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Berm elects Wool and Chubb

The Bermudian Springs school board elected a president and vice president during back-to-back caucus and regular meetings on Monday evening. During the caucus meeting, the board reviewed the agenda for the shorter regular meeting. Soon afterwards, the board reelected Michael Wool as its president during the regular meeting. “Thank you, everyone,” Wool said. “It’s an honor to serve with all of you.” Daniel Chubb replaced Matthew Nelson as vice president. The board also approved the resignation of David Orwig, the district’s athletic director, effective June 30, 2023. Orwig will retire at the end of the school year, according to Superintendent Shane Hotchkiss. WellSpan will provide athletic services The board approved a letter of intent serving as an agreement for WellSpan Health to provide athletic services to the district from Jan. 1, 2023 through June 30, 2023. According to Hotchkiss, WellSpan would accept $13,750 to provide those services until the end of the school year. Hotchkiss said there is a possibility the district could enter into a longer-term contract to have two athletic trainers at the district. Apple visit Bermudian Springs hosted an event called Building Momentum on Dec. 1 at the suggestion of Apple executives, according to assistant superintendent Shannon Myers. Myers said she and Hotchkiss met with the executives in September after the high school was named an Apple Distinguished School. After the Apple representatives suggested it, the district invited representatives from other school districts to visit both the middle and high school last week. About 35 to 40 representatives from districts in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia visited the schools. Myers said the experience could help other districts make plans to better use technology. “A school district that (the Apple executives) met with just kind of shared their experience from a very positive standpoint and said that Bermudian has a great story and should be proud,” Myers said. “Another school district commented that they wished they could bottle the culture of BSSD and bring it back to their district. So it really was a nice opportunity for building administrators and for Dr. Hotchkiss and I to really kind of showcase we’ve done a tremendous amount of work in our buildings.” While the event might have been beneficial for other districts, Myers said it was also an opportunity for Bermudian to collect feedback from its guests to learn what it can focus on improving and what areas it is strong in. Other business Two board members, Jennifer Goldhahn and Ruth Griffie, expressed interest in participating on the district curriculum council. The board discussed the pros and cons of having a school board member attend curriculum council meetings. “With something as essential as curriculum, I think there should be board members present during its development,” Goldhahn said. “We’re not there to bug anybody or be any kind of– ‘chilling factor’ was a phrase that was used before. We’re there to learn, to observe. This is our kids’ curriculum. This is what they’re learning. We should be involved.” Griffie said she recalled serving on the curriculum council in about 2000. Hotchkiss said that when he started at his role in 2008, no board members served on the curriculum council. He told the board he would look into what changes were made and when. During the time for public comment during the regular meeting, one parent addressed the board to suggest adding a selection of “patriotic and educational books” in the elementary school library. The parent said the books were selected by a group named Moms for Liberty. The speaker also addressed recent controversy involving the school’s flag policy. The individual said the district should “consider promoting” the one flag hanging in all of its classroom that “represents all of us,” referring to the American flag. The board will hold a caucus meeting at 7:00 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9. A regular board meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10. Meetings are held in the high school auditorium and are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube page.

The Gettysburg and Trone Memorial Libraries: A Working Relationship

Reference services. Guidance. Support. These are just a few of the terms that come to mind when I think about the relationship between the Gettysburg Library branch and my library, the Trone Memorial Library. As the center of all activity and services for the library system, the Gettysburg location offers the largest collection of resources and materials that my team and I can use to better serve the East Berlin community. What do I mean by this? Here are just a few examples: Every new book my team and I purchase for the collection at the library first makes its way to Gettysburg, where it is cataloged and processed for the collection. Thanks to a team of staff and volunteers, the book is properly tagged for patrons to better find in the online catalog – when you search for James Patterson in the catalog, it is thanks to the team in Gettysburg that you can find the full list of titles by him in the catalog. Next, the book receives the right book covering and labels to help prevent damage and to identify the book on the shelf. Then, the book is sent to Trone Memorial Library, where we can place it on our new shelf (or send it out to the first person on hold for it!).  While we do purchase materials for the collection, a good portion of the collection at the Trone Memorial Library is rotated to Gettysburg for other materials. This keeps the collections we have fresh, while also allowing us to keep the favorite titles the East Berlin community loves. Twice a year, most collections have an opportunity to be rotated. The Trone team pulls items that have been on the shelves for at least a year – using a special code on the items – and places them ready for delivery to Gettysburg. In turn, Gettysburg pulls a like amount of items from the collections at the Gettysburg Library and places them ready for delivery to the Trone Memorial Library. When a patron places a hold on a book from a different library in the county, or when a library is rotating its collections, it is thanks to the delivery services housed at the Gettysburg location that the hold or the rotations arrive at the Trone Memorial Library in a timely manner. Running six days a week, deliveries between branches tend to take one to two days. If an item is available on the shelf in Littlestown, for example, the item can be at my library in just a couple of days. This goes beyond the request for hold requests – the library receives much needed supplies through delivery as well! As a branch of the Adams County Library System, all supply needs – from scotch tape to printer paper to even tissues and hand sanitizer – are purchased and distributed to the branch libraries from the Gettysburg Library. There are quite a number of other great examples about the value of the Gettysburg Library to the Trone Memorial Library, but for just one more example: the local history collection. Those who visit the Trone Memorial Library know we have a small collection of local history information. If we need to find more resources for our patrons – cemetery records, family genealogies, etc. – the Local History collection at the Gettysburg Library is a perfect next step. This collection spans several decades, from the creation of Adams County to the Civil War to the early 1900s. The Local History area has collections that benefit all parts of Adams County. These examples show the great working relationship between the two libraries!  Jessica Laganosky is Branch Director, Jean Barnett Trone Memorial Library

LASD reelects president and vice-president; sets 2023 meeting dates

At its annual reorganization meeting this evening, the Littlestown Area School District Board of Directors re-elected Dolores Nester as President and Yancy Unger as Vice President. Board members Nicki Kenny and Jeanne Ewen voted against Nester; the vote for Unger was unanimous. The board also finalized the board and committee meeting schedules for 2023, which will be published on the district’s web page. The board said board meeting times were advertised in the Gettysburg Times, the Hanover Evening Sun, and on the district website. The board said it is struggling with staffing, particulary for student aides. The board considered two options for the 2023-2024 school calendar. In both, the last day of school would be May 31, 2024.  The options involved a start date of Aug 24 or a more condensed schedule with a later start date of Aug 30, 2023. The board also discussed whether 2 chaperones for 50 students was sufficient for a class trip to New York City.

GASD Elects Officers, Announces New Deputy Superintendent

At Gettysburg Area School District’ annual reorganization meeting last evening, President Kenneth Hassinger was re-elected as Board President for 2023 and Mike Dickerson was elected Vice President. Both votes were split with 8 members in favor and Amy Beth Hodges voting against. The board agreed to comply with state and federal laws, designated the Gettysburg Times as the newspaper of record, and named Dr. Leigh E. Dalton, Stock and Leader, Attorneys at Law, as legal counsel with an hourly rate of $215. In the regular business meeting, Superintendent Jason Perrin introduced newly appointed Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Dr. Jeffrey Matzner. Matzner is currently a middle school principal in Dauphin County and won’t be available to start until February. Perrin announced that retiring assistant superintendent Dr. Christina Lay has agreed to delay her retirement until Matzner is on board. State representative Dan Moul appeared during the public comment period to address questions Hassinger had raised at the previous meeting concerning the status of talks in Harrisburg about the budget and charter schools. Moul pointed out that he isn’t on the Education Committee but that he had checked with his colleagues. Regarding the budget, he acknowledged that budget timelines made it difficult for boards to make their decisions. “I know you have to do your budget before you get ours,” he said. Moul recommended the board plan on the same level of state funding as last year and perhaps an additional 1 or 2 percent. Regarding Charter Schools, Moul said he too shares a concern about the revenue loss from virtual schools. He said the Education Committee chair told him they had received no cooperation either from the state or the charters schools on the issue. “My caucus is starting to lean more and more toward school choice,” said Moul. Moul noted the number of chronically failing public schools, primarily in urban areas. “If you have a family that can’t afford private school, how can you tell them they must continue to attend this failing school?,” he asked. Moul said another reason to promote school choice is that parents may not like the school curriculum. Moul raised an additional issue regarding the repeated purchases of Adams County land by the American Battlefield Trust (ABT) and other organizations in which the purchased land is then donated to the National Park System. “Each of these takes land off the tax base,” he said, “and that can be a big revenue loss to you,” he said. Moul said he would request that future purchasers of property to be taken off the tax rolls escrow an amount equivalent to all taxes that would be paid over a 20-year period. The board also approved the parental involvement plan and accepted a donation of books for each elementary school library from Moms for Liberty.

From Shipment to Shelf

Here at the Adams County Library System, we receive regular shipments of books, DVDs, and audiobooks every week.  Some are upcoming releases heading for a release date the following week, but our materials also include endowments and specific order requests from patrons. Primarily, however, the responsibility of ordering materials is shared among a number of our library staff, who cover different categories, including fiction, non-fiction, children’s, young adult, and DVDs.   All of these books and DVDs come to the Gettysburg branch for cataloging, but when finished, they are sent out among all six branches of the Adams County Library System- Gettysburg, Carroll Valley, New Oxford, Littlestown, Biglerville, and East Berlin. When they arrive, I unpack and organize the materials and set them aside for the order to be reviewed, and once they return to me, I start the process of cataloging so that library patrons can find the new materials in the Adams County Library catalog system.  This process can range from simple copy cataloging to more complex original cataloging.  As we share our catalog system with other Pennsylvania libraries, some materials have been partially or completely cataloged by my counterparts elsewhere in the state, such as York County Libraries or the Lackawanna County Library System. In other cases, I can pull up catalog records from a wider variety of library systems across the country, import them into our catalog and add finishing touches according to our particular cataloging standards. On rare occasions, I have used records from Europe or Australia as the basis for creating a catalog record, but that is less common than simply creating a new record from scratch myself.              Creating a new catalog record is perhaps the most satisfying process on a professional level, but it is also the type of cataloging that takes the most time.   The most important aspect is creating sufficient and accurate subject headings so that patrons can find what they are looking for in our catalog system.  For nonfiction books, the next key step is assigning an appropriate call number under the Dewey Decimal System, so the books can be found on the shelf.  Once the catalog records are complete, each item is assigned a barcode for our catalog system and a spine label.  The latter includes its Dewey Decimal number and the author’s last name for non-fiction, or the genre (mystery, romance, etc.) and author’s name for fiction.  For DVDs, an abbreviated form of the title replaces the author’s name.              After the catalog record, barcode, and spine label, the books are set aside for processing- which involves plastic covers to better protect the books and property stamps so that the books are clearly labeled as Adams County Library System materials- all so they can come back to us and be ready for the next patron!  Once that is done, the materials are sent out to the six branches of the library system, either headed for the ‘new materials’ shelves or the hold shelves for patrons who have placed a book or DVD on reserve in advance.  In six months, books will be moved from their ‘new’ status, and eventually, they will rotate to different branches of the library system, but that is a topic for another day.

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.

CVSD hires principal; honors students

The Conewago Valley school board approved hiring a new principal during the board’s meeting on Monday evening. Joshua Schaffer will begin working as the principal of New Oxford Middle School by Jan. 16, 2023 or once allowed by his previous employer, according to the board agenda. Schaffer will take the place of Matthew Muller, who will transfer from his position as principal to a new role as the director of safety and communications on Jan. 16. Muller’s transfer was approved by the school board on Sept. 19. Muller has already begun preparing for his new position and told the board he recently attended a safety summit. The district will likely have risk and vulnerability assessments concluded sometime next year, according to Muller. Superintendent Sharon Perry recommended the board approve hiring Schaffer. Perry also thanked board treasurer Luke Crabill for the eight years he has spent on the school board, thanking him on behalf of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. “The Honor Roll is the Association’s way of thanking those individuals who exemplify leadership by giving unselfishly of their time and talents for the betterment of the public schools, serving students across the Commonwealth,” Perry said. The superintendent also took the time to note American Education Week, thanking all school board members, staff and faculty members who contribute to the district. Perry said she hoped district staff would be able to rest during the upcoming holiday break. “I’m full of gratitude for what we’re able to accomplish together within our public schools at this time and it is my distinct hope that we are officially at that place where we can take some time to reflect on the good work that has been done,” Perry said. “We can spend some quality time with our friends and family and be thankful for each other as we move into the holiday season.” Assistant superintendent Rob Walker said that the district is continuing to work on supporting its new teachers, adding that both beginner and veteran teachers new to the district are included. “(We’re) making sure that we’re doing our due diligence and making sure that we’re supporting our new teachers because we know it’s very hard to find high-quality teachers, and we want to make sure that we are attracting them and retain them,” Walker said. “So that’s really important that we do that, make sure they feel supported.” Walker said that the new teachers have been asked what additional supports they may need and added they were asked to think about what they would do for themselves during the holiday season. Honors and recognition The board recognized several students for recent athletic and academic achievements. Kaitlyn Frey and Ella Billman were recognized as the New Oxford High School Rotary Club Student of the Month for September and October, respectively. Four students were noted for receiving nominations as the Times Area Player of the Week: Brennan Holmes was nominated for the week of Oct. 10, Anya Rosenbach was nominated for the week of Oct. 17, Kaelyn Balko won during the week of Oct. 24, and Sydney Winpigler was nominated during the week of Oct. 31, according to the board agenda. Five student athletes were also acknowledged for additional accomplishments. Harvin Flowers Alvarado was named the Player of the Year in YAIAA Division 2 boys’ soccer. Israel Felipe was named for the first team in YAIAA Division 2 boys’ soccer while Marcus Lua, Edwin Garcia-Sanchez and Jose Zavala were all chosen for the second team, according to the agenda. Seven students were recognized for receiving college acceptances and, in some cases, scholarships. Other business The board approved a handful of classes for next school year. “It’s a testament to our teachers who continue to work diligently to find ways to expand the learning opportunities that we provide to our students here at New Oxford High School and the district,” Christopher Bowman, principal of the high school, told the board. Business manager Lori Duncan said the district’s audit was recently completed. The board will likely receive a packet with information about the district’s audit in late December, according to Duncan. The board accepted a donation for $26,000 from Gene Latta Ford, Inc. According to the agenda, the money is intended for the small engines class in New Oxford High School’s Career and Technology Center. No one spoke during the time for public comment. The school board will hold its reorganization meeting on Monday, Dec. 5. A study session will be held at 6:30 p.m. and the regular meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Meetings are held in the district board room and are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

Flyer posted in the Gettysburg College student union draws national attention

A flyer posted in the Gettysburg College student union last week announcing an event that never took place has put the college in the national news. The flyer asked people who were “tired of white cis men” to come paint and write about their feelings at an event to be held last Saturday. Editor’s note: “Cis” refers to “cisgender,” a term used to describe a person whose gender identity corresponds to their sex assigned at birth. It is not the same as “straight” or “heterosexual” which refer to being attracted to members of the opposite sex. The college distanced itself from the flyer and the event was canceled as the news about it went viral. The story was carried by Fox News, The Washington Examiner, the New York Post, and other news and social media outlets. The college said the event was created as part of a student project, that it did not endorse the event, and that it had asked the student “to restructure their project.” According to a story in the campus newspaper, The Gettysburgian, a student involved in the project said the event was created in part to draw attention to what they perceived as racist and homophobic events that had occurred on campus this semester. “In any community of our size, there will be a wide range of views. That creates a fertile educational environment, but it also means that there will be occasions where views expressed are controversial or inconsistent with the values of the community. That is inherent in the freedom we give to our students to find themselves and to express themselves,” said the statement from the college. Featured image: Gettysburg College student union [Gettysburg College]

GASD considers other opportunities for HVAC upgrade

After voting down the proposed $33.8 million HVAC system upgrade for James Gettys and Lincoln Elementary schools at its Sept. meeting, the Gettysburg Area School District board of Directors will consider other possibilities for moving forward on the project. Saying that there had been interest expressed by the board in using different procurement methods for these projects, Director of Facilities, Safety, and Security Josh Reynolds suggested two ways to proceed that would give the board more control over expenses: Method One: Design and build services through the cooperative purchasing network Omnia Partners, specifying Trane Industrial HVAC Equipment and Siemens Building Automation System as equipment contractors. Method Two: Design and build services through an ESCO Project (Guaranteed Energy Savings) with an open specification for HVAC equipment and the building automation system. Reynolds said the administration’s recommendation was to use procurement Method One (Omnia Partners), as it provides the best opportunity to minimize contractual risk to the district by using a single contract for both design and construction services as well as maintain the district’s equipment and system standard by purchasing Trane Industrial Equipment and Siemens Building Automation System. The district will have a Finance and Facilities meeting on Nov. 17 to discuss the possibilities.  Reynolds said that if the district acted quickly it might be able to have a signed contract in place by the end of January, 2023.  This would allow adequate time for project design, plan reviews/approvals and equipment procurement to allow construction to begin by March 1, 2024 and complete the projects by mid-August, 2024. In response to a query from an attendee at the meeting, Reynolds said there was no specific request for work or RFP for the project because the design stage had not been completed. The district’s next board meeting, which also includes the annual reorganization meeting, is scheduled for Dec. 5 at 7:00 p.m.  

Berm addresses flags in classrooms

Responding to the increased prevalence of flags (such as the intersex pride flag) being displayed in classrooms, The Bermudian Springs school board spent a long caucus meeting on Monday debating whether to make its existing flag policy stricter. The conversation was continued by members of the public during the board’s meeting on Tuesday. Board member Travis Mathna broached the topic during the board’s caucus meeting on Monday evening, prompting a long discussion by the board. During the time for public comment, several individuals voiced their thoughts on the topic. A handful of people addressed the issue again during the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday evening. On Monday, Mathna presented draft policy 807, which if adopted would prohibit all flags and banners except those explicitly deemed appropriate by the district. “I did some research on what other districts are doing to try and limit distractions and flags and banners that are controversial in nature, etc, to limit that kind of distraction and divisiveness in the classroom,” Mathna said. “By no means, when I did the research, is this designed to be against any one particular group.” Mathna said the district administration receives “tons of phone calls and emails from parents complaining about material in the classroom” and hoped the policy would address those concerns. Mathna said individuals have also reached out to him. Board president Michael Wool asked Superintendent Shane Hotchkiss whether district administrators field many complaints about distracting materials in the classrooms. According to Hotchkiss, there was a “brief” time last spring where there were concerns but there have not been many. He said he has received less than 10 emails from the 1,600 to 1,700 families in the district voicing concerns. Wool said the district has other policies designed to address potential distractions in the classroom. He also worried that adding more detail to the flag policy would make it more difficult to enforce. “By adding this, my concern is going to be the enforcement because, for example, if I have a flag hanging on a pole in the back of my pickup truck in the parking lot, is that covered?” Wool said. “If I have a button that has a symbol of a flag, is that covered?” Board vice president Matthew Nelson said teachers may want to display flags to show they are a safe person to talk with. “These students exist in our community and they’re not going to go away, so pretending that some students aren’t here or that only some students are appropriate isn’t a policy that we want to make at Bermudian, isn’t a path forward for us,” Nelson said. “So we want to make sure that we find something that works for everyone.” Hotchkiss said the district works to make sure students know which staff members are trained in the Student Assistance Program (SAP). Trained teachers have an indicator next to their doorways showing students that those staff members have received training. SAP is intended to “to assist in identifying issues including alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, and mental health issues which pose a barrier to a student’s success,” according to the state. “We let our kids know who is SAP trained because some kids are just afraid. They have issues that are happening and they need to know who those teachers are that are part of the SAP team and that are trained. And so if you walk around, you’ll see next to somebody’s classroom, ‘This is a SAP place,’ just to give you an idea.” Board member Jennifer Goldhahn said she fears allowing flags in the classroom contributes to an over-politicized environment. She said the intersectionality (pride) flag is “political” and can cause division. Nelson argued that identities are not political. “Students, of course, are free to believe whatever they believe, and parents will raise their students to believe whatever they believe, but that doesn’t change the fact that who a student is and what they believe and how they act isn’t a political statement,” Nelson said. “Students that are LGBTQ, that’s not politically debatable. That’s not a political statement. They exist, and they exist in our community and they exist in our schools.” Goldhahn stressed that all students should be loved and respected but felt the school needs to be neutral. “This is about a political point of view being pushed on children and other students who don’t agree with it,” Goldhahn said. “We can embrace the differences, but the differences don’t have to be pushed on other students. I would never ask anyone to pretend to be someone or something they are not, because then you are not being true to yourself.” Board members debated whether restricting flags would remove inclusive symbols or whether allowing flags would open a path to Nazi, Confederate or other symbols being displayed. Nelson said that while SAP training and guidance counselors are helpful, showing students that they are recognized and that safe people to talk to are in the school could be a sign of compassion rather than a political statement. Nelson wondered whether discussing the policy when so few complaints have been brought to administration would create a “self-fulfilling prophecy” leading to more distractions and complaints. Goldhahn hoped the conversation would embolden those who have felt unable to publicly voice their concerns to administration and the board. Hotchkiss pointed out that despite the differing opinions among the board members, he applauded each of them for coming from a place of concern for students. “I’m always a glass half-full kind of guy, and so what really has stood out to me tonight is the unification of you all wanting to love our kids and focus on bringing everybody together and love our kids,” Hotchkiss said. “We should celebrate that.” The superintendent suggested that the district hold a forum, perhaps employing a facilitator and expert speakers, in order to further study and discuss the topic. While the board did not vote on the issue, several members of the public voiced their thoughts. One individual said the United States and Pennsylvania flags represent all students, making other symbols unnecessary. Another speaker, a former teacher at Bermudian Springs High School, said signs can help students feel safer speaking with that teacher or staff member, adding that signs can serve as “conversation points.” Another told the board that emails with complaints should be passed on to administration so they can be addressed. Others also voiced their thoughts both for and against revising the policy, with one person asking the board to bring in clinicians who can offer their expertise. Allergy training Sarah Nickey, a parent who has addressed the board on two other recent occasions, thanked staff members for completing recent allergy safety training. Nickey said her daughter suffered a severe allergic reaction in a Bermudian school earlier this fall. Since then, she has asked the district to retrain staff members in treating anaphylaxis and using EpiPens. The parent said she believes the training was a necessary investment. “I know the 60 to 75 minutes of training may have seemed long, but it is completely necessary and valuable knowledge to keep our students safe at school,” Nickey said. “I’m very thankful and appreciative that the district took the appropriate action to train all staff, including support staff and substitutes. My hope is that all students with known and unknown allergies will be safer at school, surrounded with staff who are perfectly trained and knowledgeable.” The Bermudian Springs school board typically holds caucus and regular board meetings on separate evenings. In December, both will be held on the same evening. The caucus meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5. The regular meeting will follow at 7 p.m. Meetings are held in the high school auditorium and are live-streamed on the district’s YouTube channel. Agendas are posted to the district’s website.

