who most recently served as substitute and then acting superintendent following the retirement of former superintendent Dr. John Mastillo this past June, is not only the first internal hire to fill the position in several years, but is also the first woman to hold the highest administrative position in the district’s history.
“We feel that Amy is very well suited to fill the position,” school board president Bill Reddinger said after the meeting, noting that Rupp is familiar with the district, its needs and the board’s wants. “We hope that she will be able to address the academics and keep financial stability in the district moving forward.”
According to Reddinger, Rupp was selected from a pool of four candidates who were interviewed for the position.
“We anticipate that she will create a new mood of openness within the district,” he said. “The staff seemed to be excited, and hopefully that will flow over into the public and we can have a sense of trust again.”
Rupp, who was first hired at Redbank in 2015, has 24 years of experience in education, 15 of which have been in administration.
“I’ve wanted to be in education since I was a child,” Rupp said last week, adding that she used to set up classrooms for dolls in her mother’s attic as a child.
Rupp earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, before completing her master’s degree in educational leadership at Shippensburg University. Later, she attended California University of Pennsylvania where she earned her superintendent letter of eligibility.
Currently, Rupp is finishing her doctorate in educational leadership from California University of Pennsylvania where her research focuses on the impact of principal turnover on student achievement, professional development and school culture.
Rupp lives in a neighboring school district with her husband and two children. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, crafting and volunteering with the Aiden Rupp Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides swimming lessons to children at no cost.
“I am beyond excited to be a part of a transformation in school climate and academic achievement,” Rupp stated in a letter to district families following her hire. “I have high hopes that together we will make a difference in our schools, our community and the lives of our students.”
Outlining her goals for the 2021-22 school year, Rupp said she plans to “provide instructional leadership to the principal and staff of Redbank Valley Intermediate and High schools as well as support strategies and interventions that will improve the School Performance Profile rating by the completion of the 2021-22 school year.”
In addition, she said she will “provide instructional leadership to building principals and ongoing oversight of the performance of each district school with the goal of maintaining or improving School Performance Profile ratings” through the completion of the current year.
Rupp also said she will “oversee the implementation of a teacher and principal effectiveness evaluation system within the district that includes student achievement and aligns to state expectations.”
Her final goals include the implementation of a plan to open communication between teachers, staff, board and community through regular communication, an updated website and feedback, as well as the research, recommendation and board approval of five-year plans for maintenance and budgeting beginning with the 2021-22 school year.
“I feel like I can make a positive difference in the lives of our students and the people in the community,” she said. “There have been many changes in the past few years, and I plan to bring cohesiveness, transparency and open communication to the district.”
Rupp’s hiring was approved in a 8-0 vote at the Sept. 7 meeting, with board member Dr. Chad Shaffer participating by phone. Member Carrie Adams was absent from the voting session.
The three-year contract is effective Sept. 7 through Sept. 6, 2024 at a salary of $122,000, for a total cost of $161,481.
In a related motion later in the meeting, board members also voted to post for a high school principal position. Roddy Hartle will continue to serve as acting high school principal while a search for a full-time replacement commences.
In other business at last Tuesday’s meeting, the board briefly discussed the in-classroom mask mandate and exemption letters returned and filed to the district offices.
According to elementary principal Sandy Shirey, 210 elementary parents have mask exemptions on file, which represents 47 percent of the elementary population.
Acting high school principal Roddy Hartle reported that 31 percent of the high school population have returned exemptions.
Board member Jason Barnett recommended that a letter be sent home to all district parents detailing the CDC’s quarantine guidelines in the event of masked/unmasked exposures.
• Approval was given for Gibson-Thomas Engineering of Greensburg to assess the primary school building’s structure and stability at no cost to the district.
Rupp explained that a corner of the New Bethlehem school has been sinking a quarter to a half inch each year.
“There are also some cracks in the building indicating some elevation issues,” she said. “We just want to make sure everything is sound.”
• The resignation of high school industrial arts teacher Patrick Bundy was accepted effective Nov. 15 or until a replacement is hired.
Board members then voted to hire Kevin Watkins to fill the soon-to-be-vacant position effective on or before Nov. 15 at a total annual cost of $77,493.82. Members Dr. Donald Nair and Ann Kopnitsky voted against the motion.
In addition, the resignations of district LPN Nicole Allshouse and paraeducator Stasha Misko were accepted.
Allshouse’s resignation is effective Sept. 10 or until a replacement is found. Misko’s resignation is effective Sept. 30.
• The following hires were approved: Brandy Rearick — LPN aide, effective Sept. 22 at a total cost of $45,879.45; Lisa Bowersox — special education aide, at a total cost of $12,390.46; Bill Troup — custodian, at a total cost of $40,199.04; Casey Sturgeon — junior high soccer coach, at a total cost of $1,700.
Matt Darrr was also approved as a volunteer coach for junior high soccer.
• The first readings of the district’s Trauma Informed Care, Threat Assessment and Title I Comparability of Services policies were approved.
• A contract was approved with KeySolution Staffing LLC for behavior specialist services at a total cost of $60,574.30.
Board member Dee Bell voted against the motion.
• The board also approved a contract with PSBA for policy update services using $6,800 in ESSERs funding paid over a two-year period.