Lancaster School District advised to suspend renaming of schools for the year | Community News

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When: Lancaster School District School Board Meeting, Aug. 9.

What happened: The district should remove this school year from renaming schools, advised board chair Robin Goodson.

Quotable“I strongly suggest we pause the process to allow management to deal with more pressing (administrative) matters,” said Goodson, who chairs the 20-member committee working to rename some district schools. “Renaming is a priority, but it’s not a top priority.”

After: Matt Przywara, chief financial operations officer, also serves as acting superintendent following Damaris Rau’s retirement on July 5. This position is expected to have a permanent occupant for the 2023-24 school year. Additionally, Goodson noted, several directors who sit on the name change committee have taken on additional jobs due to vacancies.

Background: The school district in 2020 began an effort to change the names of buildings named after slave owners or people who do not uphold district values. The board decided to consider new names for two schools each year. Hand Middle School became Hazel I. Jackson Middle School in July 2021. Jackson was the first black woman to teach at Lancaster. Buchanan Elementary School was renamed in honor of Millersville University professor Rita Smith-Wade-El.

More money: The district will spend the next month or two figuring out how to spend the additional $4.6 million received from the state legislature in this year’s budget. Lawmakers have earmarked an unanticipated $3.8 million for general education funding and nearly $800,000 more for special education funding, said Kim Reynolds, the district’s chief financial officer. These additions bring state funding to approximately $85 million of the district’s $250 million annual budget.

Safety and mental health: An additional $513,000 in grants will cover student physical safety and mental health issues. Staff can use the security grant to provide training for bus drivers and school crossing guards, and to pay someone to assess the physical security of school buildings, Reynolds said. Mental health money can be used to strengthen each school’s student aid program by training additional staff. This program connects students to community providers for drug and alcohol counseling, as well as mental health resources.

Babysitting transportation offered: Families who enroll children in private before and after school child care can receive free transportation to and from district school buildings, district spokesman Adam Aurand said after the meeting. Private child care companies should request free transportation from the district communications office. Aurand said families should encourage their child care providers to contact the district.

Option: Additionally, students can sign up for child care through the district’s partnership with Lancaster Recreation. These students will receive services in district school buildings.

Next: The school council will meet at 7 p.m. on August 16. The public can view the meetings and register to comment on the district’s website.

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