Adventures in Youth Services at the Adams County Library System

Written by Abbie James, Gettysburg Library Children’s Assistant  Scavenger hunts. Digging for pirate gold. Some fun childhood memories may have surfaced from reading those words. It turns out that hunting for treasure isn’t only exciting for kids—and I get to do it every time a patron comes into the Children’s Department and requests a book. “Unicorn stories?” Absolutely! “What’s the first novel in this dragon series?” I’d be happy to look that up. “It’s a story where a girl gets a gift.” Luckily, I’d just read that one! The best part is, unlike some childhood treasure hunts that involve digging a giant hole in your backyard and finding poison ivy roots instead of valuable artifacts (an unfortunately true story for someone in my family!), the Adams County Library System almost always has the book-gems patrons seek.  When I’m not on a scavenger hunt for a book, another awesome part of working in youth services at the library is planning and hosting story times for kids and events for tweens. It’s always a joy when a three-year-old laughs at a goofy illustration in the story I’m reading aloud or a twelve-year-old shouts the correct answer while playing charades. (We’re allowed to be loud in the Children’s Department!) Sometimes the conversations during events are about books, which is great. I love when a parent who asked for recommendations tells me their child devoured the book I offered. Other times, young patrons talk about what’s going on in their lives. “I just lost my first tooth.” How exciting! “We’re going to a baseball game tomorrow!” What’s your favorite team? I might not know as many facts about jellyfish as you do, but I sure would love to hear them. Discussions that build community and belonging are always welcome at the library.     Another part of my typical day is gathering books that patrons have put on the holds list—and while this next part may not sound glamorous, I enjoy cleaning any possible gunk off the covers before they get to patrons’ hands. (We all know well-loved books sometimes acquire a patina, but I like sparkly-clean library materials!) I get excited to pick up my holds at the library, so I wouldn’t want people to be disappointed about the book they’re looking forward to.  An additional responsibility is pulling books from the Gettysburg branch to fill requests from the other branches in Adams County to exchange part of our collections. This provides more variety for patrons. For example, a branch might ask for a rotation of two bags of young adult graphic novels—so I pull items, check to be sure the branch hasn’t recently had the book, scan, and bag those items for delivery.  Finally, the routine tasks of shelving books and maintaining the face-out displays allow me to stay current on what materials are available when patrons ask for items—which is super important. The computer catalog search is a helpful treasure map—with a giant X-marks-the-spot-answer on the screen. However, sometimes it’s faster if I don’t need the computer—if I already know where to find the glimmering treasures on the shelves all around me.

“Ukrainian Icons” : A Benefit for Victims of the Russo-Ukrainian War

Prof. Kateryna Dovgan of McDaniel College will offer a lecture, “Ukrainian Icons,” as a benefit for victims of the Russo-Ukrainian War, on Sun., Nov. 13, from 2:00-4:00 p.m., at Mount St. Mary’s University’s Knott Auditorium, in Emmitsburg. Prof. Dovgan, an art conservator, teaches art and art history at McDaniel and hails from Kyiv, Ukraine, where she took an MFA at the nation’s Academy of Art and Architecture before working in art conservation both in Ukraine and in Germany before moving to the U.S. in 1998. The lecture is free but asks a goodwill contribution from audience members; donations are sent to “United Help Ukraine” (donate@unitedhelpukraine.org). Mount St. Mary’s University, its Center for Service, and the Town of Emmitsburg are pleased to offer this fundraiser in honor of the Town’s Sister City of Lutsk, Ukraine.

Ordering New Library Materials Takes A Village

By Brandt Ensor, Assistant Executive Director, Adams County Library System In our budget year 2022, the Adams County Library System is scheduled to spend $165,711 on new materials of all types for the six branches of the Adams County Library System. This number also includes e-books and e-audiobooks for our Cloud Library electronic platform. I should note that this number does not include the additional funds we spend on electronic databases, electronic magazines, or the supplies and software needed to make them available to the public for circulation. The amount of $165,711 sounds like a lot of money, and it is healthy materials budget for our sized county. The Adams County Library System prides itself in being a “Most Popular” and “Browsable” library, rather than what some call a research library. Sure, we have plenty of materials that can be used for research and scholarly work, but the non-fiction we do tend to circulate for those purposes also could be considered “Most Popular” non-fiction that anyone browsing the shelves looking for a new book to read might be interested in. Why isn’t the Adams County Library System a research library? Well that is a good question and one that does get asked from time to time. We are very lucky in Adams County to be surrounded by great research libraries including Musselman Library at Gettysburg College, the Wentz Memorial Library at the Gettysburg Campus of United Lutheran Seminary, the HACC library right outside of Gettysburg, and soon, the brand-new Gettysburg Beyond the Battle Museum and Archives which will open in April 2023 by the Adams County Historical Society. These facilities are much more equipped with extensive collections for scholarly researching needs, and we also refer our users to one of these tremendous resources often as their research may dictate. They have the experience, collection, and knowledge to help those doing extensive research on those reference questions that are more of a historical or local nature. While the missions of those organizations speak for themselves, the mission of the Adams County Library System is to open gateways for exploration so our county library system can connect people to opportunities that enrich their lives. As I mentioned previously, the Adams County Library System focuses our collection purchasing on the most popular and requested titles that are published in fiction, non-fiction, young adult, and children’s materials. We unfortunately don’t have the budget to order everything we even want to order, so how do we go about spending our money fairly, evenly, and ensure we get a well-balanced collection… well the truth is… it takes a village.           To start, we take this big job and split it up between our professional librarians and other managers who each get a section each year to provide comprehensive ordering for the entire library system. For me, this year I have Ebooks, so every Friday I am the person who puts in the weekly order and sends it through to appear on CloudLibrary. Every 3 years or so, we switch ordering responsibilities to ensure our collection gets a different set of eyes ordering for it regularly. This allows us to ensure all bases are covered and all views are represented in our ordering.  In Addition to systemwide ordering responsibilities, each branch of the library receives a dollar amount to spend on new children’s books and series. This allows our branch managers to get more ordering experience, while also knowing what the individuals in their communities would really like in their children’s departments. No matter if staff is ordering for the system or for their individual branches, the new books come through Gettysburg to be processed by our fabulous technical services team. They are cataloged, barcoded, covered and sent out to be enjoyed by the masses.   Most of our collections are ordered monthly for items coming out in the future so patrons can place items on hold before they are even released. This also helps us determine how many copies of a particular bestseller to order if the holds list gets long. So it really does take a village to order new materials for the Adams County Library System. If one person tried to do the job, it would be way to much! We always take suggestions for library materials we don’t own. You can fill out the purchase request form on our website, www.adamslibrary.org under the “Services” tab.  Happy November!

Latest News from the Friends of the New Oxford Area Library 

It has been a very busy year for the New Oxford Area Friends. When you visit the library you will notice the new furniture. The Friends were instrumental in the acquisition of the new tables and chairs. These new furnishings are both practical and comfortable. They are easy to clean and sanitize and very easy to move about. This year we were able to once again sponsor the Food Adventures Food Truck at our Annual ACL Book Sale. The food was delicious and a percentage of the profits were donated to the Friends of the NOAL. We will be sponsoring the Food Adventures Food Truck again in 2023. Every year the Library has many summer programs to which the Friends donate. These donations, raised entirely by our fundraising activities and membership dues, help to provide opportunities for our youth during the summer both for fun and for learning. We held a fundraiser at the Gettysburg Perkins Restaurant in the spring and are planning on doing this again. Look for information in the spring of 2023. Our annual Hanover Sweet Frog fundraiser was held in July. This is a great opportunity for everyone to enjoy the delicious frozen yogurt and a portion of your purchase is donated to the Friends of the NOAL. The Friends were excited to host a New Oxford Chamber of Commerce Mixer in May. What a wonderful opportunity to meet and greet the many merchants and business owners in our community. A Paint Event was held at the Brookmere Winery in New Oxford in the fall. Twenty-two ladies were in attendance and painted a lovely snowman and snow covered tree. Food and wine were enjoyed by all present. It was such a success that we are planning on holding another Paint Affair In the spring of 2023. Keep your calendar open for more information on this upcoming activity. Please consider joining the Friends of the NOAL. Membership dues are just $10 for an individual and $20 for a family. We have student and discounts as well as corporate memberships available.

“President Bob” Iuliano talks about the future of Gettysburg College [Episode 65]

Robert W. Iuliano was appointed the 15th president of Gettysburg College in 2019, coming from a position as Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Harvard University. Iuliano came to Gettysburg at almost the same time as COVID and he has spent his first three years dealing with the pandemic. In this interview Iuliano talks about the stresses of the pandemic on students, faculty, parents, and administrators. He acknowledges there have been long-term effects on learning that the college is working to alleviate, but also says that new and effective methods of instruction have come out of the challenges COVID presented. Iuliano also talks about the financial health of the college and the way forward given declining college enrollments across the country. Iuliano outlines some of the ways the college interacts with the community. If you enjoy the podcast, please take a few seconds to support us by signing up for our weekly mailing list. Our podcasts are always free, but we could use your support to keep them coming. Our memberships start at just $4.99 per month, about the price of a cup of coffee at one of our local coffee shops.  It takes 5 minutes to become a Gettysburg Connection member.  Would you help out? Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram. Musical Introduction by Thane Pittman.

Libraries and Quality of Life

I cannot imagine living in a community without a library. Can you?  This is something that I think about on a regular basis now that I work for the Adams County Library. The reason for that is because as the Development Director, I coordinate our fundraisers and reach out to our residents in Adams County to raise money for our library. Each year we need to raise between 25% and 30% of our budget in donations to provide services at our six branch locations. With your continued support, we are able to provide a variety of engaging and enriching programs for all ages. Your donations allow us to continue to provide early literacy programs so that our youngest residents enter school ready to learn, book clubs to engage curious library users of all ages in reading and learning, and explore interests and ideas via presentations on many subjects.  There are many ways to give to the Adams County Library System and countless reasons to donate. One of the most touching is by donating in memory or in honor of someone. Often, when a lifelong library user or an avid reader, or a loved one passes away, we receive donations in their memory to the library. When we receive donations like these or when memorial or honor books are purchased, we notify the family that we received a donation in their loved one’s honor. Did you know that as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, we accept gifts from Donor Advised Funds, IRA Charitable Rollovers, stock, life insurance, and bequests from wills and trusts? It’s true! We are forever grateful for charitable bequests and thank our donors as a part of our ACLS Legacy Circle.  Our library is fortunate to have several endowments that provide a steady and reliable income each year. If you are interested in creating an endowment that will support the library into perpetuity, please contact us for more information. We are grateful for donors who decide to invest for the future. Your donation shows a vested interest in the longevity of the library’s mission and purpose in Adams County.    We also appreciate the support and donations we receive from the Adams County Community Foundation’s Giving Spree each year. It is an amazing day of giving to the participating nonprofits and an overwhelming outpouring of support.  Are you planning to participate in the Giving Spree again this year? We would be grateful if you would include the Library in your donation. Please consider the value of both the today fund and forever fund options. It doesn’t have to be an “or” decision. If you feel that it is important to help us now with your donation and would also like to invest in our endowment- we appreciate both!  The Library’s code is #13 on the Giving Spree form. There are three ways to donate through the Giving Spree: Mail your check payable to ACCF with the donation form to arrive by November 3rd, drop off your gift at the Gettysburg Times on November 3rd from 1 pm to 5 pm, or give online at ACCFGivingSpreecan .org on November 3rd. Thank you for choosing to support the Adams County Library with your donations. We also want to thank you for being a patron of the library and are beyond grateful for those who choose to volunteer their time at the library. It is your support that reminds us of the impact the library has in our community and of our relationship with the residents of Adams County.  Submitted by Erica Duffy, ACLS Development Director. Please contact her for more information at EricaD@adamslibrary.org or 717-809-9190

GASD school board approves property sale/partnership and long range plan

The Gettysburg school board unanimously approved the sale of a building lot on Hunterstown Rd. to the Adams County chapter of Habitat for Humanity at its meeting last night. The sale is at market rates and the intention is that a partnership will be developed between Adams County Technical Institute and Habitat to construct an affordable house. Under the concept tentatively approved, Habitat would provide the design, approve and mentor the family, arrange the financing and mortgage, and service the mortgage once the house is completed. ACTI students will work on the house, gaining valuable construction experience. Habitat and ACTI will share management of the project, with ACTI faculty supervising the student work and the Habitat partner family working on weekends. “It’s a great opportunity for us,” said Habitat’s local president, Bill Tyson. “And we’re happy to have a chance to work with ACTI. The Board also approved the school district’s Future Ready Comprehensive Plan. This state-mandated plan was prepared by a committee of more than 25 district employees and members of the public who met over the winter and spring to review school operations and plans. Assistant Superintendent Christine Lay explained that “action plan steps are goals for next three years, specifically a data team to look at school data, be more public about student data, also dealing with the social, emotional and mental health needs of our students.” “We also have to put up our gifted ed plan, with which not much has changed, our professional development plan, and our induction plan,” said Lay. The board approved the plan, with Ryan Morris, Jeremy Davis, and Michelle Smyers Superintendent Jason Perrin updated on the countywide feasibility study for ACTI. The committee is “taking a look at expanding opportunities for students to be more aligned with the needs of various industries … to provide an opportunity both for kids to be made aware and get training,” he said.

Adams County Library, Bigerville-Style

The Harbaugh-Thomas Library in Biglerville, a branch of the Adams County Library System (ACLS), opened its doors fifteen years ago on August 20, 2007. Today, older community members express their surprise that it has been here that long, and younger people or first-time visitors can’t believe the library hasn’t been here forever.  With architectural features such as the cupola and the Palladian window modeled after Mount Vernon, and the columned entrance with a balcony inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s mansion in Hyde Park, New York, the library has the traditional look of a historical building. The Harbaugh-Thomas Library is a living, breathing partnership between the ACLS and the Harbaugh-Thomas Foundation.  The Foundation manages and utilizes funds bequeathed by sisters Marion Thomas Harbaugh and Jean Thomas to maintain the library building and its grounds. In the 1990s, the sisters, owners of the Thomas Bros. Country Store in Biglerville, purchased land from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church with the dream of building a library. Through the combined vision and efforts of the sisters, the members of the Harbaugh-Thomas Foundation and the ACLS administrative team, that dream was fulfilled in 2007. While Jean Thomas passed away in 2003 before the blueprints for the building were created, Marion Thomas Harbaugh was able to enjoy the library for years before her death at age 90 in 2015.   It continues to be a wonderful partnership between the Harbaugh-Thomas Foundation and the ACLS. The library staff are ACLS employees, and the materials, including books, audiobooks, DVDs, and magazines, are selected and purchased by the ACLS. The building and grounds, however, are owned and maintained by the Harbaugh-Thomas Foundation. The foundation funded the creation of the building, and now they keep the lights on, the lawn mowed, the heat working and more! The Foundation, with the guidance of current board president Dr. James Spertzel, was a driving force in creating a vibrant library Teen Center in 2019, an afterschool resource for kids in 7th to 12th grade. Anyone who has ever been responsible for the upkeep of a building knows the time and funds needed to keep things running smoothly and looking good, and the Foundation’s diligent efforts are greatly appreciated. This partnership has been a huge benefit for the ACLS and ultimately for the community we serve. To this day, the Harbaugh-Thomas Library has the distinction of being the only branch of the Adams County Library System that was built to be a library, rather than being in a repurposed building! This makes for a library well-suited to house materials in an accessible manner and accommodate the numerous educational and recreational programs that are offered each year, not to mention many lovely areas for leisurely reading. We also offer two meeting rooms that can be reserved by the community–free for not-for-profit groups, and available for a modest fee by for profit businesses and private individuals. The wi-fi is excellent throughout the building and extends to the immediate surrounding grounds. Our staff of 4 strive to be welcoming and helpful to library users of all ages. I see the library as a true community anchor, and I hope you have the chance to stop by soon!  Adams County Library is participating in this year’s Giving Spree on November 3rd and we are #13. For more information on how to participate, please contact Erica Duffy, ACLS Development Director at ericad@adamslibrary.org.

Bermudian parent expresses concerns about allergens

A Bermudian Springs parent approached the school board on Tuesday evening demanding the district retrain its teachers after her child was allegedly exposed to allergens while in school in September. Sarah Nickey, a parent of a third-grade student, told the board last month that her child had to be treated at two hospitals after being given a snack that contained allergens despite the child having a 504 plan. Nickey addressed Shane Hotchkiss, superintendent of Bermudian Springs, and asked that the entire district receive updated training. “She is still experiencing aftereffects mentally and emotionally,” Nickey said. “I’m here tonight to ask what kind of training, reeducation and information was given to the teachers in the elementary school and the rest of the district.” “I would like you to share with me what educational training was provided for the teachers,” Nickey said. “Have they received EpiPen training? Have the expectations for 504 plans been reviewed, including the specific 504 plans of every student in each building? What precautions have you put in place besides the ones I requested at that meeting for my own child? To my knowledge, only certain individuals were retrained, and the rest of the faculty received an email telling them to closely review IEPs, 504s and nurse alerts. An email is not retraining. I’m here not only for my own daughter but for every child in this district who has a health issue, 504 plan or IEP.” Hotchkiss did not speak publicly regarding the incident, but said he told Nickey the elementary school staff, not all district staff, would be retrained. “I believe I indicated that we would retrain the entire elementary school,” Hotchkiss told Nickey. “We’ve done other things district-wide.” Hotchkiss said there are things “we can get better at. However, I also shared with you it’s a learning opportunity for the whole district, so we’ve done things in other buildings because obviously there’s things that we can do that are replicated across the building, not just with that student, that we can get better at,” Hotchkiss said. He said he would speak privately with Nickey following the meeting. Solicitor Brook Say was not addressed directly by Nickey and did not comment on the incident. During her report, she said her office “advised on various personnel and student matters.” Last month following Nickey’s first complaint, Hotchkiss said answering reporter questions about the incident would risk maintaining confidentiality. He addressed the policy as a whole. “What I can say is that the District has a policy and a normal protocol for supporting students under Section 504,” Hotchkiss said via email on Sept. 16. “For students with 504s, we evaluate them and on the basis of that evaluation and then draft a plan if they are eligible. The plans are reviewed by staff responsible for implementing them and are updated as need be. If there are concerns with the implementation, the team meets to address those concerns with the parent. We take seriously our obligations under Section 504 and always work with legal counsel to address concerns that arise.” Other business Board member Travis Mathna asked the board to discuss a district policy, but the issue was not placed on the agenda prior to the meeting. Over the next several minutes, the board discussed the proper procedure for handling the motion. Portions of the audio were difficult to hear or contained silence. Vice President Matthew Nelson, who was leading the meeting in the absence of President Michael Wool, expressed confusion with the procedure. “We also haven’t always done a great job – I’ve been here a little while, though, too, and I don’t always  understand even our own ideas of how to get stuff onto the agenda,” Nelson said. Hotchkiss said that adding an item to the caucus agenda normally begins with an email to Wool. Adding items to the agenda ahead of the meeting is done in an effort to increase transparency. Mathna said he would send an email to request that the policy be discussed during the board’s next caucus meeting in November. The board approved one extracurricular contract for a varsity girls assistant soccer coach. It also agreed to work with McClure Company to complete work at the high school and elementary schools using money provided through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III.) The board approved allowing the Eagle Singer and Steel Band to perform at a tree lighting event in York Springs in December. The board will hold its next caucus meeting on Monday, Nov. 7 and its next regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 8. Both meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in the high school auditorium and are livestreamed through the district’s YouTube channel.

CVSD considers building updates

The Conewago Valley school board discussed its ongoing feasibility study for replacing or updating buildings during the board’s meeting on Monday evening. Superintendent Sharon Perry said the district should be prepared to have a feasibility study meeting with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates next month. The district is comparing scenarios for updating its buildings. “We’re targeting mid-November for our next formal meeting where Crabtree and Rohrbaugh will be coming back with a conceptual design, potentially for a K-3 facility that would either be on the NOE (New Oxford Elementary) site or on the fields back behind the middle school,” Perry said. “And compare that, then, to what would be complete renovations at both CTE (Conewago Township Elementary) and NOE.” The last published update to the feasibility study was from Sept. 12. A .pdf with the update can be viewed here. “We have aging facilities and we want to be able to provide the very best 21st century learning opportunities that help to support our students,” Perry said. Perry told the board she has also been working to apply for a grant through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. “That’s about a $314,000 grant that we can expect to come forward to help us not only with some of our safety practices, but also for our mental health initiatives,” Perry said. The board approved several personnel actions, including the hire of a data manager curriculum leader for grades K-12. Multiple extracurricular contracts for chess, bowling, boys’ and girls’ basketball, wrestling and swimming were also approved. Dr. Rob Walker, assistant superintendent of the district, said the district is working on developing its math curriculum. Walker has been encouraged by the interest of the teachers. “I think probably the most rewarding part of the process was, for me, seeing approximately 18 teachers who volunteered their time to be there with mathematics curriculum readers to be a part of this process,” Walker said. “That really shows that our teachers want ownership in this process. We care deeply about the work we do here.” Public comment Two individuals addressed the board during the time for public comment. Louann Boyer, vice president of the Conewago Township board of supervisors, briefly spoke near the end of the meeting. “I understood that there was a request to have supervisors or township officials come to some of your meetings because that way we can interact a little bit,” Boyer said. Boyer said she has several children and grandchildren who attended CVSD schools or currently attend, as well as a daughter who is employed by the district. “Anything I can help with as a Conewago Township supervisor, please, let us know,” Boyer said. Board President Edward Groft said cooperation between the district and township could be beneficial. “There are times when you could give us information that would help us make some of the decisions that we do make,” Groft said. Another individual said the band played the National Anthem “very nicely,” adding that it would be nice to also hear the words sung. The board held an executive session prior to starting the open meeting, according to Groft.  The board will hold a study session at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14. Meetings are held in the district office and are typically available to watch live on the district’s YouTube channel. A feasibility study meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15 in the district office.

