Student-athletes with the Elizabethtown Area School District will not be served by athletic trainers from CPRS Physical Therapy next school year.
Instead, looking to save money, the Elizabethtown school board decided to enter into a five-year contract with Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster. OAL’s first-year fee is $65,000, rising to $73,158 in year five.
The vote at the action meeting on Tuesday, April 24, was unanimous, but was accompanied by comments expressing regret at losing a “phenomenal” provider in CPRS.
Before the vote, CPRS president and CEO Tom Marsilio said he believed the district would incur more costs in the long run with OAL. And three students and a parent pleaded with the board to retain CPRS, citing the “amazing care” provided by the trainers.
Marsilio said that in the 16 years that CPRS has held the contract, there have been no issues with lawsuits. He also said that CPRS has run a “significant deficit” on the contract since its start in 2002, and that this year, the company had asked the district to assume half the deficit in a renewed contract. He estimated that, over 16 years, the company has lost approximately half a million dollars, which he considers donated services to the school district.
He noted that while the CPRS proposal would be $20,000 higher than the OAL contract, he contended that OAL trainers will be “incentivized” to send students out for more diagnostic testing, which would result in unnecessary trips and more medical costs for families. And, he said, school insurance would pay more for what isn’t covered, resulting in higher premiums.
Student Julee Wells said the two current trainers “both go above and beyond. They’ve formed strong bonds with coaches, staff and athletes, and provide amazing care to every person that walks in the training room.” She noted that CPRS helped initiate the school’s athletic training club for students interested in sports medicine and rehabilitation, including her.
Student Zach Frank said the two trainers “helped shape me into the person and the athlete I am today.” He said the district “won’t be losing just two amazing trainers – who can tape anything perfectly – you’ll be losing two best friends to many of the students in the school.”
Football player Gavin Gray said the trainers helped him with injuries, and that losing them is like losing part of the team.
Board member Craig Hummer noted that his daughter received “phenomenal” care from CPRS trainers, but when changes are made to control costs, “it’s going to affect someone. It’s tough. We don’t take that lightly.” He said he expects OAL to provide the same level of service.
Business manager George Longridge acknowledged that CPRS has provided top-quality trainers, and it’s “saying goodbye to a friend.” But, he said, the administration is charged with “being as effective and efficient as possible with taxpayer dollars.” He said the contract’s costs were carefully examined.
Board member M. Caroline Lalvani noted that “there is a cost to relationships,” which the board struggles with as well as financial costs. She thanked the speakers for expressingtheir opinions.
Also, junior Kayla Azaroff, president-elect of the student council, spoke to the board, saying a new rule on locking classroom doors as a security measure has received negative feedback. She encouraged administration to rethinkthat rule. District spokesman Troy Portser later clarified that the measure is additional security in case of an armed intruder. But students are not locked into classrooms and can still go into the hallways.
Logan Hoover, current student council president, lamented plans for the cafeteria to take over space occupied by the school store run by the student council. Portser later said that the food service contractor is looking into launching a coffee shop area, but at this point, it’s just a concept; it’s possible the school store and coffee shop could coexist.
The board also approved doubling the participation fees for athletics and marching band for the 2018-19 school year, from $25 to $50. And it approved a five-year bus transportation contract with current contractor Durham School Services.
Also, Brian Lownsbery, director of technology, gave an update on the 1:1 initiative, in which students will get Chromebook laptops to enhance instruction. The updated rollout schedule is for middle school next year, high school in 2019-20 and Bear Creek School (grades four to six) in 2020-21.