Warwick hires new band director Also, parent raises concerns about coaching

By on July 20, 2011

By: MICHAEL C. UPTON Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

During a typically shortened summer business meeting Tuesday, Warwick School Board faced many personnel issues, including the hiring of a new marching band director.

The board unanimously approved the employment of Mathew Wolfe as band director for the 2011/12 school year at a salary of $4,050. Wolfe also gained another position in the district as high school instrumental music teacher. He is replacing Rebecca Staznik, who resigned earlier this year.

"I’m looking forward to working with the band," Wolfe said. "I think we are going to have a lot of fun together and achieve a lot of high, excellent standards."

In other personnel matters, during time set aside for public comment, district resident Chuck Biemesderfer addressed the board with his concerns regarding the current Warwick boys lacrosse head coach Chris Schmehl. Those concerns, Biemesderfer said, were shared by many parents of lacrosse players not in attendance. Biemesderfer first approached the board in May.

"I’m here to express a disappointment in the process that led to the approval of the head coach for reinstatement," he said. "There have been many e-mails and many meetings with the athletic director (John Kosydar), not just with myself, but with a multitude of parents who all have the same concerns."

Biemesderfer expressed concern that Kosydar had too much power in regard to maintaining a coach he said has troubled parents. He faulted Kosydar with trying to fix a problem after the season when it should have been addressed during the season.

According to Biemesderfer, the following items were specific concerns presented to Kosydar — a lack of respect from players for coaches, teammates and officials; there is a need for consistent, fair discipline of the team and individual players for violations of the code of conduct; a clearly defined coaching philosophy; a lack of well designed practice plans; and a need to improve sportsmanship among the players.

Biemesderfer stated that parents offered the names of coaches to take Schmehl’s place as head coach.

"Those are the things that (Kosydar) found common (among parent concerns)," Biemesderfer said. "I’m assuming that the Warwick School District would want a qualified (coach) to already enable and hold those values and be able to communicate those skills to the players. So, I don’t understand how the athletic director feels that he needs to help mentor a head coach being that this is his third year of employment with the district."

Biemesderfer asked for a written explanation of the issue by the administrator who oversees the athletic director.

"This is a personnel issue, so we won’t be discussing it at a public meeting," board president Dr. Timothy Quinn said.

Board member Jeff Conrad asked how many students were involved in the lacrosse program. The consensus answer Tuesday was between 40 to 45 students. Conrad wanted a hard number of how many people were not pleased.

"Two months ago … our parents association board sent out an e-mail basically asking people who supports our direction," explained Biemesderfer. "Without having that (information) in front of me I’m going to use rough numbers, but I’m basically going to say that 48 percent of the people agreed that there needs to be change. There was two or three percent that said no and there were 38 percent that never responded. So, to me, that’s enough of an overwhelming percent."

Biemesderfer reiterated that he was the spokesperson for an entire group of parents, but took the most recent correspondence between he and Kosydar personally.

"His last response to me was rather demeaning and condescending," Biemesderfer said. "He’s obviously missing the point here. The parents came forward and have a concern about an employee of the district … It’s baffling."

With Biemesderfer’s comments taking up 10 minutes of the meeting, Quinn attempted to move on with regular business by explaining that the issue is a personnel matter and would not be discussed in an open meeting setting.

"We have addressed it at a leadership team meeting," said Dr. April Hershey, district superintendent. "I would be glad to speak with you, if you would like, after the meeting."

Later in the meeting, the board approved all extra duty positions and professional contracts. In that motion was the election of Schmehl as head coach. The motion passed 7-1, with Conrad voting nay.

In other news, the board also approved the hiring of George Quickel as a security officer for the district, effective Sept. 7, 2011.

The board approved a final reading of the board policy manual. The revised manual will be available to view on the district’s website warwick.k12.pa.us.

Due to a lack of business items, the board canceled the Aug. 2 committee of whole meeting.

Board member and student activities committee chair Todd Rucci reported that the district continues to look at extracurricular activity fees. Rucci stated that any plan would not go in place until the fall of 2012.

"As a committee and a board this is something we want to make sure (we get) right," he said. More SCHOOL BOARD, page A14

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