Rhonda Rose recognized in LASD Staff Spotlight

Rhonda Rose was put in the Staff Spotlight at Monday night’s Littlestown Area School District (LASD) school board meeting. The Spotlight highlights the work of LASD staff who have made substantial contributions to the district. Rose has worked for the Lincoln Intermediate Unit since 1983 and has been at LASD since 2010. She currently works at the Maple Avenue Middle School in the Multiple Disabilities Support Classroom. Rose has helped many severely disabled students in different capacities and venues. “I work with that 1 percent of students that takes the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) test that is given to those with most significant intellectual disabilities,” she said. Rose said she felt like home at LASD because, like the current situation at LASD, she attended a school where grades K-12 were all in the same building. Rose enthusiastically shared memories of her work and her personal experiences with students, saying she was working this year with four students, each with different schedules. “The students and staff have opened their arms and kind of hugged us,” she said. She said she had been given more from the students than she had ever been able to give them. Rose said she was expecting to retire at the end of the school year. Board members praised Rose, thanked her for her service, and gave her a round of applause for her work. Dr. Fissel and Mrs. Hahn reviewed the substantial learning gains preschool students had made during the Early Childhood Summer Academy that has been held over the past two years. Fissel said 30 students participated in the program at a cost of about $1,000 per student.  The program is paid for using federal Covid-19 (ESSERS) money. Fissel cited substantial gains in among the students in emotional maturity. “It’s huge,” he said. The four-week program includes teaching basics such as following directions, keeping hands to oneself, and lining up for the bus. Fissel said he did not know what the future of the program would be. “We need to do something for our students,” he said. Board members asked whether there was research demonstrating the long-term improvements of the program and Hahn said the school was tracking the performance of the students. Hahn said the students who had been through the program had not had any difficulties integrating. The board also spent some time discussing the Adams County Technical Institute and the ways it might grow in the future. The board will sponsor an informational meeting for people interested in running for school board on Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom. The next regularly-scheduled board meeting will be Oct. 17.

Littlestown library is small but provides many services

by Jess Shelleman, Branch Manager, Littlestown Library If you’ve been to Littlestown Library, a branch of the Adams County Library System, you’ve most likely met me (Jess – Miss Jess to the kiddos). You’ve also definitely met Kat. Being one of the smaller branches of ACLS, our branch library is run with only two employees: myself, the Branch Manager, and Kat, our Library Assistant. Being a staff of two, our days are full. In addition to presenting programs and helping you, our patrons, with book requests, reference questions, and tech help, there is a LOT that goes on behind the scenes. And I promise you, it does not involve sitting at our desks and reading books all day long…unless, of course, I happen to be prepping for upcoming story times. Being a small branch with only the two of us, we rely on the main branch in Gettysburg for support in several areas. One of the main areas in which this support comes is with books; after all, what is a public library without books! While we try to maintain as many and as varied titles as we can at Littlestown, our shelf space is limited. The Gettysburg Library is the largest branch in the county and is able to store the majority of the county collection on its shelves. It allows the system as a whole to have a larger variety of titles than if we were limited to a single, small library. And at any time, our patrons can request items from Gettysburg or any of the other branches, and they will be loaded onto the ACLS delivery van to be brought straight to Littlestown Library. Speaking of requesting items, did you know that we have the ability to access titles from every library in Pennsylvania through a program called Access PA? ACLS has an interlibrary loan librarian who works out of Gettysburg Library, and every day it’s their job to sort through item requests, contact libraries across the state to request the specific titles, and process each interlibrary loan that comes in before they are sent off to each of the branch libraries for the requesting patrons. In addition to getting brand-new items throughout the year, each week we receive several bags of new-to-us books/DVDs/audiobooks from the Gettysburg Library to help us keep a variety of titles on our shelves. At Littlestown, we’ll go through one or more of our sections and pull off some of the titles we’ve had longer and send them back to Gettysburg. On Gettysburg’s end, they do the same thing, but on a bit larger scale. While at Littlestown, we only focus on one or two sections a week, the staff at the Gettysburg Library are responsible for pulling and sending rotations from different areas of the library to each of the other five branches in the system. This is a process that runs nearly every week year-round. This brings us around to new items! ACLS adds thousands of physical books, DVDs, and audiobooks (plus e-items) to the collection every year. Each of these physical items passes through our tech services department. At a smaller branch, it would be impossible to add so many items. At Gettysburg, each item must go through being added to the catalog and processed before it can be sent out to the branches. This wouldn’t be possible without the staff of the tech services department. Beyond just books and other items for and in our collection, Gettysburg Library offers support in other ways. It offers plenty of office space for many behind-the-scenes staff members and services, such as development, finances, and marketing, among other things. People who take care of tasks that help to keep the library running smoothly and that allow Kat and me to take care of our number one job every day: taking care of you, our patrons. Adams County Library is participating in this year’s Giving Spree on November 3rd, and we are #13. For more information on how to participate, please contact Erica Duffy, ACLS Development Director, at ericad@adamslibrary.org.

FASD honors staff; considers bathroom challenges

Several community members addressed the Fairfield Area School board at its regular meeting on Monday Sep. 26 with concerns about the district’s bathroom policies. During the board’s regular meeting, board solicitor Gareth Pahowka gave a statement before public comment opened. “We understand there are some concerns about the district’s implementation of federally-mandated protections for transgender students,” Pahowka said. Pahowka said gender identity is a protected class that includes transgender students, and that students seeking accommodations must go through an approval process. Pahowka said students are not allowed to access other bathrooms without gaining approval. “To the extent other students are uncomfortable sharing facilities with transgender students, the district will work with those students to explore reasonable privacy accommodations or alternatives,” Pahowka said. Afterwards, several speakers, many identifying themselves as parents of students within the district, voiced concerns about the policy. “There will be children that will take advantage of this and something bad will likely happen,” one person said. “I am not happy that we were not notified that this policy went into effect, at all,” another speaker said. The board said it would respond to questions from the speakers individually following the meeting. During the meeting, Haupt honored Chuck Engel and Regina Lee for 25 years of service. He also gave awards to Ken Haines, Daniel Irwin, Siri Phelps, and John Ridge for 20 years of service. Some of the employees were not present during the meeting but were acknowledged. Haupt thanked the employees who received service awards for helping students succeed. Each received a certificate and a gift card. Irwin took the opportunity to thank the board. “It’s a thankless job often, and I appreciate all of your efforts,” Irwin said. Siri Phelps also thanked everyone involved at Fairfield. Haupt read comments from Ridge, who was unable to attend the meeting. The board will hold its next regular meeting at 7:00 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10 in the district board room. Meetings are normally livestreamed on the district’s YouTube page.

Adams County Reads One Book Programs Announced

by Jessica Laganosky, Branch Director, Trone Memorial Library Get ready to join the celebration with the Adams County Library System in October as each Adams County Library hosts programs and discussions featuring this year’s Adams County Reads One Book selection, “Leave Only Footprints” by Conor Knighton! If you have not had an opportunity to read “Leave Only Footprints” yet, copies are available for hold request at each Adams County Library location. There are also copies available for request through cloudLibrary as an eBook and as an eAudiobook. For those who wish to discuss the book with other community members, discussion meetings will take place on the following dates and times and locations: Gettysburg Library, Friday, October 7th at 10am; Littlestown Library, Wednesday, October 12th at 6pm; New Oxford, Thursday, October 13th at 10am; Carroll Valley, Wednesday, October 19th at 2pm; Harbaugh~Thomas in Biglerville, Thursday, October 20th at 1pm; and Trone Memorial Library of East Berlin, Tuesday, October 25th at 6:30pm. In addition, those interested in virtual discussions can register to receive a Zoom link for the following dates and times: Saturday, October 1st at 10:30am; Sunday, October 16th at 1pm; and Tuesday, October 25th at 4pm. There are quite a number of programs and events also taking place in October; registration is required for most of these programs. The first major One Book program, “Live Interactive Virtual Tour of Yellowstone National Park,” hosted by the Trone Memorial Library of East Berlin, is Thursday, October 6th at 6pm. Ashea Mills of Walking Shadow Ecology Tours will virtually take participants through the park, answering questions along the way. This is a virtual program, so participants can view from home or stop by the Trone Memorial Library, the New Oxford Library, or the Harbaugh~Thomas Library to watch the program with other community members! Stop by New Oxford Library weekly from the 3rd to the 22nd for their National Park Crossword Challenge from the National Parks Foundation. There will be a new crossword puzzle each week, and find out the answers to the previous puzzles! New Oxford will also host “Gettysburg National Military Park and Monuments” on Tuesday, October 18th at 3pm. Registration is recommended. Gettysburg Library staff member John will discuss his experiences as a National Parks Ranger on Thursday, October 27th at 6:30pm at the Gettysburg Library. Also in Gettysburg, if you love trivia, join in on National Park Trivia Night on Tuesday, October 11th at 6:30pm. Carroll Valley will host “Recollections of a National Park Ranger” with Brion FitzGerald on Thursday, October 20th at 6:30pm. In Littlestown, learn about nature photography with their program “Capturing the Beauty of the Outdoors” on Wednesday, October 19th at 6:30pm. Harbaugh~Thomas Library in Biglerville will host Ed Riggs and his presentation “What You Miss In Our National Parks If You Stay in the Car” on Wednesday, October 26th at 6:30pm. If you love documentaries, Gettysburg Library and New Oxford Library will host viewings of “Our Planet” and “Our Great National Parks.” Stop by New Oxford Library on Friday, October 7th and Friday, October 28th from 5pm-7:30pm to view episodes of “Our Great National Parks,” which is a Netflix documentary. Gettysburg Library will show “Our Planet” on Saturday, October 22nd and Saturday, October 29th, from 10am-2pm. Visit www.adamslibrary.org/events for more information on the above programs. Check out the Event Calendar too for programs for children and young adults that also feature themes from “Leave Only Footprints.” Hope to see you at one of these exciting events!

Library Funding 101

By Jeff Cann, ACLS Finance Director As the Adams County Library System’s Finance Director, I frequently hear about a common misconception: “What do you even do? Aren’t the library’s finances managed by the County Controller’s office?” Well, no. Library workers aren’t Adams County employees. We’re a nonprofit, just like United Way or the Red Cross. The follow-up question is usually “So you need to fundraise raise all of your money?” The answer to that is sort of, most of it. Think of the library income like a pie. Taken from the 2022 budget, largest pie piece, by far, comes from local municipalities. 45% of our funding comes from local boroughs, townships and especially the county. There aren’t any individual taxes levied for library funding, but the various municipalities make annual budget appropriations to keep the library’s six branches operating. The next largest source of funding comes from the state of Pennsylvania. This year, just over a quarter of our funding came from the Public Library Subsidy. This is awarded to all public Pennsylvania libraries that meet the standards in the Public Library Code. What standards? The state enforces requirements such as specific educational qualifications for library staff, designated hours of operations, the amount expended on library materials (such as books, DVDs, magazines, newspapers and electronic databases for public use) and accessibility (including physical and electronic access to library materials). A tiny, but high-profile slice of our funding is earned income. This includes fines for overdue or lost items, reimbursement by patrons for printing and copying, and the money we make from our annual events—our June Funfest and our autumn Signature Event author visit.  Like many long-living nonprofits, the library draws income from various investments and endowments. These include our Named Endowments (money set aside by donors to annually fund specific items in perpetuity), distributions from investment accounts built by large gifts and bequests over our seventy-seven-year history, and income from several beneficial trusts established by philanthropists to provide permanent funding to area nonprofits. These investments fuel up to 11% of our annual funding. The rest of our funds are raised from individual donors, businesses and grant-making foundations. This income has risen steadily over the past ten years and now accounts for about 15% of our budgeted revenue. These contributions include donations to buy a book in honor of a loved one (this can be done via our website), keep-the-change transactions at our circulation desks, responses to our annual appeal, and even a quarter dropped in a dinosaur bank in the children’s area of your local branch. Our support comes from all corners of the county. The generosity of county residents, municipalities and grant-makers has created a county-wide library system we can all be proud of. If you would like to help fund a piece of this pie, check out the ‘support the library’ tab of our website—adamslibrary.org. It lists all the ways you can help.

LASD to address behavior issues; Will review policies on dress codes and cell phones

As school enters its second month, Littlestown Area School Superintendent Christopher Bigger said “It feels like school. It was a really smooth start to the year.”  Bigger thanked the staff for their hard work. District enrollment is decreasing, moving down to 2,007 total students in comparison to last year’s 2,086.  “That enrollment is supporting the idea of consolidation at this point,” said Bigger. There are only 114 Kindergarten students when normal class sizes had been in the 150 range. “That’s a really small class for us,” he said. Bigger said the percentage of students who do not come to campus has remained steady at about 10 percent, but that there had been an increase in the number of students who are home schooled. Bigger said the district was still short some support staff, including custodial, personal care assistants, and teaching assistants. Bigger reminded people that social media is not always reliable. “If you don’t hear it from us, it’s not factual,” he said. “If we have facts, we will usually send a statement out. If it’s not factual you’re not going to hear from us.” Bigger said the building projects were moving forward and meetings with the township were in the works.  “The timelines are tight,” he said. Behavior issues “We do see across the district where we’re trying to reorient students to correct behaviors.  There were a few years where everything was just a little more loose and accepting of things. We’re in a kind of correction phase,” said Bigger.  Bigger said students from Kindergarten through 8th grade would be participating in behavioral correction programs.  The programs will include “focusing on correct positive behaviors, having rewards systems in place to reorient them, as well as the consequential side,” he said. After comments by board member Carl Thompson, the board asked the administration to review policies on dress codes and cell phones and their enforcement and report back to them. Thompson said he had heard from many people about their displeasure with these issues and asked how teachers were being supported enforcing the policies. Other business Student reports from the high school included the decoration of senior parking spaces, the upcoming homecoming events on Oct. 14 and 15, the yearbook, and the fall play. At the Middle School a Winter Wonderland Dance is being considered. The district needs a family to house an exchange student. Board member Yancy Unger said he had heard from an employee who was desperately looking for people to work in this business.  Younger said the training provided by the Adams County Technical Institute (ACTI) would be helpful in providing employees.  Younger said state representative Torren Ecker was helpful in getting funds for the ACTI. The district accepted a $360 donation from Flying Feet Running Progams for  sweatshirts for the cross-country team.  The district will sell old and unused boys soccer uniforms to the public for $5 each.  Funds will go toward new uniforms.

Big HVAC project under review at GASD; Asst. Superintendent Lay will retire

At its regular board meeting on Tuesday evening, the GASD school board approved replacement of the high school athletic field and received a final briefing on the $33.8 million HVAC replacement at Lincoln and James Gettys elementary schools. A final vote to approve the latter project is anticipated at the next scheduled meeting, September 19. Four members, AmyBeth Hodges, Ryan Morris, Jeremy Davis, and Timon Linn, had excused absences. Public Comment Two citizens spoke during public comment. Laurie Schneider expressed concern and requested status about the hiring of school resource officers. President Ken Hassinger took the occasion to give a full status report. The district has advertised for additional SROs, but the Board is still looking at the budget. The advertisement was for a fulltime director, who has been hired (Pat O’Shea) and two additional officers. The timing of getting them all in place is uncertain because it is a lengthy process, first interviewing and hiring, then extensive training. The school district currently relies on Gettysburg Borough, Cumberland Township, and the state police barracks for Franklin Elementary School. Hassinger agreed that response time is an issue but stated that there is extensive planning and coordination. Jay Rohrbach expressed concern about the proposed HVAC project, in particular that a single contractor will be selected for design and all other aspects of the project. Routine Business and Announcements Dr. Christina Lay, deputy superintendent, is retiring at the end of December. The board approved the project to replace the high school athletic field by a vote of 5-0. The 2022-2025 future ready comprehensive plan has been developed as the result of a lengthy planning process involving a committee made up of school district employees and members of the public. This is an important assessment of the current situation and a plan for the future. Dr. Lay said it would be posted “after this meeting” for 28 days comment and then presented for final approval in October. The major item of business, taking approximately 40 minutes of the hour-long meeting, was a presentation of the final plan for the HVAC project at James Gettys and Lincoln elementary schools. The original plan was modified to defer the administration building to keep the project within the budget. As redefined, the budget for the two schools is $33.789 million. The project involves more than the HVAC system, including replacing roofs and ceilings, electrical system upgrades, and installing LED lights, which will be programmable for optimum lighting and reduced energy consumption. Finally, data lines will be replaced although, with wireless, it’s anticipated there will be far fewer lines. Trane Comprehensive Solutions is the selected contractor, and the project is scheduled to start Spring 2023. A decision by the September 19 meeting is needed to ensure the contract is finalized before December 31 and to avoid anticipated price hikes after the New Year. Several board members expressed concerns about the project. Michelle Smyers repeated a question she had asked previously, whether maintenance records indicated the existing systems were at the end of their service lives. But the decision was made from building assessments so maintenance issues weren’t a factor. There were also concerns about the bidding method and project design decisions that resulted in only a single company (Trane) bidding. For example, Barton Associates, designer, declined to work for another potential bidder, McClure, which resulted in McClure pulling out of the bidding.

Arendtsville Lions give almost 500 earbuds to UASD students

When the Arendtsville Lions Club contacted Upper Adams Intermediate School to see if there was a need for school supplies for any of their students, the answer they received was a bit of a surprise.  According to Principal Sonia Buckley, the school district does a good job of providing basic instructional supplies, such as pencils, paper, crayons, colored pencils, and erasers. In addition, the school had already arranged for students in need to receive backpacks and clothing to start the school year form other organizations.   “I can tell you the one item that we always are running out of (or the kids are loosing) are earbuds.  Teachers have kids working on individual programs on the computer, so they require them to have earbuds,”  wrote Mrs. Buckley. Upper Adams School District provides each student in the Intermediate School with a laptop computer for use during the school day.  The computers are an integral part of instruction, and the use of earbuds allows students to work without distracting their peers. Using the guidance provided by Mrs. Buckley, the club found a source for the earbuds at a very reasonable price.  With the amount of money the club had budgeted for this project, they purchased 475 sets of earbuds, which were recently delivered to the school.  Each set of earbuds came in its own case, which was imprinted with the Lions Club logo.  The earbuds will be distributed to students by the teachers on an “as needed” basis throughout the school year.   Featured image caption: Front Row L-R:  UAIS students Jillian Ramsey, Madelyn Asper, Wyatt Ruck, Carley Cramer, Fineas Hollabaugh, and Brooklyn Davis. Back Row:  Arendtsville Lions Club members Gloria Weant and Deb Gibbons; UAIS Principal Sonia Buckley and Assistant Principal Jared Mummert [Arendtsville Lions Club]

Not your Grandma’s Library

By Sherrie DeMartino, Branch Manager of the Carroll Valley Library Being one of the old-timers with the library system, I have seen a lot of changes over the course of my library career. Believe it or not, when I first started in 1995, the library was not even computerized. Library cards were made of paper that had a rectangular metal strip with a number imprinted on it. That number was assigned to you whenever you applied for a library card. Your name was typed on the top of the card (with a typewriter!). When you wanted to check a book out, the book’s card (that was located inside a pocket when you opened the front cover of the book) would be put in a machine along with your library card, stamped with your library card number, and then replaced with a due date card. The next morning, the librarians would file the cards alphabetically or numerically in a wooden box. I remember that distinctly, because one morning, I knocked the box over and spent a long time paying for my clumsiness! The way that you look up a book has changed too. Does anyone remember the old card catalog drawers? Each book had three index cards typed up to place in the card catalog. The first one listed the book by title, the second by author, and the third by subject heading. The card catalog cabinet took up a lot of space and typing all of those cards for each book was definitely labor intensive. In 1995, the internet was just starting to show up on the scene. I remember staying after work to use my new yahoo e-mail account because no one had the internet or a computer at home yet. Hard to imagine, now that everyone carries a computer/cell phone in their pocket. When I first started, the library was all about books and that was about it. Over the years, we have seen VHS movies added to the system and then replaced with a huge collection of DVDs (classics, new releases, and everything in between). Audiobooks, an invention first made for the blind, started becoming popular with commuters and were added on cassette and then eventually on CD. As life has become more and more computerized, the library has added many on-line databases, like HeritageQuest, Mango Languages, and JobNow, that you can easily access for your research needs. We have also added e-books and e-audiobooks that you can read or listen to on your electronic devices. These became incredibly popular during the pandemic and continue to be one of our most circulated items. Most of our library materials are housed in our main library that is located in Gettysburg. Over the years, we have developed a way to keep the collections at the smaller branches new and interesting by exchanging part of our collection every week with items from the Gettysburg branch. That way, patrons will have different titles to look at when they visit. The Gettysburg Library provides this service through our delivery van that visits us six days a week and through the help of our many library volunteers.

