Covid-19 Concerns Dominate School District

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. by: John Gerow (RVO) – Coronavirus protection and mitigation discussions dominated the regular June meeting of the Redbank Valley School Board. Overarching the normal, necessary planning for the start of a new school year, the district administrators must frame all their work and planning with, as of yet, incomplete guidance on Covid safety and mitigation from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Amid great uncertainty, the administrators are striving to maintain a semblance of normalcy in these most challenging of times. Much of the actual mechanics are unclear, however, in keeping with PIAA guidelines, spectators will not be allowed at games when the school year starts.

In their first order of business, the Board unanimously approved applying for over $333,000 of grant money for health and security related to the Covid – 19. The grants are available through the PDE and funded by the federal government’s CARES Act passed earlier this year in response to the pandemic. The district will use these monies to purchase touchless faucets, water bottle filling stations, touchless temperature scanners, additional cleaning and sanitizing supplies, and Personal Protective Equipment. District Supervisor John Mastillo says that this grant money, if approved will bring all three buildings up to suggested health standards.

The District is developing a plan with procedures and protocols that will meet PDE guidelines, which are based on current Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Dr. Mastillo pointed out several times that these CDC and PDE guidelines are still under development and that no one can be sure exactly what things will look like on the first day of school. He reported that he will be meeting with the Athletic Director and Coaches to get summer training up to guidelines set by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) and the Keystone Athletic Conference (KSAC). As with the classroom guidelines, there is significant uncertainty as to what scholastic sports will look like this coming year. However, the Board adopted a motion to approve the PK – 12 Athletics Health and safety Plan as presented.

In a follow up conversation on Tuesday, Board President Bill Reddinger told RVO that Dr. Mastillo has published a letter to parents on the District’s website. Please follow this link: When queried about the Athletic Health and Safety Plan, Mr. Reddinger also said that as the Plan was presented, spectators will not be allowed at games.

Kindergartners using the “Sensory Hall” August 2019 Courtesy Tech Ready Professionals

In other matters, the Board approved the following for school hours at the different buildings: Primary School: Staff 8:00 am – 3:30 pm Students 8:00 am – 2:30 pm
Intermediate School: Staff 8:00 am – 3:30 pm Students 8:00 am – 2:35 pm
High School: Staff 7:45 am – 3:30 pm Students 8:00 am – 2:46 pm.
The Directors also approved reconfiguring the schools to be Pre K – 2nd Grade as Primary school, 3rd – 5th Grades Intermediate School, and 6th – 12th Grades as Junior/Senior High School.

The Board approved a budget projecting $18,645,193.11 in spending. This projection also includes the $330,000 CARES grant money. Those monies will also be added into the District’s revenue, resulting in a “wash entry”.
The Board approved hiring Ms. Anita Otero as the Superintendent’s Confidential Secretary at a salary of $28,000 and a benefit package of nearly$13,000. The Board also hired Megan Nolf as Assistant HS Soccer Coach at $2,745.08 in salary and benefits.

Redbank Valley School District provides education services for the 165 square mile area of New Bethlehem and Hawthorn boroughs, and the townships of Mahoning, Madison, Porter, and Redbank of both Clarion and Armstrong counties.

The Redbank Valley School Board meetings the first Monday of every month at 7pm at the High School Library.

For more information about the Redbank Valley School District, please call 814.275.2426 or visit

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