Peters high dance team recognized as sport

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After months of delays and protests from students and parents, the Peters school board resolved an issue with the high school dance team by ceding control of it.

By a 7-2 vote on Monday, the board decided to make the team a club sport, not a high school activity as it had been for the past eight years.

The move means the team will continue to use the Peters name, but will have individual control over daily operations, as well as coaches and other team personnel decisions. It must still conform to the district's rules and regulations governing security and financial management.

Voting in favor were board members Lynn Erenberg, David Hvizdos, Ron Dunleavy, Bill Merrell, Sue Smith, Sandra Gregg and Thomas McMurray. Opposed were Cindy Golembiewski and Lori Cuervo, both of whom lost re-election bids in the spring.

Representatives from the team couldn't have been happier with the decision.

"We would welcome the dance team becoming a team sport," said Kim Scott, co-president of the booster group.

Ms. Scott said the first order of business for the team would be the reinstatement of former sponsor Barb Deliere, a high school Spanish teacher who founded the team with her daughter, head coach Dominique Schuster.

"This allows her to be a member of our group again," Ms. Scott said. "The booster group supported her from day one."

Being a club sport also eliminates the need for a district sponsor, so Ms. Deliere could perhaps work as a coach, coordinator or in whatever capacity she wishes, Ms. Scott said.

Ms. Deliere's reappointment as sponsor became an issue in May, when a faction of the board apparently removed her name from a list of reappointments on a monthly agenda, despite a recommendation from high school principal Lori Pavlik.

For months, students and parents came to board meetings and protested, demanding that Ms. Deliere's reappointment be approved, to no avail.

The team, which won a national championship last season, began its season this year with Ms. Pavlik acting as sponsor, though members still lobbied the school board to reinstate Ms. Deliere.

Several parents and Ms. Deliere expressed dismay and said they felt some members of the board had a "personal vendetta" against Ms. Deliere. Team officials said they had never received a complaint about Ms. Deliere, who was admired for her dedication. The team had an undefeated season last year.

Ordinarily, there would have been little fanfare to Ms. Deliere being reappointed to the position, which pays an annual stipend of $1,346 and involves organizing the team's activities around high school schedules. The stipend does not "come close" to covering all of the money Ms. Deliere personally spends to help the girls, a family member said. Ms. Deliere has never requested an increase in the stipend.

The removal of her name from the May agenda drew the ire of some board members, who said a minority faction improperly removed Ms. Deliere's name from the agenda before the meeting.

Ms. Scott said parents already fully fund the team with monthly dues of $200, which covers the costs of competitions, costumes and other expenses.

The idea to make the team a club sport came from new superintendent Jeannine French, who approached the group, Ms. Scott said.

"She has been very concerned about this and wanted it resolved," Ms. Scott said. "She felt we should have been a club sport to begin with."

Ms. French, who was hired in May, said it was a group effort.

"I think it was a combination of working with the board, dance team leaders and parents," she said. "Everybody was focused on what was best for our children and it just jumped out at us."

The district's ice hockey team is also a club sport. Such sports have a three-year probationary period, to assure that there is enough participation and financing to continue as independent teams.

The district does not fund the dance team and will no longer pay Ms. Deliere's stipend. It also has provided no space for the team to practice, Ms. Scott said.

Because the season is half over, Ms. French said she will work to ensure a smooth transition after the team obtains necessary documents and clearances.

"There will be no interruption in the program," she said.

Also Monday, the board:

* Awarded contracts to: Trane to replace the rooftop air conditioning unit at the high school computer server room for $9,253; Hanlon Electric to install electrical power circuits for two new high-pressure washers for $1,830; high-pressure washers from Hotsy for $6,423; replacement of classroom smart boards to Gaylord for $3,867; Hanlon Electric to purchase and install lights to illuminate flags at several schools for $11,090; Kenny Ross Ford for a delivery truck for $26,608; two school vans from Woltz & Wind Ford for $59,964; and a dump truck and snow plow from Allegheny Ford Truck Sales for $56,304.

* Revised a policy governing dedications and memorials, giving the board authority to approve all district memorials before they are installed.

* Appointed: Jessica Monaco as high school drama co-director, Dennis Holderbaum as ninth-grade wrestling head coach, Kenneth McWilliams as middle school softball head coach, Keith Compeggie as assistant coach, John Knabb Jr. as ninth-grade wrestling assistant coach, Brian Vautier as second assistant coach for high school football, and Ken Smith as head coach of the ninth-grade wrestling team.

Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1867.


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