Horses, Libraries and Me

Some of my earliest memories center around books and horses.  I was obsessed with horses from kindergarten.  A lovely brown horse lived in a big pasture about a half mile down the lane behind our house.  I used to walk there, pick grass from outside the pasture fence, and call Folly to come.  While she was standing beside me, I would climb up to the top rail, and slide down her neck onto her back.  Even at that young age, I appreciated that sitting astride a horse is one way to enjoy the view of the world and to explore your environment.   No one could understand where I got my crazy passion for horses from; a passion that my parents said probably gave them every gray hair on their heads!  I didn’t have a horse of my own back then.  But, I remember vividly the way the books in my third grade teacher’s classroom library fulfilled my mind with stories about horses.  I read the same books over and over again–books such as Misty of Chincoteague and Billy and Blaze.  I had a second passion now in addition to horses.  It was books!  In an effort to broaden my reading list, my mother took me to get my first library card at our nearest branch of the Baltimore County library system.  I’ve been reading books about horses plus biographies, mysteries and more, and amassing library cards from all the places I have lived, ever since.   Fast forward fifty years… Volunteers who are Friends of the Trone Memorial Library try to help and encourage others to pursue their passions through reading.  We operate the Friends’ bookstore on the lower level of Trone Memorial.  Someone scans the book donations.  Someone lists some of our donations for sale on Amazon.  Some of us work in the bookstore.  We clean.  We examine books according to their condition.  We shelve and alphabetize books by author and/or category.  (There are a lot of mental gymnastics.  We have to think, “Now, does the letter P come before or after the letter Q?” for example.)  We operate an electronic cash register via Square.  We welcome the visitors to shop and to learn about our activities and events.  We do lots of outreach in the community, because, although we use social media, in a small town such as East Berlin, the personal connections, small flyers, friendliness, and word of mouth go a long way.   During 2022, the Friends of the Trone Memorial Library participated in the community Easter egg hunt, held a Roots for Boots food drive, hosted a two-day yard sale, set up a booth at National Night Out, and held a couple of four-day Fill Your Bag for $5 book sales.  In addition, we have enjoyed some fun-filled trivia night contests in our library’s beautiful community room.   In case you are wondering…The theme for our booth at the National Night Out was…Horses!  We had horse-themed decor and a contest to guess the number of spots on a pony.  Every child who took a guess won a prize.  Prizes included books about horses, coloring books with horses, horse figurines, etc., plus some of our Friends’ membership gifts.   We know that we are making connections in East Berlin, the surrounding areas, and throughout Adams County by becoming a Friends group.  There is a place for many diverse talents within the Friends.  Please come and see us.  Better yet, if you love reading and making friends, please consider volunteering for a Friends group or library in your neighborhood.   Submitted by Jackie King, Secretary, Friends of the Trone Memorial Library

Our first week back at school

For parents, students, and school staff across the county, the last few weeks have gone by in a blur.  Parents’ calendars have been full of new enrollments, registrations, haircuts, clothes and shoes shopping, and doctor’s appointments, while school board members, teachers, and staff members were busy planning open houses, school orientations, “Meet the Teacher” nights, and filling backpack and t-shirt drive orders in preparation for the incoming class of 2022 – 2023.  If your children were as excited as mine, you probably found yourself counting down to the big “Back to School” day. Now that the first week of school has come and gone, I’ve found myself reflecting over the whole experience quite a bit, and I wondered how many parents found themselves doing the same.  The first day of school marked the beginning of a new adventure in our household, as this was not just Josie’s first day of kindergarten, but also our first time being apart as a family since the beginning of the pandemic in March, 2020. As excited as we were that she would not have to miss her old friends, her teachers, or stay behind any longer as she watched the neighborhood kids make their way to their bus stops, we also couldn’t help feeling a little apprehensive for her as well. Many nights I lay awake, recounting all the things Josie and I had gone over, wondering if I had prepared her well enough to adapt to her new surroundings, or if she would feel overwhelmed, shut down, and withdraw into herself.  I wondered if I had made the right choices in schooling Josie at home, until the world made sense again, or if, ultimately my decision had held her back. It didn’t take long to find the answers to these questions and form new alliances. Our fears were laid to rest by the conversations we had with the capable and caring staff of Lincoln Elementary school. Office Secretary Sharon Martin, who patiently allowed us to voice our concerns, and graciously answered every single question, assuring us that our values were in complete alignment with that of Lincoln Elementary, has quickly become one of my favorite staff members. Josie’s Principal, Matthew McFarland is without a doubt the best principal a parent could ask for their child. I don’t believe there is a parent out there who wouldn’t find comfort in the knowledge that their child’s principal is looking after them with the same responsibility they would show for their own.   I further appreciated that Dr. McFarland made it a point to take time out of his schedule, regardless of the meeting he was in, to address my concerns for my daughter. Josie’s teacher, Mrs. Lush, knocked it out of the ballpark. It is hard to put into words how much we appreciate knowing Josie will feel confident, knowing where to go and what’s expected of her, who her teachers will be, and the ability to trust in the school staff. We value the knowledge that Mrs. Lush wants our daughter to succeed as much as we do. Josie’s new skills in how to use a laptop, and how to send us video messages and hear our responses in return, has helped all of us tremendously during the first few days of school, and is something we continue to look forward to with our younger children. I would like to hear from you about your experiences. What would you like to share about your children’s first week back? Did you encounter the same fears as I had about sending your children back to school in a post pandemic world?  Or have you already moved past that? What measures have you implemented, or not implemented, to protect your children?  How did your children react to the news that they would be starting school, and what did you do to prepare them?  Was there anything the schools might have done to make the transition easier for the parents or their children, and what stood out the most? How did the week’s actual events play out differently than your expectations?  And are your children still excited about going to school for their second week? Please leave you comments at the bottom of this story (no signup required) or shoot me an email at hweaver@gettysburgconnection.org.

FASD updates health and safety plan

The Fairfield Area school board approved a mask-optional health and safety plan during its meeting on Monday evening. The board typically streams its meetings on its YouTube channel, but the audio during Monday’s meeting was difficult to understand in many places due to some distortion. Superintendent Thomas Haupt helped fill in the gaps. Haupt said the board unanimously approved its updated health and safety plan, which promises that the district will “continue to encourage students and staff to stay home when not feeling well.” The plan also advises that it reflects the responsibility of individual students and adults. “Specifically, the most recent CDC guidance shifts the focus on mitigation efforts from organizations and entities to the individual and households,” the plan states. “This plan prioritizes our ongoing efforts to safely keep our schools open for in-person instruction.” In the plan, the district states its intention to remain open year-round, but notes that Fairfield Area Cyber Education (FACE) is available for students who would prefer to attend school that way. “If schools would need to be closed for short periods of time, continuity of education will be provided through remote, asynchronous learning,” the plan states. “Services typically provided during a regular school day would continue in the remote environment as well, including access to meals and counseling/support services.” Masks will be optional this year, but the plan advises that “adults and students are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in all school environments such as buildings and transportation due to individual health concerns and to exercise their own caution.” Most staff “routine professional meetings” will be held in person rather than remotely this year, according to the plan, but students may learn outside “as appropriate.” The previous health and safety plan was last revised on Feb. 28. While that version said masks were required during times of high COVID-19 transmission in Adams County, the same plan also allowed parents to submit a “Facial Covering/Mask Exclusion Form.” That form had to be signed by a parent as well as a school nurse and school administrator. In February’s version, all students, regardless of whether they had an exclusion form, were required to remain at home or wear a mask for 10 days after they were exposed to someone with COVID-19. Haupt said the meeting was relatively quiet. “Otherwise, we continue to fulfill our staffing vacancies, recognized our new hires, and additionally recognized the following donations: The District received a donation of 2 backpacks filled with school supplies from Dianna Zimmerman valued at approximately $30,” Haupt said via email. “The District received a donation of school supplies, tissues and bacteria wipes from the American Bikers on a Mission valued at approximately $750.” The board approved hiring two teachers, a part-time special education aide, an online program coordinator, and a secretary for curriculum, special education and student services, according to the agenda. It also added a van and/or bus driver. The board will hold its next regular board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12. Meetings are held in the district board room and are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel, Fairfield Area School District PA.

Fall Fun at the Library

By Robyn Woods, Youth Services Coordinator With days getting cooler and summer coming to a close there is still fun to be had at the library. Being a children’s librarian means that my summer was jam-packed with planning and putting out programs to keep kids engaged. As educational fun is a year-round activity, I am looking forward to all of the fall activities taking place around Adams county for kids of all ages.  You can find fun and educational programs for kids of all ages at each of the library’s six branches. Here in Gettysburg, we have a variety of programs for all to enjoy. There will be edcucautiaonal programs about money, as well as dog safety so we can learn to be safe around our furry four-legged friends. Speaking of friends, children can bring their favorite stuffed bear to the library for a teddy bear tea party that will be held this September.   In October, there will be a Halloween party and spooky activities. For kids 10-17 looking for adventure, you can participate in Dungeons and Dragons at the Gettysburg library or the Littlestown library. In November, there will be a creative writing workshop for teens looking to sharpen their writing skills.  There are many educational opportunities At the Carroll Valley Library. Children can learn about seeing eye puppies, rabbits, and terrific trees. There will also be a lego challenge for those looking to show off their skills with the classic building block.  The Harbaugh-Thomas library in Biglerville has music and dance opportunities for children.  Teens can make their own spooky slides for a microscope, or participating in anime club or a table tennis tournament.  The Harbaugh-Thomas library and the Trone Library in East Berlin are both offering homeschool programs for children in kindergarten through sixth grades. At the Littlestown library, kids can learn about fire safety during their fire prevention day. Kids may also participate in the Kids Scientist programs.  These programs are focused on strawbees, coding, and origami circuits.  Teens visitors to this library can enjoy retro gaming, comic club, and making tiny art. If you are from another library and would like a tiny art kit just let them know and one can be delivered to your local library branch.  At the New Oxford library, kids can make their own hand-crafted maze when they attend the Create a Maze program. They can also learn about the mammals that call Pine Grove Furnance “home” at the Pine Grove Furnace State Park mammal event.  Kids ages 10-17 can “Fall in Love with Leaves” and make their own leaf rubbings.  Teens can also play games and hang out during the teen chat night.  The Trone Memorial library in East Berlin is hosting a multitude of activities for kids and teens. Kids can participate in Thursday Fun Night which includes different themes each week. The library’s smaller guests can attend their stories and sensory play programs. For ages 11-18 there will be a pumpkin painting contest and a light paint night. Teens can also participate in Minecraft night at this library.  If you would like more information on these or any of our programs please visit our website at https://www.adamslibrary.org/ or you can come into our branches and pick up a “What’s happening” guide. This brochure is your guide to all of the events that are taking place this fall.  Some programs do require registration so make sure to save your spot and register for all of the things you would like to do. I can’t wait to see you!

Adult program happenings this Fall at the library

By Jessica Laganosky, Branch Director, Jean Barnett Trone Memorial Library of East Berlin As I write this, the beginning of September is three weeks away. This means great anticipation for the programs and events taking place this fall at each library location. The 3-month fall event calendar is in the final preparation stages, so soon everyone will see all of the exciting programs and events taking place in September-November. Here are just a few of the programs for adults Historian Leslie Goddard returns virtually to the Gettysburg Library to discuss Nancy Drew on Thursday, September 29 th at 6:30pm. Upon registration, attendees will receive a Zoom link to the webinar. Also hosted by the Gettysburg Library, Tuesday Trivia Trap will begin in September, on the second Tuesday of each month, at 6:30pm. This trivia night will feature a different theme each month, and teams can compete for a prize. Those interested may register as a team or as an individual. If you prefer knitting or crocheting or any kind of fiber craft, check out In Stitches, which will meet starting in September on the third Thursday of the month at 6:30pm. Registration is required; bring a craft project to work on with other crafting enthusiasts, or learn how to craft! At the Trone Memorial Library in East Berlin, the popular Architectural Tour series with architect Walt Geiger returns with the second part of the series, a walking tour of the eastern part of town with an in depth discussion of the various architectural details. Space is limited, so registration is required. Girls Craft Night commences in September, on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 6:30pm. This intergenerational program invites groups to create a different craft item each month. Contact the TroneMemorial Library for details! Also, space is very limited for the Scrapbooking Weekend at the library, October 7-8. Contact the library for more details! In Biglerville, the Harbaugh~Thomas Library will feature a program titled “Preventing Dementia: Ways to Optimize Your Brain Health,” on Thursday, Sep. 22 at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Catherine Mauss will discuss risk factors and other causes of dementia, as well as ways to improve your brain health and cognitive decline. New Oxford Area Library is hosting a program titled “Relationship Abuse: What Is It?” on Monday, Oct. 3 and Thursday, Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. A trained facilitator from the YWCA Hanover’s Safe Home will discuss the world of relationship abuse, including discussion of red flags and warning signs for abuse. Registration is not required, but preferred. Carroll Valley Library has a series of Beginner’s Video Production Workshops scheduled on Mondays from Sep. 12 to Oct. 3 at 6:00 pm. Michael McCabe from Hilltop Video Services will cover the basics of video production in the four-part series; attendees will receive a free digital copy of his eBook, The Beginner’s Guide to Video Production Resources. Registration is required. Littlestown Library has a virtual Banned Books Week Trivia on Friday, September 23 rd at 7pm. Register to join in the trivia fun via Zoom, celebrating Banned Books Week. And, the ever popular Virtual Murder Mystery Event returns on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7:00 p.m. with “Horror on the Haunted House Tour.” In this interactive program, you are one of a group of thrill-seeking tourists gathered for a Halloween night ghost tour. The programs above are just a small selection of fall adult programming. Look for more details in the coming weeks on October programs for this year’s Adams County Reads One Book selection, Leave Only Footprints by Conor Knighton. To find out more information about any program, stop by your local library or visit the Adams County Library System website at www.adamslibrary.org.

CVSD approves 2022-25 comprehensive plan; prepares for fall semester

The Conewago Valley school board heard promising updates from administration and school leaders during the board’s meeting on Monday evening. Administrators praised district staff for focusing on training and preparations for the upcoming school year over the summer. Christopher Bowman, principal of New Oxford High School, praised the custodial and office teams, saying the buildings are ready for students. “I know the cleaning process is extensive, and our buildings are not, by any stretch of the imagination, new, but when you walk into our building, they’re pretty pristine,” Bowman said. “They look amazing.” Stephanie Corbin, director of special education, said the training and collaboration by staff will mean there are more resources for students. “It kind of gives me goosebumps just to think about what we’re going to be able to hopefully do and to support even more of our students throughout this upcoming school year,” Corbin said. Christopher Cobb, principal of New Oxford Elementary School, and Autumn Zaminski, principal of Conewago Township Elementary, said they worked to continue the tradition of visiting incoming kindergarten students at home. They also praised staff for preparing for the coming school year, but Cobb cautioned that the planned new playground may be temporarily stalled. “Unfortunately, the supply chain issue has hit metals, plastics and paints for our playground system, so there is a slight delay right now,” Cobb said. He promised to continue to follow up on the situation. Superintendent Sharon Perry said she appreciates seeing the efforts of the staff and faculty as they prepare to welcome new and returning students. “One of my favorite parts of this time of the school year is watching everybody pull together to bring back our young Colonials,” Perry said. Perry said the district has a “phenomenal crew we’re bringing on board” and has focused on professional development as well as safety, both “emotional and physical.” Health and safety One person addressed the board with concerns about potential school violence, referencing the mass shooting in May at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The individual said they have created a safety app they are selling to schools. They offered a “small pilot” of the program to the Conewago Valley school district. “It runs on smartphones, and if you touch a button, everybody in administration knows what’s happening,” the person said. “Live audio/video is saved to the cloud for a chain of evidence and it’s sent to the parents and loved ones of the person that activated the product.” The board did not discuss the offer during the open portion of the meeting. Among other items, the board approved the 2022-23 Health and Safety Plan, which currently lists masks as optional. “The Conewago Valley School District will continue to monitor and review both CDC and PA Commonwealth guidance, mandates, and orders,” the plan states. “If required, students and staff will be reminded of the correct way to wear a mask and/or face shield.” Other items The board also approved the district’s 2022-25 Comprehensive Plan. Several new hires were also approved, including teachers, instructional aides, reading specialists, a high school nurse and more. The board recognized the achievements of the welding fabrication team that won first place at the SkillsUSA national competition recently held in Georgia. “Hopefully we have a team that’s ready to follow in their footsteps for this year,” Edward Groft, president of the school board, said. Executive sessions and future meetings Groft announced that the board discussed personnel issues in a closed session before the open meeting and would do so again after the open session. He said the board would likely hold another executive session during a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 15. The special meeting will be held to discuss a feasibility study by Crabtree and Rohrbaugh. It will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15, earlier in the evening than the board’s typical meeting time. A committee of the whole study session will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12. The next regular public meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19. Meetings are held in the district board room and are also livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

FASD hires new staff for 2022-23

The Fairfield Area school board approved the hire of several more employees on Monday evening, helping put the district in a strong position to begin the 2022-23 school year. The board approved hiring a handful of new teachers, a middle school counselor, a part-time special education aide, a part-time office aid and a coordinator of instructional technology. Those present during the meeting introduced themselves to the board. Lisa Sturges, the board’s legislative liaison, said she was grateful for the new employees as other districts struggle to hire enough employees. “Continued staffing shortages are throughout the commonwealth, but I did want to give a big shout-out to (Superintendent Thomas) Haupt and all of his administrative team for fulfilling our vacancies and making sure that we are going to have a great start to our year,” Sturges said. Sturges advised the board of updates at the state level, noting that the Pennsylvania Department of Education is releasing, “Finding Your Way in PA,” an app designed to help homeless students and their families find resources that can help them. Sturges added that the district also has the opportunity to apply for grants for mental health support. She said she was also happy to report that an investigation into Pennsylvania PSERS (Public School Employees’ Retirement System) resulted in no charges. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice and PSERS leaders announced on Aug. 2 that the investigation had been closed. “So we can all breathe a sigh of relief, because that was worrying some of us when that first came out,” Sturges said. No one spoke during the time for public comment. The board held a closed session before the regular meeting in order to discuss personnel and legal issues, according to Jennifer Holz, president of the board. The board will hold its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22 in the district board room. Meetings are also livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel, Fairfield Area School District PA.

Volunteers at the Libraries

By Sara Edmiston, Public Services Director There are many benefits for those who decide to volunteer for an organization in their community. Yes, it allows them to give back and forge a connection to the community in which they live, but the act of volunteering can also be beneficial on a more personal level. It connects people to others, provides a sense of belonging, keeps a person stimulated, and it helps to build skills that may increase job opportunities. Volunteers are crucial to the success of the Adams County Library System, and we’re lucky to have a strong force county-wide that helps us to meet the demands for quality public service. So how do volunteers support the library system? Some of our volunteers assist us in planning and implementing special events and programming. FunFest would not have been a successful family event to kick off Summer Quest, without the volunteers who assisted with setup, parking, clean up, tear down and all of the other necessary parts of running a mini festival. They work behind the scenes by serving on committees such as the Adams County Reads One Book committee or the Signature Event committee. They plan story times and read to children. They give their time and knowledge to present on a topic that they have expertise in, or they assist their branch of choice by helping to lead book clubs. Without these volunteers, the library system would not be able to fulfill our mission of opening gateways for exploration. Many of our volunteers work behind the scenes alongside the staff and support the libraries in a million different ways. If you get a phone call for your hold notification, that might be a volunteer. The person you see pushing a cart of books or DVDs around your branch may be a volunteer pulling a rotation to send back to the main library – or they may be shelving recently returned library materials so that the next library user has the opportunity to borrow it. Volunteers prepare new books, audio books, and DVDs for public use. They tape paperbacks and put the plastic covers on the hardcover books. A volunteer may be in a back office working on data entry or assisting with filing. There’s a never ending list of volunteer opportunities available to someone who’s interested in helping out. The library system is very thankful for each volunteer. We know that without our volunteers we would not be able to serve the public as effectively as we are able to. Our volunteers don’t just help us with our needs, but they also show us where we should look to next. What services aren’t we providing that would benefit the community? Without their involvement and leadership, we wouldn’t be able to plan our next steps. If you’re interested in volunteering at any of the libraries in the county, please visit our website, www.adamslibrary.org. You’ll find a link to more information about the volunteer opportunities that we have under the “Support the Library” tab on the main page. You’ll also find more information about the Friends of the Library and opportunities that are available with them.

GASD prepares for fall opening; welcomes increased state funding

The Gettysburg Area School District will likely revise its 2022-23 budget to deal with an unexpected 6 percent ($687,000) increase in tax revenue from the state. The new funds will be used in large part for special education, transportation, and charter schools. Business manager Belinda Wallen said that, given the new funding, the district’s plan for an “insurance holiday” would no longer be in its best interests, and that it should instead make all 12 payments. The plan to make only 11 rather than 12 payments during the 2022-23 budget season was designed in part to reduce the need for a tax increase. Wallen said making all 12 payments would keep the district’s rates to a minimum. In her legislative report, board member Amy Beth Hodges said the overall state budget increase for education was $850 million, including substantial raises for special education and transportation.  She called it a “historic school funding increase.” Board President Kenneth Hassinger asked Hodges to see if local legislators might be able to help solve the problem in which the district is required to to submit its annual budget before it knows how much funding it will get from the state. That requirement makes it difficult for districts to create accurate budgets. Superintendent Jason Perrin said the school re-opening is coming very quickly with staff returning on Aug. 17 and students on Aug. 22. The large HVAC system reconstruction that caused disruptions last year is expected to be completely finished before school opens. The district said it had standardized early release day times across the school year. Perrin reminded those interested in supporting GASD students that the 4th annual Gettysburg Area Educational Foundation Fundraiser, “Night at the Totem Pole Playhouse,” was still selling tickets.  The event, which is a performance of “Footloose: The Musical,” will be held Wed. Aug 10 at 8:00 p.m. at the Totem Pole Playhouse in Fayetteville. Click here for tickets. The board’s next regularly-scheduled meeting will be on Aug. 15 at 7:00 p.m.

FASD holds its own amidst state teacher shortage

While state officials are worried about Pennsylvania’s ongoing teacher shortage, school representatives in Fairfield Area School District say their district is in good shape. During the Fairfield school board’s meeting on Monday evening, the board focused on preparations for the 2022-23 school year. Superintendent Thomas Haupt told the board he hoped it would approve adding another kindergarten teacher during the next meeting. The district’s sixtieth kindergarten student signed up on Monday, and with three teachers, there are currently 20 students in each kindergarten classroom. Haupt noted that Gov. Tom Wolf approved the state’s budget on July 8, and that the state passed “pretty historic funding for education in this budget.” Sonja Brunner, assistant to the superintendent, told the board that Fairfield will host the county induction for teachers on Aug. 9. Fairfield will hold its district induction program from Aug. 8-11. Brunner said teachers will have activities and a bus tour of the district included in the program. According to Brunner, the district needs to hire up to two more paraprofessionals. Four new teachers were approved during the meeting and introduced themselves to the board. Kathryn Miller, Lily Kapfhammer, Kaitlin Martin and Emily Solalinde-Cernas will all work as elementary teachers. Legislative update Board member Lisa Sturges reiterated that Fairfield is lucky to have enough staff while the state is facing what it has called an “educator workforce crisis.” She thanked the teachers who choose to work in Fairfield. Sturges also noted that the Pennsylvania Department of Education has updated its guidelines to determine eligibility for free and reduced lunches for the upcoming school year. The guidelines are available here. Sturges also cited information recently published by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) designed to help schools, “fulfill their responsibilities to meet the needs of students with disabilities and avoid the discriminatory use of student discipline,” according to the release. The guidance encouraged districts to use American Rescue Plan funds to ensure they have enough staff and training to assist students with disabilities and mental health struggles. “The new resources reflect the concern, particularly in light of the prevalence of student mental health issues associated with the pandemic, that some students with disabilities are not receiving the supports and services necessary to address their educational needs, including their disability-based behavior,” the release states. Sturges said the information is encouraging and that she has heard from some people in the community who are concerned about children’s mental health as they prepare to go back to school. The board elected to make Lauren Clark the board secretary, retroactive to July 1. The term will go through June 30, 2025. The board will hold its next regular board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8. Meetings are held in the district board room and are posted on the district’s YouTube channel.

