Beth Roth, Instructional Technology Director for the district and Robotics Team captain, has told Norristown Patch that although she hasn't received official word from the school board or the district, she has submitted the application and the $750 entrance fee to the 2012 Vex Robotics World Middle School Competition. Roth remains confident that the school board will be forthcoming with official permission soon.
"We're moving forward," said Roth. "Now I have to raise the money."
According to The Times Herald, the team will need to raise close to $8000 for travel and lodging expenses and the cost of shipping the robots to Anaheim, California where the competition is being held.
Outraged parents and supporters had bombarded the school district and some school board members with calls, emails and letters after several Facebook posts by parents and a blog post by a parent in the Downingtown School District claimed the school board had denied permission for the students to attend the competition without explanation.
According to Norristown Area School Board President Denise Ashe, the outrage was based in part on misunderstanding. Ashe said the team had been told early on that funds were not available from the school district and permission wouldn't be granted until the money was raised. By Monday's school board meeting, the team had only raised $300.
Some school board members were apparently also wary of creating a precedent for cash-strapped clubs resorting to aggressive fundraising in the district. Ashe pointed out that the cheer leading squad was recently in a similar situation when they qualified for a regional competition but were unable to raise funds for the trip.
Ashe lamented the lack of communication on the part of the district, saying that more could have been done to keep people "in the loop."
The school board is expected to discuss the matter in a work session meeting Monday at the administration building at 7 p.m.
In the meantime, Beth Roth and her team are busy raising funds for the trip. Anyone wishing to donate should contact Roth at 610-630-5000.
Original story below.
As the end-of-day Friday deadline for the entry approaches, the Eisenhower in Anaheim, California next month .
The internet has been abuzz the last few days as parents and supporters have lobbied the school board and the district to give the students permission to attend the competition – permission that had not been forthcoming at Monday's school board meeting. No reason for the lack of action was given, and that lack of communication has parents and supporters flumoxed and angry.
According to The Times Herald, some school board members had concerns over how the money for the trip was being raised. (The students will need close to $8000 for travel and lodging expenses and to ship the robots to California.)
"It looked like to us as if the hat was being passed around," school board member Walter Mauthe told The Herald. "I think the majority of us felt that we did not want to send the kids."
Despite those statements, NASD Instructional Technology Director Beth Roth remains optimistic the district will decide in the team's favor.
"I'm hopeful," said Roth. "I just want to stay hopeful that this is all going to be fixed."
Calls to the school district for additional information have not been returned.
Norristown Patch will update readers as soon as new information is available.