Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Community members share their concerns with receptive SDL board

A number of city taxpayers brought forth concerns to the School District of Lancaster board, Tuesday night.

The School Board listened attentively to each of the presenters and often presented constructive responses. An attendee remarked that the atmosphere of the meeting seems to have improved lately.

One township resident, who has children in city schools, asked the board to consider very carefully its choice of new Athletic Director and to address what he considers the poor performance of the district's athletic programs, as evidenced by their win-loss records

"Our teams need not always have winning seasons, but they should be able to win a significant number of games," he said.

He went on to argue that this is a direct reflection of the lack of quality coaching of city schoolchildren.

Rivera replied, "I'd like to thank you for your continued feedback and know that it is a position that we hold close to heart... The athletic director will be responsible for engaging students in and out of the classroom, for building a sense of pride throughout the district, and encouraging students not only to come to school everyday but to be active participants in our school."

School Board member Michael Rowen added, "We were twenty minutes late [starting the meeting] because of this very topic, so we are taking it very seriously."

Another city resident and graduate of city schools, Ron Sultzbach, asked for the School Board's consideration.

Sultzbach is the head coach and owner of a minor league football team called the Atlantic Coast Patriots.

The team is seeking a venue to host its home games. Their season runs from March to June.

He indicated that they previously held games at Hershey Park but that it cost them $3,000 dollars to have six home games there. Since then, they've held a few games at Millersville University.

He said that they would like to play their games at McCaskey's field and that it would only be five or six home games a season. He went on to say that students would be invited to come watch the games for free with their Student IDs.

Sultzbach also thanked Rivera for meeting with him privately about the issue.

School Board President Patrick Snyder suggested that the board will consider the proposal and thanked Sultzbach for giving such advance notice.

Another individual who spoke Tuesday night is the media services librarian for Carter & MacRae elementary school, Matthew Buss.

Buss complained to the School Board that no funding in the past three years has been allocated for the purpose of purchasing new books.

"How are we to foster the love of reading and the love of learning when we can't even replace the most popular books or purchase new books by new authors with new stories to capture their imaginations?" he asked.

"Please help my library and all the libraries in the school district of Lancaster by finding some money to provide well-stocked libraries for the children in this school district," Buss petitioned.

The School Board did not immediately reply to his concern on Tuesday.

A local parent named Fran Rodriguez approached the podium and expressed two of her concerns.

One had to do with the crowded conditions in McCaskey High School between classes. "I have a Junior who attends McCaskey and every day he describes to me how, if anyone sneezes, coughs, let alone gets sick in the hallway, the proximity of one body to another in the hallway is just unhealthy," she said.

She advised the board to consider moving certain programs from McCaskey to other locations to alleviate the congestion.

She also noted that a list of tutoring services disseminated to parents included only one local service and that others were from outside the area, including Philadelphia and Baltimore..

She asked why prominent local tutoring service, Knowledge Is Power," is not on the list.

Rivera replied that the list of tutoring services is approved by a state office and that they cited a "clerical issue" with regard to why Knowledge Is Power did not make the cut.

"We don't get to pick and choose the list of providers that are going to be on that list," he said.