East Berlin Library bustles with activity

By Molly Griffith Most people I’ve met seem to think that libraries are calm and peaceful places, full of hushed whispers and gently turning pages. That’s the comment I get most when people learn I work at the Jean Barnett Trone Memorial Library of East Berlin, but from my experience, that image is very rarely accurate. Most of the time, our library is a bustling place, full of excitement, energy, and far from quiet.   People of all walks of life are in and out everyday: picking up arrived items, browsing the shelves for their next read, checking out stacks of picture books or graphic novels or DVDs. That’s one of my main roles: scanning library cards and all the items that people want to take home with them, and one of my favorites. It’s fun to see what people are interested in and excited about. Sometimes it’s whole seasons of crime shows, or every children’s book we have about sharks, or the next book in that mystery series everyone has been talking about.  Another thing that keeps me busy is hunting down items for our patrons, since our collection might not always contain exactly what folks are looking for. Sometimes, this is an easy fix, and I can simply request titles from other branches in the Adams County Library System. Other times, I get to request items from our neighbors at York County Library System, or even across the entire state of Pennsylvania. It’s like a puzzle sometimes, depending on what I’m looking for, because there might be different editions of a book, or different seasons of a show, and I have to be certain I’ve found the exact right one for our patrons.  Programming is a huge part of what we do at the library as well, and something I’m super excited to be getting more involved in this coming fall. Previously, I’ve helped with adult events, specifically our Girls’ Craft Night Out, from planning and promotion to the actual occasion. However, starting in September, I’ll be hosting a Writer’s Group every third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Ages 16 and up are invited to discuss their creative projects and flex their writing muscles with some activities as well. If you’d like to join me, visit our website at www.adamslibrary.org/event/writers-group-1 to register.  However, that’s far from representative of everything happening at the library. We offer programming, materials, and resources for all ages: babies, preschool and elementary age children, teens, and adults. Just about every night of the week there’s something happening here for someone, and I often get to be the face that welcomes them to the library. It’s another one of my favorite things to do, even if I’m not deeply involved with the programs themselves. Watching every kind of person come through our doors makes it so clear how huge of an impact libraries have on their communities. Especially during these summer months, the library is a busy, exciting place, full of opportunities and adventure, and I’m so glad to be a part of it. Featured Image: Trone Memorial Library of East Berlin [Dawn Smith]

Casa de Cultura gives over $56,000 in scholarships to 34 local students

leer en español Winners of this year’s Beatrice and Sigfried Lowenthal Scholarships for First and Second Generation Immigrants and their families gathered on the Gettysburg College campus on Wednesday evening to celebrate the awarding of over $56,000 in scholarship money to 34 first-generation students. The event, hosted by the college’s Casa de Cultura, included an award ceremony followed by a communal meal. The winning students included those just starting their college experience as freshmen as well as those finishing their degrees. Assistant Director for the Center for Public Service Brenda Reyes-Lúa congratulated the students and distributed the awards. The scholarship is funded by the Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) Foundation and the Mexican Consulate’s Mexican Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior (IME) Becas program and administered by Casa de la Cultura. Applications for next year’s scholarships will be available next May on the Casa de Cultura website.

Casa de Cultura entrega $56,000 en becas a 34 estudiantes locales

read in English Los ganadores de las Becas Beatrice y Sigfried Lowenthal de este año para inmigrantes de primera y segunda generación y sus familias se reunieron en el campus de Gettysburg College el miércoles por la noche para celebrar la entrega de más de $56,000 en becas a 34 estudiantes de primera generación. El evento, organizado por la Casa de Cultura de la universidad, incluyó una ceremonia de premiación seguida de una comida comunitaria. Los estudiantes ganadores incluyeron a los que recién comenzaban su experiencia universitaria como estudiantes de primer año, así como a los que terminaban sus títulos. La Subdirectora del Centro de Servicio Público Brenda Reyes-Lúa felicitó a los estudiantes y repartió los premios. La beca está financiada por la Fundación Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) y el programa Becas del Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior (IME) del Consulado de México y es administrada por la Casa de la Cultura. Las solicitudes para las becas del próximo año estarán disponibles el próximo mes de mayo en la página web de la Casa de Cultura.

Local School Superintendents Discuss School Safety

According to statistics from Education Week, 2022 has already seen 27 school shootings with injuries and deaths in the U.S., with 83 people killed or injured. The grim tally includes the deaths of 24 children. School superintendents in the country’s 130,000 public and private schools are entrusted every school day to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for approximately 55 million elementary and secondary students. To learn how local districts meet the challenge, Gettysburg Connection talked with Littlestown Area School District Superintendent Christopher Bigger, Bermudian Springs School District Superintendent Dr. Shane Hotchkiss, and Gettysburg Area School District Superintendent Jason Perrin. “Safety has been a priority for many years; even prior to my tenure,” said Perrin. “We utilize a continuous improvement model, meaning we are always looking for reasonable and sustainable ways to maximize safety for our school community. We utilize external audits completed by third party vendors and by the PA State Police to assist in our improvement efforts.” The Pennsylvania Public School Code (Act 44) requires school districts to appoint school safety and security coordinators, establish mandatory school safety training for school employees, and establish standards for school police, resource officers, and security guards. Following Act 44, each district takes similar approaches to their daily safety procedures including both “hard” and “soft” techniques. On the “hard” side, districts have only a single point of entry to each building, require ID for entry, use security cameras, and hold evacuation and emergency protocol training for staff and students. But there is also a “soft side” that involves a focus on the mental health of students and faculty, as well as simply getting to know the students within the district.  “The power of Littlestown safety is in the number of counselors and support staff we have,” said Bigger. “These prevention safety measures can allow us to know and intervene before something happens.” Bigger said Littlestown has a licensed social worker, licensed mental health therapist, and a psychologist that assist in providing daily assistance. “We contract services through Cognitive Health Solutions to provide the program and staffing using ESSERS federal COVID dollars,” Bigger said.  “Students referred to the child study team in each building are analyzed for level of need and assigned an intervention based on staffing.  Sometimes the classroom teacher or the school counselor implements a strategy.” Bermudian also has growing resources related to mental health. “We have a school counselor in each of our buildings and a counselor that moves between the middle and high school,” said Hotchkiss.  “Additionally, we have had a substance abuse counselor for quite some time and have expanded her role in our district to include all buildings.” Bermudian additionally began utilizing Care Solice last year, which ensures that communities can reach reliable mental health services no matter the circumstances. As for the “hard” side of safety, Hotchkiss said Bermudian uses the “ALICE” program, provided by a third party, for safety training. ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. “We use ALICE as a tool. These are options and strategies for students and staff to utilize in an emergency,” said Hotchkiss.  “We revisit these drills and practices during faculty meetings.” ALICE training includes modules appropriate for different grade levels, using storybooks, hands-on activities, worksheets, and other methods. The curriculum provides language and concepts to facilitate learning about stranger danger, assault, abduction, and abuse at an age-appropriate level. Each district also works within the state’s youth violence prevention program Safe2SayPA. The program, run by the state Attorney General’s office, teaches children to recognize warning signs and signals, especially on social media, from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others and to “say something before it is too late.” Hotkchiss said the program allows students to anonymously report unsafe and potentially dangerous activities, and helps students and staff to be diligent and observant, and to ask questions. Bigger recalled how a large change in security measures occurred in Adams County following the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. “Post Parkland is when Adams County became much more conscious and consistent,” he said. “When Uvalde happened, we asked ourselves if we were still being consistent.  We keep trying to get better every year.” Bigger said Littlestown is as “as prepared as possible to react in an emergency,” and has employed a school resource safety officer since 2018. “The officer leads staff training, follows through on safety improvements, and leads efforts to ensure student, staff, and family compliance with safety procedures,” said Bigger.  “Since the hiring of a safety officer, our safety efforts have increased substantially, and we are maintaining the efforts deployed. For example, when we are required to perform safety drills the officer will coordinate the drills and then evaluate for improvement efforts.” “I think in trying to maintain an atmosphere conducive to learning, while providing security and safety, we are in a good spot,” said Hotchkiss. “I believe all of our current efforts are both reasonable and sustainable in a public school environment,” said Perrin. “We will always review our protocols and make adjustments as warranted to mitigate safety concerns.”

Elana Nashelsky named Vida Charter School principal

Vida Charter School has appointed Elana Nashelsky as the school’s first principal. Nashelsky joined the staff at Vida six years ago and has served as assistant principal since 2018, supporting the school through its recharter process comprehensive planning, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Nashelsky is a strong advocate for Vida’s vision of bilingualism, biliteracy, academic achievement, and cultural competency. She has a passion for and commitment to bilingual education, both as a practitioner and as a researcher, and is currently enrolled as a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania. Nashelsky received her Master’s in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, and her Bachelor’s from the University of California, Berkeley. In her new role Nashelsky will oversee school operations and administration while Executive Director Christine Miller will shift her focus to long-term strategic planning, community outreach and alumni relations. “Vida is an extraordinary resource in Adams County, unparalleled here in its commitment to rigorous and equity-centered instruction,” said Nashelsky. “I am thrilled to continue to do the work I am passionate about alongside such skillful and devoted colleagues, families, and community members.” Vida Charter School, located in Gettysburg, is the area’s only public bilingual charter school. Chartered in 2010, Vida now enrolls 220 students in kindergarten through grade 6 from nine school districts in Adams, Franklin and York counties. The school’s Dual Language model, providing instruction in both English and Spanish, allows students to develop proficiency in speaking, reading, writing, and listening in both languages, as well as a greater understanding of and appreciation for multiple languages and cultures. “Vida is so fortunate to have a talented, intelligent, passionate and supportive leader like Elana who continually seeks ways to make Vida a place of excellence for our staff, students and families,” Ms. Miller said. “I am confident Vida will thrive and grow under her leadership.” Vida is currently enrolling students for the 2022-2023 school year. For more information, visit www.vidacharterschool.com or find us on Facebook.

FASD ends budget discussions; approves no 2022-23 tax increase

The Fairfield Area School District passed its final budget for the 2023-24 school year on Monday evening with no tax increases. The millage rate will remain at 11.1305. Even without a tax increase, the board still expects to have a surplus of $188,959. The approved budget includes revenues of $19,836,530 and expenditures of $19,647,571. While there won’t be any tax increases this year, the board did agree to raise the price of meals in the cafeteria. In its consent agenda, the board set the following cafeteria prices: Breakfast for elementary school students – $1.45 (formerly $1.25) Breakfast for middle school/high school students – $1.55 (not previously offered) Breakfast for adults – $2 (not previously offered) Lunch for elementary school students – $2.75 (formerly $2.65) Lunch for middle school/high school students – $2.95 (formerly $2.85) Lunch for adults – $4 (formerly $3.85) Business manager Tim Stanton and Superintendent Thomas Haupt encouraged the board during its meeting on May 9 to raise the meal prices. The cafeteria prices have remained the same for several years and have been below the average rates in Adams, York and Franklin counties. During that same May meeting, Stanton proposed offering breakfast to middle and high school students. Those breakfast prices were included in the consent agenda on Monday. Staff changes The board said goodbye to Daniel Watkins, the outgoing supervisor of special education. Watkins’ resignation was approved during a board meeting in March. He will resign on Thursday. Haupt and the board thanked Watkins for his service with the district. The board also approved hiring Todd L. Wolf as the new assistant principal for the middle and high schools. Wolford will begin work on or before July 1, according to the agenda. “My time with the superintendent has been unbelievable,” Wolford told the board. “I’ve met very few people who make an impression on me in the school system as much as he has, and I’ve been in it for awhile. I’m anxious to be a part of this staff, be a part of the team, and do the best we can by our students and the stakeholders in the community.” Wolford said he is eager to begin work. “(Haupt) has got some great ideas I want to bring to fruition for you,” Wolford said. Other business The board voted to reappoint Lashay M. Kalathas as its treasurer. In its agenda, the board announced that it previously held two closed meetings, both on June 13, in order to discuss personnel and legal issues. The next regular board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, July 25. The meeting will be held in the district board room and livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

Local school districts reach the budgetary finish line

As the six Adams County school districts wrap up their 2022-23 budgeting processes, it is worth noting the enormity of the tasks they have each faced and the complexities of the procedures they each followed to get there. The six districts, each serving less than 3,500 students, have worked independently for the past six months to create a new annual budget, post it on their website, modify it on the basis of new information, and explain it to and get it approved by their board. The workload is immense as the district superintendent and business manager call in assistants, principals, teachers, and staff to give advice and make decisions within a financial environment that is in constant flux. The public is also asked for its input, which is given through phone calls and emails to district administrators and board members and in often-passionate addresses at board meetings. At some meetings decorum is on thin ice as applause and cheers from the public follow public commentaries. In a classic Catch-22, each district is forced to make predictions for its budget based on state funding that has not been committed at the time the state requires the budget to be finalized. In comparison to most states the proportion of state funds that come to public schools in Pennsylvania is low, putting a greater burden on, and more intense interest in, the process from local taxpayers.  Following proscriptive state laws, the budget must be approved by the school boards by the end of June but draft copies need to be posted 30 days prior for public inspection. This creates another level of confusion because the draft budgets are made public as new information is still arriving and final plans are being drafted. During the process each district’s budget is discussed in detail, often down to individual line items, by the boards in lengthy and sometimes contentious meetings. That there are six districts in our small county of a bit over 100,000 residents multiplies the work as each of the six teams spend countless hours making decisions about their small piece of the overall student body. And all this occurs in a context where almost all of each district’s budget is already fixed through required bond payments, salaries, and benefits.  The tiny remainder of the budget is all that is tweakable. The situation repeats itself statewide, where there are over 500 school districts ranging from about 250 to 140,000 students. In contrast, neighboring Maryland has only 25 districts for about 6 million people with an average of 240,000 students in each district. (There is no rule that the six Adams districts could not combine, and there would be huge benefits to doing so, and yet there is no discussion of this that I am aware of.) Although budgets seem to be the biggest time commitment each district is also on its own to deal with myriad other details, each of which takes up time. In the past year UASD has responded to accusations of racial prejudice, FASD has dealt with structural problems including roof leaks, and LASD has created multiple committees to review dozens of books that one parent has suggested might be obscene. And each district has continued to deal with the pandemic, again each in its own way. There seems to be nothing to do except thank each and every one of the people who make this all possible. Their commitment to the students is unwavering and they get the tough job done.

Adams County Literacy Council improves opportunities for local residents

Founded in 1987, the Adams County Literacy Council (ACLC) continues to promote essential adult education and employment skills for county residents. Noting the program serves about 170 people every year, ACLC Program Coordinator Alison Shuman said “taking ownership of one’s education is the first step of growth. The ACLC strives to make people more employable and reduce poverty.” ACLC volunteer tutors work one-on-one with learners to empower their education. “The tutors are the guts of the agency,” said Shuman. In a typical week, a learner receives 3-4 hours of instruction with a tutor along with outside platforms that supplement their learning at home. Tutors have at least a college degree. The ACLC provides a wide range of free services to match each learner’s educational needs and goals. The most basic include programs to improve reading and writing skills along with computer and financial literacy. ACLC also offers English as a Second Language as well as high school equivalence test training including pre-GED, and GED programs. Recently, the council has worked with the Adams County Prison to bring GED classes to inmates. Shuman said the U.S. Department of Education requires an Educational Functioning Level (EFL) test after every 50 hours of instruction to ensure learners are gaining from the programs they participate in. “The students like seeing they are making progress,” she said. The state of Pennsylvania works hard to make education more accessible and to ensure every citizen has access to education no matter what life stage they are in. Shuman said that literacy councils have been established in most counties across Pennsylvania to empower residents to take ownership over their education. Those who may not have had access to education or never completed high school have opportunities to return to academia. Shuman explained that sanctioned literacy councils around the state including ACLC are coordinated by state Intermediate Units. These units, each spanning several counties, act as liaisons between the Department of Education and the public, providing accessible educational services and agencies. The ACLC serves people from all demographics and all educational needs. “It’s hard to come back to education after leaving it for so long, but at the end of the day a promotion may mean being able to simply write, read, and speak better. When we see someone come in at a fifth-grade level and get their GED or even go to college, we know our work is bettering individuals, their intellect, and lifestyles as a whole,” said Shuman If you are interested in becoming a part of the learning community in Adams County, the literacy council is always looking for volunteers. To contact the ACLC, please call their office at 717-479-7032. Featured image caption: Tutor Elizabeth Richardson-Viti (left) with her student Khyati Vyas.

GASD will raise taxes 1.3 percent

[Editor’s opinion]:  In my three years of covering the GASD school board meetings I have never been more proud of this district, this administration, and these board members than I am today.  The district is facing potentially severe budget shortfalls going forward by making informed, transparent, and reasonable decisions about taxation and other issues.  I thank each and every one of you for your dedication to the children of this district [cs]. The Gettysburg Area School District (GASD) ended its 2021-22 school year by passing a 2022-23 budget with a small tax increase of 1.3 percent. The increase represents an increase of $54.92 on the average parcel of about $260,000, but most people should receive a small tax reduction due to offsetting increases in the homestead/farmstead credit. The needed increase was less than the district had proposed in prior meetings due to extra property tax income, savings from the district’s retirement account contributions, and increases in federal funds. Business Manager Belinda Wallen said total revenue was expected to increase 3.6 percent from 2021-22 to $68,720,407 while expenses were expected to increase 1.6 percent to $70,527,832. Wallen said increases in transportation and charter school costs, as well as the need to create new school police resource officer (SRO) positions led to the increased expenses. Wallen said the district was taking a $500,000 insurance holiday to help balance the budget as well as making reductions in expenses for IT hotspots and utilities. The district is also reducing district-paid field trips. Wallen said the district may still need to use funds from the unreserved fund balance if charter school costs remain high. District Superintendent Jason Perrin said the tax increase allowed the district to “carry forward the process of hiring school police and putting a couple of high school positions back in place. The goal was to impact instruction as little as possible,” he said. Addressing the need for the SRO officers, Perrin said responding to acute emergencies is a small percentage of SRO officer duties and that the proactive aspect of the positions was crucial. “It’s the relationships that those individuals build. They become part of the staff in the buildings,” he said. Board member Tim Seigman thanked the board members who had given individual input on ways to try to reduce expenditures.  “I appreciate the fact that our business office budgets conservatively. We cannot overspend,” said board member Al Moyers. Moyers said he did not want to cut services and noted that tax increases had been small and that no school could keep pace with rises in contractual issues without some tax increases. “I want the school to be the best it possibly can,” he said. Board member Michael Dickerson said that during his time on the board he had learned that a school district budget was much different than a home or business budget. “We are letting professional positions go,” he said.  Dickerson thanked Perrin and the board members saying said that although the board often received accusations of not being careful with spending, those allegations were “very far from the truth. We’re pretty diligent in what we try to do,” he said. Smyers thanked the board members, saying she had taken time off work and spent hours with Wallen going over the budget to understand how it works.  “This isn’t easy.  If I vote to raise taxes I’m raising my own taxes. This isn’t something I want to do,” she said. Board member Jeremy Davis said he was a business owner and paid a lot of taxes.  “I don’t want to raise taxes on myself,” he said, “but at the same time I want to make sure the school district is operating in a manner that it should be. I don’t want to sacrifice the security of our children or the teachers.  The more security we can provide within reason it’s our due diligence to do so. At the end of the day I’ve got sleep at night,” he said. Board member Ryan Morris focused on the need for police security, saying “my vote would yes because I want to ensure that my children are safe.” Board member AmyBeth Hodges voted against the proposal saying the district had “overbudgeted and overtaxed its residents.”  Hodges said the district should use money in reserve funds instead of increasing taxes. The next regularly scheduled board meeting is scheduled for August 1.

LASD passes 1 percent tax increase for 2022-23; will allow parents to monitor children’s reading

On a 7-2 vote the Littlestown Area School District (LASD) board of supervisors has approved a one percent tax increase for 2022-23. Voting against the increase were board members Jeanne Ewen and Nicki Kenny. District Superintendent Christopher Bigger said the budget process had been “long and surgical” and noted that 70% of district homes will see a reduction in taxes despite the 1% increase. The overall decrease is due to an increase in the homestead/farmstead credits that most households receive. Bigger said the small increase will provide the district with the opportunity for some much-needed renovations as the designs for the Maple Avenue Middle School replacement project move forward. The board approved the 2022 Pre-K summer learning program on a 7-1 vote. Kenny voted against funding the program and board member Robert Hahn abstained. The board also unanimously approved a plan in which parents will have more control over materials their children can access through the district’s libraries. The concern is over books that have been challenged as obscene. Going forward, the district will allow parents to require that their children receive parental permission before checking out any of the 100 most banned and challenged books as defined by the American Library Association. Students whose parents opt into the program will be flagged in the library system and will not be able to check out materials without parental approval. The process will be revisited to ensure it is working effectively. The district gave awards to four students who have displayed leadership in academics, sports, and kindness and have been willing to lead their classmates in various aspects of learning. The awardees are Jordyn Beard, 12th Grade; Connor Myers, 8th Grade; Nathan Evans, 8th Grade; and Cora Bogus, Kindergarten. Bigger presented a year in review report in which he gave a “30,000-foot-view” of the year. Bigger said the quality of educators in the district, the excellence of the board, and the support of the community were all integral to the success of the school district. “Our performances exceeded growth expectations with limited learning loss,” he said. Bigger recapped progress on reaching goals related to graduation policy, facilities, and creating a positive student environment, and said going forward new goals might include increasing the number of students performing at advanced levels, exploring alternative school calendars,  and rethinking early childhood education. The board also approved initiatives relating to coaching roles, teacher leaders, and sporting equipment. Featured image caption (l -r; Beard, Myers, Evans, and Bogus) Barring a need for an unscheduled July meeting the board will next meet on August 13.

