The Feb. 11 Richfield Springs Central School (RSCS) board of education meeting was held in the school’s cafeteria and included budget presentations by head of building and grounds, Randy Moshier and Computer coordinator Jim Hill, but the topic on many minds was not building and grounds or technology in the next school year; it was the future of the RSCS football program.
“I don’t want the school to lose its identity or have RSCS lose football,” said one resident. “My son played it when he was going to school here and the numbers show we can have football. There is no reason why we should be looking at shared services with another school regarding football.”
Moshier’s budget presentation reflected the replacement of a 10-year-old lawn mower but remained proportionately in line with the economy based on increased cost of cleaning supplies and materials used by his department. Hill noted that seven additional classrooms will be wired and become “smart classrooms” within the school allowing wireless Internet access from those rooms. Cost of Powesrschool services will decrease due to the declining enrollment within the school.
Superintendent Robert Barraco answers questions during public session at the Feb. 11 meeting of the Richfield Springs Central School board of education. Pictured left to right: Teena Shypski,board clerk; Lisa VanWinkler, district treasurer; Therijo Climenhaga, assistant principal/athletic director; Penny Harrington, building principal; Robert Barraco, superintendent; and board of education members Tom Shypski, Nancy Brown, and Nancy Clickman. Also in attendance but not pictured were Jim Marzeski and Brad Smith. (Photo by Bruce Watson)
A computer technician will be contracted through BOCES for three days every two weeks to allow the school’s technology system to be learned and understood should Hill retire within the next few years. Two new copiers are being installed and they will be networked to the school’s inhouse computer system so that large printing jobs can be printed on the copiers rather than printed with desktop laser printers located in classrooms.
In other business, the Zone Youth Center will be offering after school tutoring on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons in the near future and has asked the school to provide transportation to the location on Walnut and Ann Street for students wishing to avail themselves of that service.
Assistant principal Therijo Climenhaga noted there is an interest in modified track this spring for seventh and eighth graders, and if a coach is found that sport may be offered.
Other items disseminated to the public were that Parents as Reading Partners for elementary students will be held during the month of March; the 2009-2010 budget will be approved at the March 25 board meeting; thirty-one seniors will be participating in the Class of 2009 senior trip to Virginia Beach; and there will be no school for students on March 20 which is a Superintendents’ Conference Day.
During the public comments section of the meeting it was noted that the reaction from spectators at basketball games has been very positive when they learn that RSCS is not charging spectators for admission at home sporting events. Bethann Hammer, Lisa VanWinkler, and Pam Preston were thanked for their chaperoning at athletic games this winter and the administration team was thanked for trying to make sure at least one of them was at most of the junior varsity and varsity games basketball games during the winter sports season.
Tina Gage spoke in support of the football program and questioned recent discussions on merging the varsity program with a neighboring school. “If you merge, there are going to be kids from Richfield Springs who don’t make the team. I want football to stay here in Richfield Springs. Even if my sons didn’t play football, I would work to keep football at RSCS,” he said.
Superintendent Robert Barraco explained that an effective football program should have a progressive skill building program comprised of modified, junior varsity, and varsity teams. Richfield Springs has eliminated the junior varsity step in that program and has caused students to become at risk for injuries. “Having fourteen year old boys pay varsity against eighteen year olds and resulting in our prayers suffering concussions and injuries because they have to play both offense and defense is not safe,” Barraco said.
Parent Susan Jansen recapped the fall 2008 football season and said that halfway through the season the varsity team had to get used to a new coach and that basing the decision to merge football on the most recent season was unfair. She also asked in these economic times is this a time to be awarding raises to administrators and staff, and questioned, “Does our enrollment merit the number of employees and what do all the teacher aides do that the district employs? Program cuts affect kids. In a school of 580 students can we support administrators that make over $400,000 dollars in salaries and benefits?”
Principal Penny Harrington said there is a difference between teaching assistants and teacher aides and the district has very few teacher aides. Teaching assistants are sometimes mandated because of special education classroom needs. Board of education president Shypski explained that contracts for salaries of staff have been negotiated and those increases have been agreed upon and cannot change. A request was made by a member of the public to poll the board regarding their individual feelings about football and Shypski pointed out that the Board will not be individually polled in public session on any issue.
Community member Janet Sylvester pointed out, “We have a tennis court, yet no tennis team; we have eliminated cross country, volleyball, participation in wrestling. Before long there will be nothing for the students to do at RSCS.” Barraco pointed out that student participation has cut those programs, not the board or administration. “Not all students participate in sports. Currently the number of girls signing up for softball is low and there is a possibility that that sport won’t be held this spring. The board and administration are not cutting these sports; the lack of interest and participation on the part of the students is cutting the sports,” Barraco said.
The next meeting of the RSCS board of education will be held on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria.