After some public outrage, confusion, and nearly a month’s time, Athletic Director Jeff Augustine and varsity basketball Coach Chris Bubble will continue their work at the Newfield School District.
At the Board of Education (BOE) meeting on July 11, the newly-restructured board voted in favor of renewing the contracts of Augustine and Bubble, ending a month-long period of uncertainty as to whether the longtime athletics leaders would return to the fields.
In June, the board had voted en masse to renew and appoint nearly all extracurricular staff—with the exception of Augustine and Bubble. Later that month, at a packed board meeting on June 27, team members, faculty, and other coaches criticized the board for making the decision and implored them to reconsider.
Alex Laue, a former baseball player who graduated from Newfield High School in 2016, was pleased by the Board’s latest decision. The renewal will “not only help better our community but the students as well,” Laue said in a message. “[The Board] not choosing to renew their contracts made me extremely disappointed in the community.”
Bubble has been named coach of the year and has taken the Newfield team to the final four twice, in 2017 and 2018. Augustine has worked with the Newfield district for more than 15 years, and both he and Bubble received public support, including an online petition to have Bubble reinstated that garnered more than 200 signatures. Neither coach responded to requests for comment.
The original decision not to renew the contacts had been “hasty,” then-president Jennifer Pawlewicz said on June 27, and was based on “some information that had been given to us.” She did not clarify what the information was.
Pawlewicz, Meng-Wei Hsu, Jeremy TenWolde, Christina Ward and Paula Miller voted in favor of both appointments. Scott Jackson, who voted against both, did not respond to a request for comment. After the meeting, TenWolde said the board had no comment on the matter.
At that meeting the board also reorganized, voting in Jeremy TenWolde as the new president and Christina Ward as the new vice president and welcoming new member Miller.
In terms of the upcoming year, “I’m not looking to shake anything up,” said newly-elected TenWolde, who said that the district is “operating well,” and outlined a few of his expectations for the coming year a few days after the meeting.
TenWolde praised the physical layout of the campus for bringing the community closer together.
“One of the great things about NCSD is the closeness made possible by a single campus. Students from the high school often visit elementary school classrooms as volunteers,” TenWolde wrote in an email. “Sometimes an entire elementary class will visit a high school class. This mixture of age groups gives the younger kids more role models and the older kids a chance to share what they have learned.”
TenWolde, whose daughters graduated from the district in 2012 and 2016, has nieces and nephews in the district. With his many years of involvement in the district, he had difficulty picking just one standout event, but he did highlight the Prism Concert, student art showcase and faculty basketball game, among many more.
In the future, TenWolde hopes to see the implementation of more computer science courses. “We’re getting there,” he said.
“My goals as president of the BOE are to foster a well rounded education in an inclusive, safe environment,” TenWolde said.