Bermudian says “no” to new taxes

By Imari Scarbrough The Bermudian Springs school board will not include any tax increases in its Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget following a close vote on Tuesday evening. The board discussed the pros and cons of including a tax increase in the budget, with concerns ranging from the problems of raising prices for residents on fixed income to worries that school programs will be cut if taxes are not raised. There were three options on the table: raising taxes 4.7% to the Act 1 index, with the real estate tax set at 13.0514 mills, setting the real estate tax rate at 12.7585 mills, or leaving the rate at 12.4656 mills. The third option with no tax increase passed with a narrow 5-4 vote after motions for the first two choices were defeated. Matthew P. Nelson, vice president of the board, argued in favor of raising taxes to the Act 1 index. “Oftentimes, taxes can be viewed as a burden, and oftentimes they can be,” Nelson said. “But I also think, when you have your property taxes, the school taxes that end up going to Bermudian are an investment. So it’s not a burden. That money’s going to be used and you can see directly the results. You see it on the stage. You see it in the stadium. You see it in the classrooms.” Others on the board worried that inflation would make a tax increase too hard on taxpayers. Nelson argued that inflation would increase the district’s financial needs. “The school district is not immune to those same exact pressures and problems that all of our families are going to have,” Nelson said. Treasurer Ruth Griffie, Mary Kemper, the board’s assistant secretary, and board members Daniel S. Chubb, Jennifer Goldhahn and Travis Mathna all voted against option one, defeating it 5-4. The same five members voted against the lower tax increase, defeating that motion 5-4. When the time came to vote for the third option with no tax increase, Michael Wool, the board’s president, said no business could function like school boards are expected to. “The way that the school funding model is set up in Pennsylvania is we are like at the end of the line,” Wool, who voted for raising taxes, said. “Whatever is left, we have to figure out how to address it. And as we talked about last night, the fact that I – or we – have to approve a budget before the state approves has to approve theirs to tell us what their contribution is is ridiculous. If any business tried to operate that way, they would fail miserably.” Wool also reminded everyone that all board members made their decisions with the students in mind, including both those who voted for and those who voted against raising taxes. “The other thing that I really want to point out, and this really is not so much to do with this particular motion, is that every person up here, regardless of their stance, is really all about doing what’s best for our kids and our community,” Wool said. “And I, you know, we’ve had some passionate debate and conversation. I know sometimes there are, I know, one-on-one conversations that can get very interesting. But I do appreciate that this board. That’s what they care about. Nobody is up here on an agenda.” Griffie, who voted against both proposed tax increases, said she has served on the board for six and a half years and for two terms. She shared her frustration with the calls to raise taxes. “My first year, and I will never forget this, in 1999, I came onto the board and I said I did not want to raise taxes because I would like to see my friends and my neighbors take a vacation,” Griffie said. “This one board member said to me, ‘But Ruth, if they take a vacation this year, they might not have money to pay their taxes next year.’ I said, ‘Oh, well. Next year will be next year.’ I just wanted to add that. That’s stuck with me since 1999. I have been trying to hold the line on taxes.” The same five board members who voted against the first two motions voted in favor of the third one, defeating Wool, Nelson, Secretary Douglas L. Knight and board member Corey A. Trostle with a close 5-4 vote. The board held two separate votes for the third option. The first set expenditures at $34,321,825 and revenues at $31,932,116. The second vote determined the taxes, which will not be increased. Board members voted the same way for both votes held for the third option. Rather than raising taxes, the district will use its fund balance to close the gap, leaving $3,243,658 left, according to the final budget. Last year, the board also voted to not impose a tax increase. Concerns from the public Before the budget vote was held, speakers from the community used the time for public comment to advocate for both positions. One man said he’s seen families unable to afford food. “To be raising taxes in a time of record inflation is directly going to hurt the people who are poorest,” he said. He felt the board should reduce rather than raise taxes. “The compassionate, loving thing to do to love your neighbor, the neighbors who elected you here, would be to cut taxes hard,” he said. “If you cannot cut taxes hard– you don’t have the votes for it because some just want to continuously raise taxes to pay for every little magic dream you have – if you can’t do that, then the compromise position is to hold the line at zero.” Another man urged the board to examine all of its expenses before raising taxes. “I can’t see how anyone in good conscience right now, knowing what’s going on in the economy, could say that a tax increase is good at this time,” he said. One woman commented on the offers the board received from some speakers who offered to help raise the necessary funds or find other ways to close the gaps without a tax increase. She questioned why many did not show up for other meetings or fundraising efforts until now. She also said the entire community benefits from the school educating students and keeping them busy even if some taxpayers do not have children enrolled in the district. Some people worried programs will eventually be cut and classrooms will be overcrowded without the extra funding. “Please make the hard decision,” one speaker said as he urged the board to raise taxes. “It may not be the popular one, but it is the one that is necessary.” The board unanimously agreed to not raise cafeteria breakfast or lunch prices for the 2022-23 school year. Other business The board approved hiring Brian Booher as the new special education director. Booher will fill the role left open following the resignation of Sonja Brunner. The board will hold its next caucus meeting on Aug. 8 and its next regular meeting on Aug. 9. Both meetings are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.  Meetings are held in the high school auditorium and are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

New Oxford Library: Small but mighty

By Bryn Jarusewski Have you ever visited the New Oxford Library? If not, please stop by to visit our tiny but mighty branch of the Adams County Library System. Since New Oxford is much smaller than many of the other satellite branches, do you ever wonder how we receive, process, and distribute our materials? Our library is much too small to handle that capacity of materials and books, process subscriptions to magazines, and store all of the STEM and educational materials.  Thanks to the Gettysburg Branch, located in downtown Gettysburg, our branch can receive support for the everyday functions of the library. Because our library cannot hold all the books ordered for the county, Gettysburg will process the materials through the materials handling and will distribute them to the branches to maintain as a small collection. However, our branches cannot hold all the popular materials so the Adams County Library System has created a rotation schedule to keep the branches fresh and interesting over the course of a year or two.  As a nonprofit 501c(3) organization, the Adams County Library System relies on donors like you! The New Oxford Library, among the other branches, relies heavily on our Development Director Erica Duffy, coordinates fundraising efforts through programs such as the Endowment Giving, Giving Spree, and other incredible ways. Without your help and Erica’s, we would not have the funds to operate our library or purchase books for readers like you.  The list of reasons and ways the Gettysburg Library supports the New Oxford Library is endless, so I will just sum up a few: Delivery six days a week is provided by the Gettysburg branch IT Department to fix all our technology woes Youth Services will provide support for our SummerQuest programs  A simple thank you is not enough for all that Gettysburg does for our tiny, but mighty branch! Mark your calendars!  Friends of the Adams County Library System’s Annual Summer Book Sale Bonanza.  Thurs-Sat, 7/28-30.  Held at Redding’s Auction Services, 1085 Table Rock Road, Gettysburg.  9am-7pm Thurs & Fri; and 9am-2pm Sat..Five free books per child in attendance.  Teachers’ special on Fri only:  15 free classroom appropriate books per teacher.  $5/bag sale on Sat; buy 2 get 1 free.  Food truck present for breakfast & lunch items on Thurs & Fri.

CVSD approves tax increase for 2022-23 and celebrates students

The Conewago Valley school board approved its final Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget during its meeting on Monday evening, passing a tax increase along with the budget. The $72,220,492 budget includes a 4.6% increase in real estate taxes, with the millage rate moving from 14.1993 to 14.8524. The 4.6 percent is the maximum allowed under the state’s Act 1 limitations. Other taxes will remain unchanged, according to page 12 of the final budget. The earned income tax rate will stay at 1% and a 0.5% realty transfer tax will also remain the same. A $5 per capita tax under school code Section 679, a $5 per capita tax under Act 511 and a 5% amusement tax were also left untouched, according to the budget document. The board also approved pricing cafeteria lunches at $2.50 for the elementary and intermediate schools and $2.75 for secondary schools. The price for milk was set at 50 cents. Breakfast for students at all school levels will be priced at $1.50. While the board unanimously approved other finance items on the agenda, including the cafeteria prices, board members Patricia Klunk Gouker and Tara Bolton voted against adopting the budget with the tax increase. During the time for public comment, one individual said they were frustrated with the process to receive a copy of the proposed budget ahead of the meeting. The woman said she was unable to receive an emailed copy from the district until hours before the meeting. The woman said business manager Lori Duncan notified her that she’d received the Right to Know request for the budget on June 7 and requested an extension of 30 days, which the woman said she did not agree to. The budget was emailed to her today and posted to the district website. “I personally respect you all… But I question your ethics,” the woman said. “I question your lack of transparency.” Board solicitor Brooke Say said copies of the budget were available for pubic review and that the district had followed the law. Say added that Duncan did not have to ask for a 30-day extension and did not need to fill the request immediately, asking for the days only as a “courtesy.” Wrapping up the school year Matthew Muller, principal of New Oxford Middle School, provided a combined building report for the schools. This month, he used a unique format, showing the board photos from the schools with captions explaining the photos. Each school building contributed photos from May for the presentation. “You folks are busy,” Muller said. “A lot of times you don’t get to see some of those kinds of things and if it’s not on social media, you may not know about it.” View the video report. Board President Edward Groft said he enjoyed the visual report. “That is new, and it does give us a little better scope of everything going on because there are a lot of thing that we do not or are not able to attend,” Groft said. Dr. Robert Walker, who recently started as the assistant superintendent, said he appreciates the district and community and has felt welcomed since his first day. “First of all, I want to say thank you to the faculty and staff here and the parents that have been in, Walker said. “It has been just an absolutely warm and kind, heartfelt welcome. I felt, even after my first day, I said, ‘I felt like I’d worked here my entire life and I’d just met these people.’” Walker said he’s eager to assist with developing plans for the district next month. Superintendent Sharon Perry said she was glad Walker joined the staff. “His enthusiasm is contagious and infectious,” Perry said. Perry said planning is going well for the next school year. She said she is “super proud” that professional development for next school year is nearly fully planned. “It was a momentous feat to think about all of the things that we’re focusing within our district, mobilizing that towards the future and coming up with a plan towards that,” Perry said. She pointed to the building report Muller had shared as showing their motivation for intensive long-term planning. “The one thing that really stands out to me, and it can’t be missed, is that every single highlight had a child in that picture,” Perry said. “And that truly is the focus of our district. We are all here because of the children within in our school community and it’s truly a testament to how we work together as a team that that is our focal point. And that’s why we do all of this planning together is to give them the very best opportunities that we can.” Perry said the district has developed priorities to focus on for its comprehensive planning. “We want to focus on fiscal health and mental health,” Perry said. “They came out as the key focus area. Student engagement is part and parcel to that. It’s not just for our students. It’s for our adults also. So it’s for our faculty, it’s for our staff, it’s for our administration, (and) it’s also for parents and our community that we want to be and serve that support in that area. Our professional learning, our curriculum and instruction and assessment is about that.” Perry said the administration is “learning about trauma-informed care” and looks forward to beginning a new school year. “I couldn’t be more proud as the superintendent in what is a rather tough year of ups and downs I believe for all,” Perry said. “But we’re coming out now, I think, on the other side from the challenges COVID has brought to us and our community and I look forward to having a wonderful year next year.” Groft agreed. “It was a good year,” he said. “It started out a little rough and it ended up as good as I felt we could be.” He also said the district’s recent graduation ceremony was a success. “I will tell you, there was as many tears as there was smiles at graduation,” Groft said. “We had some excellent speakers and they did bring the kids to some tears. It was a pretty neat evening.” Recognition The board recognized several students: Hunter Crabbs was named as the New Oxford High School Rotary Student of the Month in May  Hailey Linebaugh was noted for being named the Athlete of the Week by the Gettysburg Times during the week of May 9. Linebaugh was one of five students initially nominated for the honor.  Jon Makowski, an English and journalism instructor at New Oxford High School, was recognized for being named the 2022 Teacher Impact Award honoree. Several students were also recognized for receiving college acceptances and scholarships. The board held executive sessions before and after the open session. There will be no monthly meeting in July. The board will hold its next study session at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 1 and will hold a regular board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8. Both meetings will be held in the district office. Meetings are also livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

FASD looks forward

The Fairfield Area school district is beginning the process of developing long-term plans for its curriculum, training, facilities and more. During the school board’s meeting on Monday evening, Superintendent Thomas Haupt gave a state of the district speech which also served as an opportunity for him to share his vision for the future. Haupt said the district will pursue a “change in culture” and the overall plan will take years to fully implement. One part of his vision includes strengthening community partnerships. “We have good partnerships with local businesses and local business leaders, but we really need to enhance those partnerships,” Haupt said. Haupt also has plans to invest in a K-12 curriculum plan that includes both creating content as well as focusing on professional development. The curriculum plan will have the goal of creating “multiple exposures” to the skills students will need for life after school. “Outside of rigorous content, something I will just say we have not done a good job with in this district – we must get better at doing this – and that is to professionally develop our teachers,” Haupt said. Haupt said the administration will begin to work on a facilities plan but does not yet have one in place. He stressed the importance of developing long-term plans for each need in order to most wisely and efficiently handle the district’s budget. Members of the administration will begin putting together plans this summer, he said, as the overall plan is still in its infancy. School board member Lisa Sturges, a former teacher, said she was particularly interested in learning what professional development will look like for teachers. “When I came here many moons ago, I had a lot of professional development,” Sturges said. “We were all allowed to go to one – it had to be approved and it had to be a current philosophy of the district– but in-service or workshops. They weren’t in-house, they were out so you could connect with other districts. Are we going to see some of that come back? Because there really hasn’t been, in many years, any kind of those concentrated workshops in specific areas, and I see it as a real weakness.” Sturges recalled her experience as a teacher. “Fortunately I had a lot (of professional development) in my early career that helped me, but I see that (lack of it) as something that really hurts us as a district,” Sturges said. Haupt said he couldn’t promise any specifics at this stage, but agreed that professional development will be important. The board unanimously approved its consent agenda with the exception of approving a pay raise for Haupt. Sturges said she wanted to discuss the item in closed session. According to the agenda, the raise would bump Haupt’s salary to $155,040 as of July 1. His previous salary was not specified. The same agenda item also called for the board to accept his performance assessment, which was noticed as being “rated as distinguished” for this school year. After the closed session, the raise and performance assessment were passed with a vote of 6-3. Sturges, Treasurer Lashay Kalathas, and board member Candace Ferguson-Miller voted against the agenda item. The board recognized five employees who finished three years of employment at FASD and earned tenure: Rebecca Abell, Kevin Dorsey, Kristi Ebaugh, Samantha Goetz and Emily Makar. Several people were also recognized for their dedication and years within the district. Charles Engel and Regina Lee were celebrated for completing 25 years with FASD while Kenneth Haines, Daniel Irwin, Siri Phelps and John Ridge each completed 20 years. There was no public comment. The board will vote on the final Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget during its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, June 27. Meetings are held in the district board room and are also livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

Fairfield Area High School graduates praised as “the future of our society”

As the graduates of Fairfield Area High School prepared to accept their diplomas during their graduation ceremony on June 1, speakers focused on the students’ perseverance through the challenges of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Honey K. Strosnider, the class vice president, commended the students for their work and thanked the community that supported the students. “Every one of you has made an impact on the graduates who sit here today,” Strosnider said. “These last four years have been a period of growth and preparation for whatever our futures hold. We’ve gone through challenges, no doubt, such as COVID and its restrictions. However, we’ve kept our heads high, which has allowed us to be here today. As we start this next chapter, please let it be known that we graduates are extremely thankful for all of the support we’ve been given and are excited to make you all proud.” Kaden L. Hunter, the class president, highlighted the potential of his class, pointing the students out as “the future of our society.” Hunter said he expected to see his classmates succeed. He pointed to the district as a way the students are connected. “Though we do not all have similar dreams and goals, our dreams and goals were all derived from the 13 years that we spent in school,” Hunter said. “Whether or not we realize it, our school helped us develop social skills, communication skills, leadership skills, logical thinking skills, and so much more, including our ambitions. We were taught how to be kind to others and accept peoples’ differences, respect others’ opinions and solve problems in our lives. Though there were no lessons teaching these important skills directly, they were developed as a result of the amazing community that the school provided.” Hunter reflected on the change the students saw in a short time from being overwhelmed freshmen to the unique struggles they faced as high school students in a pandemic. “Now we are standing on this stage today and there is nothing that we cannot do,” Hunter said. “The COVID-19 pandemic shut down our normal education. Nobody had time to prepare for such unfortunate circumstances. We struggled, we lost sleep, our mental health at risk, our quality of work depleted, but you know what? We adapted. We pulled through. We grew and we became stronger. Our class endured it all and we became unstoppable as a result.” Hunter praised the students for drawing from their own strength and for their commitment to bettering themselves and their community despite injustices and tragedies. “Despite all of the hardship in the world, all of the things that are used to tear us down – discrimination, violence and ignorance – this class became stronger, smarter, more tolerant and open-minded,” Hunter said. “Together, we fought all of the societal issues trying to hold us back. This amazing ability to prevail led me to conclude that our generation of free-thinking individuals will conquer a future that is free of these hateful societal implementations.” Hunter said division is “the number one thing holding back our society,” adding that he felt his classmates and generation could work to be the solution. “We’re divided by religion, race, gender, sexuality, class, and the list goes on,” Hunter said. “Why do we allow these things to divide us? Why aren’t we all just human beings? Is it easier to be hateful than respectful? It shouldn’t be, and I believe wholeheartedly that this class and this generation of individuals will be the generation that brings us closer together and closer to uniting us as human beings. Albert Einstein once said, ‘I’m more interested in the future than the past because the future is where I intend to live.’… Our generation of open-minded thinkers will open doors to countless advancements in society. There is nothing we cannot accomplish.” Valedictorian Mary Aker said that even though their time in high school was “a little unorthodox,” she was proud of her classmates’ perseverance. She compared the students’ anxious anticipation of their next steps with how they felt as eighth grade students preparing to enter high school. Aker quoted Oscar Wilde: “I am not young enough to know everything.” Aker also quoted Søren Aabye Kierkegaard, saying, “anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” Aker suggested students reframe their thoughts to help calm axiety. “First, acknowledge the moment we are in right now before it passes, before it becomes a new part of the road we walk down, a memory in the far distance,” Aker said. “It is here, unfolding on this stage, in real time. Tonight, we are graduating. It’s real, it’s exciting, it’s scary and it’s amazing.” Aker also said students should welcome the freedom Kierkegaard observed. “Secondly, we should take time to appreciate this anxiety,” Aker said. “That means we have a newfound freedom to experience and with this freedom, we can go wherever we want. We have everything ahead of us: college, careers, friendships and these new choices and paths are scary because we don’t know a clear way to choose. Which could be right and which could be wrong? But a clear path would be one that is boring and unrewarding.” Aker told the students to appreciate the different versions of themselves. “Tonight is a night to celebrate our past selves, present achievements and future endeavors, to thank this school, all who helped make it thrive, and ourselves,” Aker said. Salutatorian Tiffany G. Ellsworth also had a quote for students: “It’s just a bad day. Not a bad life.” Ellsworth said that quote helped her hang on during the “rollercoaster” of high school. “Our class didn’t have the normal high school experience,” Ellsworth said. “We were at the end of our sophomore year when COVID hit. It separated our grade for about a year before we were allowed to come back and see each other again in school. Even with all of the hardships that COVID put us through, I truly believe it made our grade stronger and we learned to appreciate more things in life because of it. Our grade is like no other, I must say. At times when I thought our grade was so separated, we were all so, so close.” Ellsworth said that during a time of heightened stress, she has noticed compassion from her classmates. “I truly believe that any of us would do anything for each other,” Ellsworth said. “We noticed when each other was upset by a simple look in the hallway, and we always did our best to pick each other up. Living in a small town is like a double-edged sword. Yes, everyone may know everything about each other, but the bonds and friendships you’re able to form make it all worth it. We helped each other on those bad days so they didn’t become bad lives.” Ellsworth said she wanted to make the most of her final year of school and made changes to “make it memorable.” She encouraged her classmates to also be bold even when they are scared. “Mistakes are how you learn lessons, and if you don’t learn lessons, how are you supposed to grow as a person?” Ellsworth mused. “The most important thing I took out of my senior year is that your mistakes don’t define you.” Ellsworth left the audience with a final quote. “To the class of 2022: I have grown up with most of you since kindergarten,” she said. “You have truly become my best friends. I found a quote that I think accurately describes how hard this moment is for all of us and it is one by one of our childhood favorites. It reads, ‘How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?’ (from) Winnie the Pooh.” Brian McDowell, principal of Fairfield Area High School, told the community that they were responsible for helping every student succeed. “Like I just said to the faculty: it takes all of us for these fine young folks to be successful,” McDowell said. “We had 91 eligible to graduate. Ninety-one graduated. That’s a testament to them and, really, I think, to all of us rowing the boat in the same direction, so to speak.” During the event, the concert choir sang the alma mater, “America,” and “For Good” from the musical, Wicked. Jennifer I. Holz, president of the school board, and Thomas J. Haupt, superintendent of the district, also joined the students on stage as the graduates received their diplomas. Featured Image: Kaden L. Hunter addresses his classmates.

