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Track coach fired three days before States
By: GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
Warwick School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to terminate head high school track coach Scott Rathkey. He was also removed from his staff position in building services.
The vote took place during a special meeting called specifically for personnel items. District officials would not comment further on the circumstances surrounding Rathkey’s sudden removal.
"All personnel issues are confidential. The district will clarify, however, that this is unrelated to students," said Lori Zimmerman, public relations coordinator.
Lititz police confirmed early this week that they are not currently conducting any type of criminal investigation related to the matter.
Rathkey’s termination marks the second personnel firing from Warwick’s athletic department in the past two months. In April, Brent Leiby, the popular athletic trainer known as "Doc," was relieved of his duties when he was charged for stealing concession money from the high school. Lititz police were involved in that investigation.
Rathkey was Warwick’s head coach from 2008 to 2011. During that time, he compiled a four-year Section One record of 8-20 with the boys and 7-21 with the girls. Prior to serving as head coach, he was assistant coach from 2005 to 2007 with the jumpers. He was a volunteer assistant in 2004. A Warwick graduate, he held the Warwick boys’ high jump record until it was broken in 2010.
While Rathkey’s termination was approved Tuesday night, it was retroactive to May 24, three days before the state track meet at Shippensburg University, where two of his athletes competed.
In other school district business, the board heard comments from local resident Donald Gallagher, who cited the front page article in last week’s Lititz Record Express comparing Warwick with the Ephrata Area and Cocalico school districts.
He stated that there are many countywide, even some statewide, school districts governed by a single board and authority.
"To me it suggests that we would all benefit by consolidating (merging functions) with adjacent school districts," Gallagher said. "I urge the board to begin studies and discussions that lead us in that direction."
As a member of the Healthcare for All Pennsylvania citizens lobby, Gallagher also encouraged the school board to support two bills being introduced in the PA General Assembly which propose a one-payer plan for affordable, quality care with a plan that would cover the medical expenses of every Pennsylvanian. Those bills are the Family and Business Healthcare Security Act, HB 1660 and SB400.
There was no further discussion of the ideas presented by Gallagher.
During a Committee of the Whole meeting, which followed the special meeting, Zimmerman brought committee members up to speed on the latest developments of the Alternative Funding Committee, which was voted into existence by the school board in May of 2010.
"Alternative funding is not just about athletic funding, but any area of the district where donors and sponsors would want to contribute," noted Dr. April Hershey, school district superintendent.
"Alternative funding would also present guidelines for naming rights, sponsorships, etc.," added David Zerbe, district business manager. "We also want to make sure we are not creating too big of a program so as to overwhelm the community."
The committee is comprised of school board and sub-committee members, the district superintendent, business manager, athletic director, public relations coordinator and representatives from the Warwick Education Foundation. Meetings are held the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. Their goal is to launch a capital campaign for a phased master plan, and other areas of giving, in the fall.
School board member Jeff Conrad expressed frustration that a more concrete date for such a rollout has yet to be determined.
"When we say we are going to launch it in the fall, what does that mean?" he asked. "When does the rubber meet the road? I’m not talking about a fuzzy ‘in the fall.’"
Zimmerman explained that the committee’s main objective was to take the time needed to create a quality plan.
"It doesn’t matter so much how long it takes, but when it comes out it better be good," she said.
Board member Millard Eppig added that the committee was committed to having a firm plan of what projects it wanted to address, adding that this is a multi-pronged approach with volunteer consultants who have recommended development of a comprehensive plan which includes multiple areas of interest. He stressed that this is especially important to those with interests beyond athletics.
Hershey added that the committee has followed models used by other school districts, and that it is an in-house volunteer effort.
"We are boot-strapping this on our own," she said. "If we were paying someone to do this, it might have moved quicker, but at upwards of 30 percent of what we take in. We are doing this completely on our own, with volunteers."
The next meeting of the Alternative Funding Committee is scheduled for June 28. More SCHOOL BOARD, page A20