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As board members reconsider its value, GASD renovation project moves forward

The Gettysburg Area School District School Board voted yesterday evening to resume discussions about the proposed project to replace the HVAC system, roofing, lighting, and other facilities at Lincoln and James Gettys Elementary schools.

The board had rejected a motion to move forward with the project in Sept.

Board President Kenny Hassinger, along with board members Tim Seigman and Timon Linn, took pains to point out that the vote only established the procurement method that would be used and didn’t involve “a blank check.”

Board member Michelle Smyers, who had in earlier meetings repeatedly questioned whether it was necessary to replace the equipment, this time acknowledged the project had merit. “Once HVAC units get to 20 years they really do lose their efficiency and effectiveness,” she said.

Smyers said that as long as the board was able to remove line-item components from the project she was OK with it.

Board member AmyBeth Hodges’ motion to table the proposal failed for lack of a second and she cast the lone vote against moving the project forward.

Hodges also continued her longstanding objection to school use of procurement cards to order food from local establishments for school-sponsored events, asserting that food be purchased only from school system facilities to ensure good nutrition and student wellness.  

The motion to authorize the procurement cards passed with Hodges as the only “no” vote.

Hodges also cast the only vote against a motion to continue the Assistant Director of Facilities position. District Superintendent Jason Perrin pointed out that the assistant director position saved money because it allowed the district to eliminate several lower level management positions.

Hodges serves as the board’s legislative liaison to local and state governmental agencies. After her legislative report Hassinger asked if she had had any discussions with legislators about property tax relief or charter schools.

Instead of answering Hassinger’s question or giving a report, Hodges said she urged fellow board members and the public to email her directly.

Contacted after the meeting, Hassinger said he asked Hodges what he said was a “legitimate question on behalf of the board members.”

“I’ve asked her several times if the legislators have looked at property tax relief and charter school relief,” he said. “That’s one of the functions the liaison does.”

Hassinger said he asked a third time for a report so board members wouldn’t need to pester legislators on behalf of the board.

The board heard comments from two residents on the two issues that seem likely to consume much of the board’s attention and account for much of the controversy over the coming months.

Bob Stilwell denounced the “the totally unacceptable process the school administration has been trying to use to get you to approve the expenditure of $34 million without you even knowing what you will be spending it on.”

Sharon Birch criticized what she said was a proposed addition to the book policy that she saw as “an escalation of options including the option to require the students who do access the challenged materials to meet with a school counselor.”

Committee Chair Mike Dickerson answered that at present no draft policy on books has been brought to the policy committee and that they are just considering options.

Hassinger said he had never heard of the school counselor proposal Birch had mentioned. “The board is not looking to ban books,” said Hassinger when contacted after the meeting.  “That’s not a proposed option. What we’re doing is talking about how we can serve everybody’s interest.”

Hodges could not be reached for comment.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is on Dec. 5.

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Leon Reed, freelance reporter, is a former US Senate staff member, defense consultant, and history teacher. He is a seven year resident of Gettysburg, where he writes military history and explores the park and the Adams County countryside. He is the publisher at Little Falls Books, chaired the Adams County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee and is on the board of SCCAP and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. He and his wife, Lois, have 3 children, 3 cats, and 5 grandchildren.

 

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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  • Thank you for reporting the full news of what happened at the School Board meeting. The public needs to know who is -or is not- doing their job.

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