Littlestown High School celebrates the Class of 2022

The 156 graduates of the Littlestown Senior High School Class of 2022 gathered with their teachers, school board, families, and friends on the field of Thunderbolt Stadium on Friday evening to receive their diplomas and take the first step as recent graduates into the rest of their lives. The weather remained on the favorable side for the ceremony and the graduates were welcomed with cheering, music, and applause on the Thunderbolt Field turf. Interim Principal Joel Moran spoke highly of the graduates, saying they have truthfully not had a “normal” high school experience compared to years past. “No matter where their lives take them after graduation, and what path they are headed on towards their future, we feel good about their path – and will continue to support them with our actions,” he said. Moran said that while Littlestown was able to keep most students in person as much as possible throughout the years of the pandemic, it was not without its challenges. “This group of students has experienced extreme highs and lows with post-pandemic life — but through it all, they have had the community of Littlestown supporting them every step of the way.” “The Class of 2022 is filled with hardworking and caring individuals. It has been our pleasure to teach many of our soon-to-be graduates and to serve as their advisors for the past four years,” said Class of 2022 Co-Advisors Mariah Becker and Sara Brenneman in email statement. “It was truly a joy to see these students grow from young freshmen to kind, caring, and mature young adults ready to take on the world! We look forward to hearing about how each of them will follow their dreams and do great things in the future!” After the graduates had each received their diplomas, the high school choir gave a rendition of “Remember Me” from the Disney film “Coco” and the high school band also performed. “Wow, this was one wild ride” said Salutatorian Trent Boritz, kicking off the student commencement speeches. “I believe it is important we remember all of the friends we have made along the way and the impact they have made on our lives.” Boritz spoke of warm friendships, comradery with classmates and teachers, and the importance of family and their impact on their journeys. “You all have great futures ahead of you, so don’t look back on your mistakes. Life is too short to worry about the stupid things. Have fun, regret nothing, and don’t let others tell you that you can’t follow your dreams.” “Know this, things will go wrong and you will struggle to get back up – but the hardest times are created for the strongest people,” he said. Valedictorian Lura Johnson expressed her gratitude for the many Littlestown educators, community members, and their families who have helped them along the way. “Don’t let the rest of the day go by without making sure to let them know how thankful you are,” she said. Speaking of the journeys the students had taken, Johnson acknowledged that some may have a clear vision of their future while others may remain uncertain of the path their life may take. “Either way, it is important to take what you have already learned and grow from it,” she said. Johnson encouraged her classmates to begin to consider the world around them and what type of impact they hope to leave (whether big or small) behind them, and to take all that they have learned from their years at Littlestown with them along the way. Johnson quoted French physicist and Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie, saying “Nothing is life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Class President Derek Reed closed the student speeches by focusing on the many challenges the students had overcome and achievements they had made, elaborating on the lengthy history of education in Littlestown, dating back to the 1700s, and bringing it full circle to the class of 2022. “It’s funny to think how some of us were horrified for our freshman year of high school, but look at us now,” he said. Reid noted the hardships the students had overcome, and the achievements that they had made along the way. He encouraged students to remember their Alma Mater as they continue into their futures, reminding them of their class motto: “We will find a way or make one.” Reed closed his speech with a quote from musician Vera Lynn, “Don’t know where, don’t know when, but we’ll meet again someday.” Assistant Principal Dr. Judith Berryman recognized the many students who received awards. Littlestown Area School District Superintendent Christopher Bigger spoke about the word “perspective,” saying “Just when you think you have it figured out, new experiences come in.” Bigger posed the question of the influx of technology to the students and attendees, asking them, in a world of technological advancement, “where do you go to disconnect?” Bigger encouraged students to find a place where they could take a step back from a situation to gain perspective.  “Find that place and visit it often,” he said. Bigger encouraged the graduates to work on maintaining perspective and chasing their dreams, saying that if they were able to continue to seek perspective and asking advice they would be able to build a world they want to live in. “Life is about your future, not our past,” he said. ““So wheels up, take off, fly Thunderbolts.” Featured image from Littlestown Area School District

Bermudian seniors celebrate and reminisce during graduation ceremony

As Bermudian Springs High School celebrated its graduation ceremony on Friday evening, seniors reminisced about their school years while contemplating what their futures might hold. During his speech, valedictorian Ethan Beachy fondly recalled his time at Bermudian Springs. “As a student throughout high school, middle school and even elementary school, I looked forward to the day that school was finally over for good,” Beachy said. “Now that I have experienced all there is to experience, I am not sure the end of school is a thing I should have looked forward to. Quite frankly, I loved my time here at Bermudian Springs and I hope every one of my classmates feels the same way.” Beachy recalled several memories of his time from elementary through high school. “These memories and experiences are so special to me, but there is one thing even more important that I have gained from Bermudian Springs: the lasting relationships and friendships,” Beachy said. Beachy thanked the staff and faculty of the district for their support. He also said he hopes friendships can continue after the students leave the high school. “I hope I can stay close with every single one of you, even as unrealistic as that may be,” Beachy said. “No matter what happens, I will always cherish the time we have spent together.” He also credited his family for “holding me to such a high standard but also giving me endless support.” According to notes provided by the district, Beachy plans to study physics at Bucknell University. He had a cumulative grade point average of 102.716%. Salutatorian Amber Nickey also spoke, saying the years seemed to go by quickly. “It feels like just yesterday I got lost walking to class during freshman year, seeing seniors who I was certain were at least 10 years older than me,” Nickey said. “But look at us now, seniors ourselves. Now is the time to reminisce about all of the unforgettable moments from the past four years.” Nickey had a list of fun memories, including “football games, spirit weeks, powderpuff games, concerts and even the late nights studying.” She told her fellow graduates to enjoy the memories but to look forward to the next part of their lives. “We will begin the portion of our lives where we learn,” Nickey said. “For some of us, that means going to college and studying hard, learning as much as possible about our chosen professions. For others, that means training and learning how to be successful in the workforce. And for some, that still means trying new things and learning what makes you happy.” Nickey said the students would leave their high school textbooks behind but would find new concepts to learn in the years ahead. “We will learn to make tough decisions, like when it is right for us to leave home and take full responsibility for our own lives,” Nickey said. “We will learn how to connect with new people and learn that it is okay to outgrow old friends. Some of these lessons will certainly be difficult to accept, but no matter where the next few years take us, we all will undoubtedly learn more about ourselves, our passions and our goals.” Nickey said she looked forward to seeing how her classmates succeeded as they transitioned to the next stage of their lives. “This is the part where we apply all of our wisdom to the real world,” Nickey said. “Here, we will fulfill those professions that we worked so hard for. We will finally be able to share our passions and talents with the rest of the world.” Nickey thanked her family, friends and the staff at Bermudian Springs for their support. She plans to study chemistry at Millersville University, according to notes provided by the district. Nikey finished school with a cumulative GPA of 102.187%. Class President Lillian Peters found solace in the “wise words” of Hannah Montana’s, “I’ll Always Remember You.” Peters quoted part of the song: “I always knew this day would come. We’d be standing one by one/ With our future in our hands, so many dreams, so many plans/ I always knew that after all these years, there’d be laughter, there’d be tears / But I never thought I’d walk away with so much joy but so much pain/ and it’s so hard to say ‘goodbye.’” Peters said the lyrics perfectly represented her emotions. “While these words may just be lyrics from a first grade idol, they also sum up how many of us are feeling today at this very moment,” Peters said. “I for one cannot believe this day has come and it feels like it shouldn’t be here quite yet.” Peters recalled fun times growing up with her classmates and left the audience with more lyrics from the song. “So instead of ‘goodbye,’ I will say ‘thank you’ and even though: ‘Yesterday’s gone, we gotta keep moving on/ I’m so thankful for the moments, so glad I got to know you / The times that we had, I’ll keep like a photograph /And hold you in my heart forever. I’ll always remember you.’” The ceremony’s invocation was given by Rebekah Gerringer. Senior members of the chorus performed, “The Little Creek” by Matt Carlson. Bailey Oehmig provided the benediction. “We had a beautiful evening for the ceremony,” Jon DeFoe, principal of Bermudian Springs High School, said via email. “The graduates were very appreciative and thankful to be outside for the ceremony.” Editor’s Note: The graduation ceremony was livestreamed through the district’s YouTube page but was partially inaudible. All student quotes were taken from copies of the speeches provided by Bermudian Springs School District following the ceremony. Featured Image: Nickey (l.) and Beachy (r.)

Gettysburg High School seniors graduate after four years of challenges

The Gettysburg High School Class of 2022 has completed a high school experience continually challenged by Covid-19 restrictions. The many challenges and the perseverance of the students to overcome them were highlighted during their commencement ceremony on Friday evening in the football stadium. “Every day we are faced with a unique challenge,” said valedictorian Lucas Samuel Oberholtzer-Hess. “And we can learn to use that challenge to become a better version of ourselves. Overcoming them makes this moment that much more impressive and hopefully that much sweeter.” “This year alone we have faced so many challenges. It was an exceptionally difficult time for us. We have received over half of our high school education trying to learn while trying to stay safe at the same time,” he said. “We’ve all accomplished something in graduating. We can all be proud of ourselves. We’ll continue to be resilient and grow. Remember that this diploma would mean nothing if it hadn’t taken 13 years of schooling.” Oberholtzer-Hess thanked the staff and faculty, saying “these adults have been the ones facilitating our growth through hard times. They always seem to put our needs and our growth first.” High School Principal Jeremy Lusk encouraged students to think every day about “What matters most.” He thanked the board of school directors, school district Superintendent Jason Perrin and Assistant Superintendent Christine Lay as well as the rest of the staff, saying “education remains the most important tool to both empower and improve. Lusk said teachers are more and more deserving of praise every year. “You continue to focus on what matters most: these kids. You continue to be a source of motivation, of strength, of compassion, of encouragement, of understanding.” Lusk stressed the Importance of being present, being involved in the community, and being kind. “Remember how special you are,” he said, noting the students had experienced Covid, closures, remote learning, sickness, distance, fatigue, renovations, and even death. “But in you we saw cooperation, GRIT, resilience, growth, spirit, giving, and light.” Lusk said students with scholastic honors would receive medals for their achievements, including cum Laude (top 10 percent), magna cum laude (top 5 percent) and summa cum laude (top 2 percent). In what has become an annual tradition, Lusk read a poem he had written for the class: Warriors, Get Up! Because you felt so compelled from an early age, Get up! Because it was a sunny day (or even if is not), Get up! Because someone you trust told you to, Get up! Because opportunity is knocking, Get up! Because you cannot seize the day unless you try, Get up! Because someone you love is waiting for you, Get up! Because your mind, body, and soul will benefit, Get up! Because there’s something new to learn somewhere else, Get up! Because the world will not spend time feeling sorry for you, Get up! Because someone else needs you, Get up! Because you just might need a new perspective, Get up! Because challenges lead to growth and obstacles are there to overcome,  Get up! Because there is a lot to be thankful for, Get up! Because no one but you can keep you down, Get up! Because justice doesn’t happen idly, Get up! Because there are places to explore, Get up! Because your passions are calling, Get up! Because you can make the world better if you choose to, Get up! Because you’ve trained for the moment, Get up! Because in the end you’re worth it, Get up! Because you’re surrounded by supporters, Get up! Because the stage of life is waiting for you to walk, Get up!

New Ox seniors move on to conquer new worlds

Although the weather was not auspicious during the ceremony, the futures of the New Oxford High School seniors who graduated on Thursday evening certainly are. Before the graduates accepted their diplomas, staff, faculty and fellow students reminded them that change is inevitable. The graduating seniors were encouraged to welcome change while never forgetting who they truly are. New Oxford principal Christopher T. Bowman said he had known the students since they were in seventh grade. He applauded their hard work when faced with unique challenges. “To my first four-year graduating class as a high school principal: Congrats. You made it,” Bowman said. “You made it through a year that the world of education will never forget. You helped to set the tone for your peers and worked to reestablish so many of our important events and traditions at New Oxford High School. You are to be commended for your spirit and resolve. Your class will certainly be remembered for having battled through a pandemic only to return full-time to make the most of your senior year.” Bowman encouraged the students to treasure the people in their lives and to never stop learning. He told them to learn from their mistakes. “My hopes for you are this: that you will continue to find ways to challenge yourself and make your mark in your community, which can be done in big and small ways,” Bowman said. “The more comfortable you get being uncomfortable, the more readily you will grow. Humble yourself in the face of conflict and adversity and embrace failure as an opportunity to learn. Life is a series of choices and consequences. Strive for choices that will result in positive outcomes.” Two students, Kiefer Bell and Braden Tyson, also delivered speeches to the graduates. Bell told fellow students to boldly take advantage of the chances they receive. “Say, ‘Yes’ to every opportunity that comes your way, especially if it is out of your comfort zone,” Bell said. “I have found that what has allowed me to grow the most were the things I expected the least. Only you can limit yourself, and only you can decide how much of life you are going to conquer, and I don’t know about the rest of you, but I believe we can conquer it all.” Bell said to keep in mind that the end of their high school years was the beginning of their next stage in life. “So, take risks, believe in yourself, be kind, and make your younger self proud and become who you truly want to be when you grow up,” Bell said. Tyson surveyed 100 New Oxford seniors, including 50 females and 50 males, before their graduation to see what single word they would use to sum up their high school experience. Tyson said answers included: “fun, cool, happy, sad” and “homework.” Others used the words, “impactful, mission, hindsight, fleeting, stressful, venturesome, (and) value.” One student, Alex Setliff, provided a response Tyson found striking: “resilience.” “Every generation has obstacles to overcome,” Tyson said. “We could look up commencement speeches from the last fifty years at New Oxford and see messages about difficulties. New or not, these challenges require us to be resilient.” Tyson said failure can be part of the journey – and part of the eventual solution to find success. “We need to start accepting the fact that there are some giants that we will not defeat in the first round,” Tyson said. “You need endurance and stamina to reach some goals. There are moments of glory in life, but they do not come easily or often.” Tyson encouraged students to persevere when they struggle. “… I like to think that Alex wrote ‘resilience’ not just because there were tough moments in high school or tough moments ahead of us,” Tyson said. “He wrote ‘resilience’ because he recognized that each of us demonstrates resilience. Now we take it with us to whatever is next.” Superintendent Sharon Perry encouraged the graduates to remember their friends, family and community, including supporters from within the schools. “We hope you have enjoyed your time with us as much as we have enjoyed our time with you,” Perry said. “We are proud of you. We can’t wait for you to come home and share your successes and achievements with us.” Two teachers, Jamie Weaver and Lauren LaBarca, also addressed the students. Perry introduced each of them, saying that students came up with the paragraphs about each. Weaver said she met the graduates when they were sophomores and urged them to stay true to themselves and accept change. “People have been asking me all of my life how I have so much energy, so much enthusiasm and why I smile so much,” Weaver said. “I’ve never had an answer to those questions; it’s just who I am… More often than not, people misread these traits as naiveté, so being me never felt good enough because kindness and vulnerability felt like weakness. But kindness is not weakness. Vulnerability is not weakness.” Weaver reminded the students to try to do good, to “be kind” and to “take risks.” LaBarca said she met the students when they were in seventh grade. “I’m here today to tell you that your life will forever be a series of paradoxes,” LaBarca said. “So, with this in mind, I thought I’d leave you with the best advice in paradox form that I could come up with. Here it is: Never apologize for being who you are, but, apologize often.” LaBarca also encouraged the students to embrace their true selves. “Be unapologetically you,” LaBarca said. But while the graduates should not apologize for who they are, they should own up to mistakes, LaBarca said. “In my estimation, though, one of the greatest failures of our society is that we don’t accept responsibility for our actions,” LaBarca said. “But if we want to take responsibility for the good that happens, then we also need to be able to take responsibility for the bad. Saying ‘I was wrong,’ or saying ‘I’m sorry:’ These are the most difficult things in the world, yet maybe the most important.” After the speeches were completed, the class officers gave a monetary gift to Perry for the school and class of 2026. Class President Edna Ibisevic left the students with a supporting message. “As we move on from here, the road ahead will not be easy,” Ibisevic said. “We are going to feel alone at times like we cannot possibly go on. However, nothing worthwhile is easy. I think we have all experienced this to some extent in our latest years. You will keep pushing forward because you are worth it.” Class vice president Riley Strausbaugh, secretary Haidee Lupian, treasurer Kiefer Bell, and historian Makenzie Yingling joined Ibisevic to give the gift to Perry. They also led the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the ceremony. Bell performed the National Anthem. The senior choir sang the Alma Mater. Featured image: Graduating senior Kiefer Bell addresses the audience.

FASD will address leadership turnover

The Fairfield Area School District has a high turnover rate, but Superintendent Thomas Haupt says it’s his plan to fix it. Haupt, who began working at the district in January, said the high turnover rates occur largely in “very key leadership positions.” He pointed out that the special education supervisor will be the fourth in seven years. During the meeting, the board approved the resignation of Kaleb Crawford, the district’s coordinator of technology, and will now hire the third person in six years for that role. Tim Stanton, who was hired this year, is the fourth business manager in three years, according to Haupt. “I’m really the third superintendent in a seven-year period,” Haupt said. “I’m looking to obviously change that trend with my tenure here.” The superintendent said he will soon show the board a draft organizational chart and job descriptions for the middle and high school assistant principal position. He also wants to give them a “peek behind the curtains” of his vision for the next three to five years. “That’s all-around transformation, and really how we look now versus how we would look three to five years from now and the steps along the way,” Haupt said. “Very high-level. We have quite a bit of work to do this summer in terms of developing plans, but again, I look forward to doing that work with the team that we’re building.” Haupt said he won’t reduce the turnover rate or address other issues on his own. He plans to seek feedback from teachers, members of administration, community members and students as well as the board. Stanton said the business office has also realized the need to cross train people to handle payroll in the event that the primary person who handles it is unable to work. That training will begin this week and will mean the district will not need to rely on only one person to handle payroll. 2023-24 budget In its consent agenda, the board approved keeping the tax millage rate at 11.1305, reaffirming its decision to not raise the rate. With the Adjusted Index at 4%, the board had the option to raise the tax millage rate to 11.5757. The board also voted to adopt the 2022-23 proposed preliminary budget, which will likely be finalized during the board’s meeting on June 27. Eighth grade appreciation The board debated what eighth grade appreciation should look like. Some wanted to see the currently scaled-back appreciation return to being the bigger event it used to be. Board Vice President Jack Liller said nothing had been done for it since 2018 and he was glad it was being celebrated again. Liller said he supported inviting parents but didn’t think it necessarily needed to be a larger event. “They’re 14 years old, so I don’t think they need ceremonies to graduate from every other year, but I would go so far as to say that we should have students tell us if they want their parents there,” Liller said. “They’re 14. It wasn’t meant to be a, like, award ceremony. It was meant to be a fun day of pizza, you get a couple of awards, you watch movies with your teachers– all of that stuff wrapped into it. It’s not like they’re walking down and taking a photo op kind of– I think we’re looking at it like it’s supposed to be a ceremony when it wasn’t. It was just a kind of, ‘You’re going to high school. Let’s have a pizza party’ kind of thing.” Some on the board felt it should be a bigger event with parents welcome to attend. Board member Candace Ferguson-Miller said she was once a student in the district and had fond memories of the eighth grade appreciation being a bigger event. At the time she attended, she said parents could also attend and students were treated to a formal and dinner. “So for what we have now is heartbreaking to me to see that, one, it was going to start off as announcing them over the announcements to come get their awards at the office,” Ferguson-Miller said. “And then parents complained about that, and then it went to, ‘We’re going to livestream it and you can watch it online.’ And I just think that these kids have worked so hard for the last two and a half years, and their parents have worked very hard to get them to where they are.” Ferguson-Miller also said she feels the district needs to intentionally reach out more to middle school students and create more events for them. “I think that these middle school kids get lost and there aren’t a lot of activities, and things have been lost for them,” Ferguson-Miller said. She said the need is even greater since FASD sends fifth grade students to middle school while many other districts do not. She also pushed for asking parents to participate. “Our parents work hard and they want their kids to do well, and I think that the parents should be involved in the things that they do,” Ferguson-Miller said. Board member Kelly Christiano said she felt that if middle school students don’t play sports, there is “literally nothing for them.” Like Ferguson-Miller, Christiano said she enjoyed the larger eighth grade appreciation when she was a student. She said she hoped the community would help the district add more opportunities for extracurricular activities. Board member Lisa Sturges said she was unsure why eighth grade appreciation was canceled after 2018, but agreed the district needed to reach out more to the middle school students. She said there is an increase in bullying and that “differences became more apparent” in those grades, making it harder for students to feel that they fit in. Haupt said he was “highly appreciative” of the efforts to bring back eighth grade appreciation. He said he wanted to know what the eighth grade students would like going forward, adding he didn’t think “their voices should go unheard in the future.” He felt it was too close to the date of the appreciation to change the plan and invite parents to attend this year. When asked what was preventing parents from attending, Haupt said he was unsure. Only two parents have inquired about attending, he said. Board President Jennifer Holz stopped the discussion by saying it was not something the board could act on, although she was glad the board was aware of the issue. Other business Sturges, the board’s newest member, was approved as the district’s representative for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. Haupt thanked the board members for planning to attend the high school graduation ceremony scheduled for June 1. “I know that we have been doing a lot of work as a board and I just want to say, ‘Thank you’ to this board on many fronts but especially, our culminating activity every year to me is graduation,” Haupt said. “I honestly have, in my tenure as superintendent, been encouraging all nine members of a board to attend graduation every year, and this is the first year that I believe this is going to happen. So a credit to all of you for attending. It’s 13 years’ worth of work for our students and staff, so it’s certainly meaningful and I appreciate you attending, so thank you for supporting that.” Holz said the board planned to hold an executive session following the open meeting in order to discuss personnel matters. She said the board also held sessions on May 9 and May 16 for legal and personnel issues. The next regular board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, June 14. Meetings are held in the district board room and are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

LASD proposes 1 percent property tax increase

On a split 6-3 vote, the Littlestown Area School District (LASD) school board approved a proposed 2022-23 budget that includes a 1% property tax increase. Voting against the budget were board members Jeanne Ewen, Nicki Kenny, and Shari Kruger. Kenny initially made a motion to table the budget “so that it may be sent back to committee or administration for a deeper look on how to remove the 1% tax increase.” Reasons given for tabling included that the information had not been received in a timely manner and that more study time for considering the budget was needed. The motion to table failed with only Ewen, Kenny, and Kruger voting in the affirmative. The district said more changes were likely to be made before a final vote in June. Four foreign exchange students, who hail from Brazil, Russia, Japan, and France and who have attended Littlestown High School this year, received accolades from principal Joey Moran. Following the board’s recognition, the students each presented a flag from their home country to the school. These flags will begin a tradition where future exchange students will add a personalized message to flags from their home country, or by gifting a flag of their own. The three April students of the month, pictured below, were honored with tales of laughter, achievement, and success. Student reporters from the middle and high school summarized end of the year testing, celebrations, and events for the board. Among the news: the high school prom was a success and all students are looking forward to their summer break, swiftly approaching in June. Beth Becker gave a report for the Thunderbolt Foundation. Some exciting highlights included the award of 5 Innovative Inquiry Grant Programs that provide  teachers extra funds to support programs that are “above and beyond what teachers can do in the classroom, and using things that are not supported in the regular school budget.” The five winners, who represented elementary, middle, and high school will use their funds for projects including supporting homeless students with clothing and food supplies, using journaling to support student and staff mental health, and a circus project that will bring a week-long residency and culminating performance in the fall. The Thunderbolt foundation hopes these projects will increase inquiry and innovation for students who are able to participate in these efforts. Superintendent Chris Bigger spoke highly of the Senior Self Improvement Award Breakfast which has been organized by Bill Shoemaker and Walt Jones for the last 20 years. “This [event] highlights students who have overcome significant challenges in their home life, school life, and personal life. Some of the stories are heart-wrenching but schools attend the breakfast and it is a great ceremony, and families attend. It is neat to watch a student overcome challenges and then be confident enough to talk about it and share in a room full of people.” Upcoming Events: Spring High School Music Department Concert – Thursday at 6:30 Littlestown High Auditorium. Thunderbolt Foundation Clothing Drive – May 21st at Alloway Creek Elementary School Thunderbolt Foundation Golf Tournament – May 27th Fun Fest Summer Reading Kickoff – June 2 at Gettysburg Rec Park Graduation – June 3 at Littlestown High School Featured image caption: From left to right: Florence Vandersluys- France; Riko Kambayashi- Japan; Anna Titova- Russia; Maria “Duda” Marton- Brazil The next board meeting will be held June 20th at 6 p.m.

