WARREN, NJ - Parents and student athletes, reeling from the sudden resignation of WHRHS head football coach Rich Seubert last week, filled the media center at Tuesday’s meeting of the Watchung Hills Regional High School Board of Education.
After listening to a presentation on wellness in the district, with an overview of efforts to educate students, teachers and parents regarding all aspects of wellness via curriculum, professional development and special events, the student athletes and parents took turns at the podium.
All praised Seubert’s coaching and mentoring.
Parents raised a perception issue that other schools of the same size with similar demographics spend more per student on extra-curricular activities and raised concerns that the football team was not adequately staffed.
Student athletes explained the difficulty in learning three playbooks in four years because of the turnover in the coaching staff.
Most asked the board to do what they can to get Seubert to return.
After the last speaker, board president Peter Fallon addressed the crowd. “We’re asked to spend more money on assistant coaches,” he said. “What everybody has to understand, and what we’ve attempted to explain to Coach Seubert, is that it’s a matter of collective bargaining with the union that represents our teachers and coaches here. We don’t have the flexibility to just throw more money at people... those are restrictions we have to comply with.”
The Watchung Hills Regional Education Association (WHREA) represents teachers, secretaries, aides and technicians, custodial and maintenance workers, bus drivers, coaches and co-curricular advisers. The collective bargaining agreement is in effect through June 2019.
“We are disappointed too that the coach decided to resign,” said Fallon.
Fallon also explained the work that has been done so far on alternative financing. The alternative financing committee was formed to seek increased revenue for the school and to create an overarching booster alliance that complies with district and state policies. More information will be provided at the next meeting.
The board then discussed comments raised during public commentary.
The number of football players has been relatively consistent over the last five years ranging from a low of 94 players two years ago to a high of 111 players this year, according to numbers provided during board discussion.
Board members expressed their disappointment in Seubert’s resignation and frustration that they had no idea he was unhappy and no opportunity to see if something could be done to address his concerns before he tendered his resignation.
“The district will immediately begin the search for a high quality head coach,” said WHRHS Director of Athletics Chris Van Vliet. “The process entails the position first being posted, followed by an application submission period, and then several rounds of interviews with our committee. We hope to have a new head coach in place for our program as soon as possible, so that preparations can begin to be made for next season.”
For more see: Rich Seubert Resigns as Watchung Hills Head Football Coach
For more on the wellness presentation see: Watchung Hills Board of Education Hears Presentation on Wellness, Comments on Integrity