New Castle News

New Castle

July 18, 2012

New Castle High: Minority of ring recipients are basketball players

NEW CASTLE — A list of 45 recipients of New Castle basketball championship rings shows only 17 are student team members.

The other 28 rings went to adults who, according to school administrators, have some affiliation with the basketball program or are administrators or both.

The rings were bought in honor of the New Castle High’s boys basketball team’s recent achievement of capturing its first district WPIAL title since 1999 with a 26-0 record.

Controversy about the purchase of the rings erupted at last week’s school board meeting when board member Dr. Marilyn Berkely questioned why so many rings were bought at a cost of  $8,504.55, and whether they were purchased with tax money.

The rings, which reportedly are silver, cost $188.99 apiece.

Berkely and board members Barb Razzano and David DiGiammarino all cast “no” votes against paying the bill.

Board member Anna Pascarella took exception to the number of rings issued and suggested that in the future that number be decided and reviewed by the board’s athletic committee.

Superintendent George Gabriel said at the board meeting that the ring purchases were “an administrative decision.”

A check for $8,504.55, was made out to Josten’s in Chicago and was co-signed by board president J. Allan Joseph and district treasurer Jack Camerot. The check was dated June 28, almost two weeks before the board was presented the list of district expenditures for a vote.

The three voting no singled out that expenditure, but it was approved by a majority of the board.

Ralph Blundo, who is the boys basketball coach, and athletic director Sam Flora received rings that were paid for by the umbrella fund, and they personally paid for four other rings for other people.

Blundo bought a ring for his father, Ralph Blundo Sr. Flora paid for rings for Chipper Cotelesse, who operates the scoreboard, Mark Kirkwood, a junior varsity player and scorekeeper, and Bob Pia, the public address announcer, according to information provided by the district business office.

District business manager Joe Ambrosini explained that the district’s umbrella fund contains money generated from the schools’ vending machines. It also has money that parents pay for drug testing, he said, and is used for that purpose.

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