CVSD proposes 4.6 percent tax increase

The Conewago Valley School District has included a substantial tax increase in its proposed Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget. District Business Manager Lori Duncan said the district can balance its budget with a millage of 14.8525, representing a 4.6 percent increase from the current rate. The rate is the maximum allowed under the state’s Act 1 limitations. Duncan said the district should receive more state funding than it does. “The state is [supposed] to provide about 50% of the support to the schools and as you can see, they’re only providing about 35.3%,” she said. Board President Edward Groft agreed, saying that the funding is based on student enrollment from 1997 and that approaching representatives and senators hasn’t helped. The board hopes to avoid touching the district’s fund balance of $7,808,751 during the 22-23 school year. “I will say that that fund balance, if we would have to dip into that every year, at some point we would not be sustainable,” Groft said. “So every time, we sit down and talk about what we need to do. What can we do to make sure we can still be here in 5 or 10 years, especially with our community growing the way it is? Keep in mind all of those figures up there are kind of bare bones. It’s what we can do, what we can offer to maintain what we have for every student in this population.” Duncan also pointed to charter school enrollment as a factor in the budget. On average, it costs the district $11,343 for a student to attend a cyber or brick-and-mortar charter school and $28,151 for a special education student to attend. With a total of 209 students, including 26 special education students, opting for charter schools, the district has $2,807,695 effectively “going out the door,” according to Duncan. “When we look at those numbers, it also gives us an idea of how much additional staff and programs we could offer if we had those funds staying in our district,” Duncan said. Duncan said that over the past several years, there haven’t been significant changes to the district’s financial situation. “You’ll see that we’ve taken some slight dips but we’re hanging in there pretty steadily and haven’t really been growing but we’re maintaining at this point in time,” Duncan said. Lynne Miller, supervisor of student services, said she will hold a meeting to discuss how to use Title funds. The meeting will be held from 7-8 p.m. Thursday, May 19 via Zoom and invitations will be sent to families and staff. The board will adopt the final budget during its board meeting in June. Other business Superintendent Sharon Perry announced that a new assistant superintendent, Robert Walker, will begin working on June 2. Perry previously served as the assistant superintendent before taking on the role of superintendent. The board unanimously reelected Luke Crabill as its treasurer. Stephanie Corbin, director of special education, shared a statement provided by a teacher. In the reflection, the teacher said she was anxious about working in a new position, and “terrified” after discovering students were below their grade level. The teacher soon realized how quickly the students would progress. “’I quickly found out that these students are some of the most hardworking, kind and motivated kids I have ever had in my career,’” Corbin read. “’Beyond that, I have seen incredible growth. I have students who have made two to three years of academic progress in just one year and they’re very excited about May, as we will be reading and studying our final novel of the year. My students have read three different novels with me in class this year. Knowing where we started in August, way below grade level, this is an incredibly huge feat for them. I watched their skills, confidence and their love of reading grow. I am so proud of their hard work, their focus and their amazing attitudes and perseverance.’” Corbin said the statement was an encouraging snapshot showcasing the “passion, the dedication, the commitment and the heart of our teachers and our students” in Conewago Valley. Recognition The board recognized several students for recent achievements: Aden Garcia was recognized for being named the New Oxford High School Rotary Student of the Month for April Brando Gonzalez was recognized for winning Best of Show in the Recyclable Art Contest held by the Adams County Arts Council Shaely Stabler was a nominee for the Gettysburg Times Spring Sports Athlete of the Week for April 11 Camden Elmo was named the Gettysburg Times Spring Sports Athlete of the Week for April 11 The board also noted 15 students who received college acceptances and 12 students who received scholarships totaling $1,379,450. Jonathan Makowski will receive a Teacher Impact Award from WITF. He will be given the award on May 24 at the WITF Media Center in Harrisburg. The board held executive sessions on April 11 and May 2, as well as meetings before and after the open meeting on Monday, to discuss “personnel, confidential and legal information,” according to the board’s agenda. The board will hold a study session at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 6 in the district office. The next regular board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 13 in the district office. Meetings are also recorded and posted to the district’s YouTube channel.

Bermudian proposes 4.7 percent tax hike

The Bermudian Springs school board approved a preliminary budget for 2022-23 that includes a potential tax increase of 4.7 percent, the maximum allowed under the state’s Act 1 limitations. The millage rate would move from 12.4656 to 13.0514. The board unanimously agreed to the preliminary budget, and voted 7-2 on the potential tax increase. Board members Jennifer Goldhahn and Travis Mathna voted against the proposed increase. Board President Michael Wool said nothing is set in stone. “Again, remember, this is not our final budget,” he said. “This is just setting our preliminary. At this time what we’re saying is our budget will not exceed the Act 1 index but could come in under.” To help meet the target of $18,771,398 in local revenue, the proposal included these taxes: Real estate – 13.0514 mills Act 679 per capita $5 Act 511 per capita $5 Act 511 earned income tax 1.2% Act 511 real estate transfer 0.5% Act 511 amusement 5% The board also approved on a 6-3 vote signing another year-long contract with Brooke Say, the district’s solicitor through Stock and Leader. Board Assistant Secretary Mary Kemper, Goldhahn, and Mathna voted against the approval. The board unanimously approved entering a contract with TherAbilities for speech and occupational therapy and with Ellen Nelson for school psychologist services, both on an as-needed basis. The board also unanimously agreed to buy a single student space at Yellow Breeches Educational Center for $30,856. Three people spoke during the time for public comment, with two bringing up the ongoing discussion to increase transparency. One parent said she appreciated efforts to create a syllabus for classes so parents can be up-to-date on what their child will be learning in the classroom, adding that she thought other parents would also be pleased with it. The second parent felt uncomfortable with a discussion her child’s class had on communism during a citizenship class. The parent said the teacher voiced “pros” of communism, and while the instructor did open the floor to students to voice opposing points, the bell rang before they had the opportunity to speak. The parent said she volunteered to speak about her thoughts on it based on her travel experiences, including in Yugoslavia and Hong Kong. While she did obtain a syllabus, she said she didn’t see the word “communism” mentioned in it. She asked that the schools keep it simple. “What we’re concerned about is that there are principles being taught to our kids that are not in line with our family values at home,” she said. “So sticking to the basics of math and science, historical literature and history. Let’s just leave some of these perspectives that we’re seeing all the time in media every day that’s coming out– let’s just leave them at home.” Jennifer Zerfing, a former board member, listed teachers she appreciated. She also commented on the citizenship class as her son was in the same class but had a different experience. “We had a very interesting discussion on communism and politics in general, and interestingly enough, after that class my son doubled down on his Republican-held views that may or may not be the same as mine and that’s fine… But I thought it was interesting that having a student in the same class kind of had exactly a different takeaway,” Zerfing said. “He felt that he was given a very good example of why communism isn’t what he would want for his country. I just thought that was interesting how two different kids can come from the same lesson and get a different takeaway.” Goldhahn took a moment to thank Dr. Shannon Myers, the district’s assistant superintendent, for her help in creating a template for class syllabi as part of the effort to increase transparency. “I just wanted to publicly say to Dr. Myers: Thank you for your hard work with the syllabus and I think we can move forward and go with the syllabus,” Goldhahn said. Myers gave credit to the teachers. “They’re the ones who provided input,” Myers said. “The format itself was easy for me. I’m looking forward to moving forward and getting something consistent in place for everyone.” Other business Ruth Griffie was unanimously re-elected as the board’s treasurer. The board approved the hiring of Joshua Korb as its next director of innovation. Korb will replace Kheila Dunkerly following her resignation. The board also approved the hire of several other individuals, including 11 summer custodians and 22 positions for Summer Experiences 2022 (STEAM Camp, Camp K and Literacy Camp.) It approved the resignation of Sonja Brunner, director of special education, effective June 8. Superintendent Shane Hotchkiss congratulated Myers for receiving the 2022 Wanda McDaniel Award from the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA). According to the website for PASA, the award is given to “an aspiring female administrator who shows evidence of great leadership potential.” Hotchkiss said he nominated Myers for the award. She will receive it at an awards banquet. Myers announced that United Way of Adams County chose Bermudian Springs to receive the 2022 health award in recognition of its contributions to the Bag the Bounty program. Myers said the district will be formally recognized during an awards ceremony on June 8. Hotchkiss noted that academic and athletic awards will be given next week and that graduation will be held soon. He encouraged the community to attend an event. “It’s one of the best times to be in a school district,” he said. “So stop by campus, see an activity, come to a concert. Our staff has done an amazing job to prepare our athletes, and our non-athletes and our band and choral students, and really, it’s a great time to kind of celebrate the gifted kids we have.” The board will hold a caucus meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, June 13 and a regular board meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 14. Meetings are held in the auditorium of Bermudian Springs High School and are posted online to the district’s YouTube channel.

Collaborating for Youth Virtual Town Meeting

Adams County’s Collaborating for Youth (CFY) will be hosting a FREE and virtual Town Hall Meeting on Monday, May 23 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.   The event will take place virtually on Zoom – please visit www.cfygettysburg.com for more information on how to access this event.  The Town Hall Meeting is entitled “Youth Voices – Emerging From Covid” and is the first of a three-part series. CFY will present the 2021 Pennsylvania Youth Survey data results and trends of Adams County youth.  This first event will feature drug & alcohol trends, the second event will be on youth mental health, held on June 27 and the third will be about risk & protective factors and youth attitudes held on July 25. All three events will be on zoom and will be at 6 p.m.  The three events are open to all Adams County residents interested in learning about this important information. According to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency website:  “Since 1989, the Commonwealth has conducted a survey of school students in the 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grades to learn about their behavior, attitudes and knowledge concerning alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and violence. The ‘Pennsylvania Youth Survey,’ or PAYS, is sponsored and conducted every two years by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.  The data gathered in PAYS serve two primary needs. First, the results provide school administrators, state agency directors, legislators and others with critical information concerning the changes in patterns of the use and abuse of these harmful substances and behaviors. Second, the survey assesses risk factors that are related to these behaviors and the protective factors that help guard against them. This information allows community leaders to direct prevention resources to areas where they are likely to have the greatest impact.”  Collaborating for Youth has worked with the school districts and community agencies in Adams County to analyze this data to understand the unique trends of Adams County Youth and to seek out needed services within the area. Collaborating For Youth is Adams County’s community-based, data-driven coalition that works to support positive youth development and substance-free, positive futures. For over 20 years CFY has continued to grow by supporting services and engaging new community groups to assure that their coalition is driven by the voices in the community they seek to serve.  CFY is located at the Center for Youth and Community Development on 233 West High Street in Gettysburg, PA. 

FASD Proposes no new taxes in 2022-23

No tax increases were included in the Fairfield Area School District’s proposed budget during the school board’s meeting on Monday evening. The board held two back-to-back meetings, first holding its regular meeting, then going into a budget work session. Tim Stanton, the district’s new business manager, presented the draft budget to the board. Stanton explained that the budget was created using anticipated revenues and expenditures with little wiggle room in the line items. “There’s no padding in the budget, no surpluses built into the budget,” Stanton said. “And when you budget for what you think the actual revenue is going to be and what the actual expenditures are going to be, potentially you may have some surprises with some negative variances of things that come up that are unexpected at this time of year that will surface six months from now. And so to handle that, I traditionally put in a budget contingency built into the budget.” The contingency fund will be set at $100,000. “It’s not intended to be a slush fund that people can just go to,” Stanton said. “It’s for those unexpected circumstances, and to pull stuff from the contingency, you have to get permission from the superintendent to do so.” The district can raise its millage rate and bring in an extra $381,627, with the average taxpayer paying about an extra $70, but Stanton said he wasn’t requesting a tax increase for the 2022-23 fiscal year budget. Last year the increase was 2.08%. Stanton said higher anticipated earned income tax and real estate taxes helped increase the budget this year, preventing the need for a millage increase. “So you know when COVID hit, everybody thought, ‘We’re going to have a huge amount of unemployment,’” Stanton said. “People would be laid off and can’t go to work and that would have a huge negative impact to school districts’ earned income tax. In one of the budgets, it was dropped from the traditional amount of $2.3 million down to $1.6 million thinking that the pandemic would have a huge negative impact.” The FY 22-23 budget includes the original $2.3 million in estimated earned income tax revenue. It also adds an extra $79,952 of anticipated additional real estate taxes thanks to the assessed property values increasing by $7.7 million. It will all come together to equate to a surplus of about $188,955, according to Stanton. The budget also includes the third round of ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funding, which amounts to $408,470. Raising meal prices Along with Superintendent Thomas J. Haupt, Stanton recommended raising school meal fees to have a rate closer to that of districts in Adams, York and Franklin counties. Breakfast at the elementary school currently costs $1.25. Middle school and high school students do not have a school-provided breakfast. Lunch costs $2.65 at the elementary school and $2.85 at the middle and high schools. Adults are charged $3.85. According to Stanton, his queries to other nearby districts revealed that they average a rate of $1.46 for breakfast. Stanton suggested that the board increase the elementary breakfast fee from $1.25 to $1.45 and begin offering it to middle and high school students. He said that within the districts he communicated with, it was “atypical” for schools to not provide breakfast to high school and middle school students. Stanton said he wants to learn if students would be interested in a “grab and go breakfast” they could take to their first period classroom. Not offering breakfast to the older students is “kind of leaving money on the table,” Stanton said. Raising the amount of students eating breakfast would boost the amount the district is reimbursed for meals from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the district would receive more in subsidies for free and reduced meals. Stanton suggested that the district charge $1.55 for middle and high school students’ breakfasts to be close to the average of $1.54, with adults paying $2. Stanton advised the board to raise the lunch prices from $2.65 to $2.75 for elementary school students, from $2.85 to $2.95 for middle and high school students, and from $3.85 to $4 for adults. Haupt also asked the board to consider the suggestions to help cover costs and because the free meals offered for all students by the state will end on June 30. “During COVID, remember: Every meal that we serve, it is being reimbursed from the state at the free rate, and you see that that is the highest reimbursement that we get from the state,” Haupt said. Stanton said the extra reimbursements will result in a profit for the district’s food services this year that will be hard to match next year once the program returns to normal after June. According to Thomas and Haupt, the district used to raise prices about $0.10 per meal per year, but there have been no increases since 2016. Haupt said administration would likely recommend raising the prices again next year as the district continues to catch up to its neighbors. The board plans to vote on the proposed budget during its next meeting on May 23, then adopt a final budget on June 27. Elementary school pavilions Laura Gomba, president of the Fairfield Elementary School PTO, said the elementary school will receive two new pavilions this summer. Each pavilion will be set by a playground, one for older children and one for younger children. The largest will be installed by the older kids’ playground. Eventually, Gomba said the PTO hopes to add up to 10 picnic tables for the pavilions, but she did not have a firm date as the pavilions have not yet been constructed. “Thank you to all of the parents, too, for all of the fundraising this year, as well, because that got us a lot of support with this,” Gomba said. Other business Haupt said he attended the National Honor Society induction. He also noted the Dwight D. Eisenhower Senior Self-Improvement Award Breakfast recently held at Adams County Technical Institute. According to Haupt, four Fairfield students were among those honored. “And again, just a great recognition for our kids who have really overcome a lot in their lifetimes and have really displayed a lot of resilience, so a credit to those kids,” Haupt said. The board announced that it held executive sessions on personnel and legal matters on April 27, May 2 and May 4. The next regular meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, May 23. Meetings are held in the district board room and are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

Tensions run high as LASD proposes 1 percent school tax increase

As the Littlestown Area School District (LASD) proposed a school tax increase of one percent at its workshop meeting on Monday, parents and community members, many of them retirees, voiced their concerns. The tone of the meeting was tense throughout. Many residents expressed grave concerns about any kind of increase to their property taxes that were the result of building remodeling.  “While there may not be a good time, there would certainly be a better time to raise our taxes. With inflation and increasing costs, now is not the better time,” said one concerned community member; other speakers echoed concerns about a rise in gasoline prices and day-to-day cost of living expenses. Parents and community members brainstormed various solutions to their concerns, from slicing district salaries that make up 70% of the current budget or asking teachers to forgo their annual raise. The district said only about 20 percent of expenditures were under their control. The district said expenses had been cut by $365,000 but that the tax increase was needed to meet current needs. The cost of the proposed tax increase would be $1.08 per month for a property assessed at $100,000, $2.15 per month for a property assessed at $200,000, and $3.23 per month for a property assessed at $300,000. Residents who are approved will receive an increase in the 2022-23 homestead/farmstead exclusion that will more than offset the proposed tax increase. Board members expressed an array of emotions during the meeting, some expressing concern about a lack of transparency regarding the current proposal including the lack of a line-by-line breakdown of expenditures. Other board members supported items in the proposed budget, especially those relating to mental health services. safety, and prevention. The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be on May 16 at 7:00 pm.

GASD openly discusses budget constraints and potential cost savings

The Gettysburg Area School District (GASD) board of directors spent over an hour on Monday evening discussing their new budget. The discussion came after District Superintendent Jason Perrin and Business Manager Belinda Wallen proposed a 2022-23 budget that would include a 1.9 percent tax increase. The district said many cost increases were out of their control, mostly due to increases in personnel benefits. Perrin pointed out that the proposal was still in flux noting the district had cut about $931,000 in proposed expenditures in the last two weeks. The district said it had reduced its proposed building expenses by about $200,000 but that transportation costs would increase by about $200,000.  Perrin said he “hated to raise taxes” but noted the increase is small, based on an expenditure increase of about 1.3 percent of which about 1.2 percent is salaries and benefits. Perrin noted the district has increased taxes at an average of only .66 percent since the 2018-19 budget year and that if the proposed increase was approved the average would move to .91 percent per year. Saying again that the goal was to have frequent small increases rather than infrequent large increases, he noted the increase would be about $54 per year for the average parcel. The district faces expenses of between $4.5-5 million for charter schools and $230,000 in unreimbursed free school lunch programs that occurred during the pandemic. Perrin said the only increase in expenses in the proposal was the creation of the new school resource officer program. Wallen said the only way to avoid a tax increase would be to move Kindergarten from full day to half day. The budget also includes a decrease in 4 professional and 3 classified positions. The proposed reductions will occur through staff retirements that are not replaced. Responding to concerns about foreclosures based on property tax increases, a county representative said there had only been two foreclosed properties in the school district over the past year and that the county always works with homeowners to make arrangements to pay the taxes. Responding to a question about the plan to cut staff positions, High School Principal Jeremy Lusk said they would be able to meet state requirements after the cuts but that the changes would affect course offerings. Lusk said the retirement of a math teacher would lead to higher course sizes, particularly among the upper-level courses. “Yes, it leads to higher class sizes. Our [higher-level classes] already run with high volume,” he said. Lusk said the other two positions were in Family and Consumer Science and Health and Physical Education.  “It changes things,” he said. Board member Michelle Smyers asked for more details about the budget, including coaching salaries and mental health expenditures. Wallen walked the board through the broad expense categories, while saying a line item analysis could be provided before the next meeting. Hodges said she was against the increase and made a motion to table the budget, a motion that failed. Board member Ryan Davis said he was concerned with the need to continue raising taxes. “How do we operate within our means?  We have to operate this like a business. Where do we cut? What do we do?” he asked. “Nobody wants to raise taxes,” said board member Tim Seigman.  “If a household is paying $3500 in school taxes but they have three kids and it’s costing us $18,000 a piece to educate them that $3500 doesn’t do anything.” Only Hodges voted against the proposed budget.

So many activities at the Littlestown library

My name is Jess Shelleman (Miss Jess to the kids) and I’m the Branch Manager at Littlestown Library. I’ve been in this position for over three years, and I truly love what I do. Where else can you run a baby story time in the morning, a STEM program for kids in the afternoon, and a murder mystery for adults in the evening?! And in between, you get to have conversations with local patrons of the community and help them find the books, movies, and information they need. I previously worked in a much larger library in a different library system, but it didn’t take long for me to adjust and come to love and appreciate my small-town library in Littlestown. Working in a smaller community really allows you to get to know those you serve. I’ve been a resident of Adams County my whole life, and have been a user of the Adams County Library System since I was a child, when the main library in Gettysburg was on East High St., a block from its current location. As a child and a teen using the Gettysburg Library, little did I know about the workings behind the scene that help to serve all areas of the county through the local branch libraries. From inter-library loans to weekly book rotations, the Gettysburg Library is the backbone of our system. You’ll find Littlestown Library right in downtown Littlestown in the South-Western corner of Adams County. Being just a few miles from York County and Carroll County, and only a few blocks from both the Littlestown Area Schools and Stoner’s Farm, we serve community members of all ages from the Littlestown area and beyond! While there’s been a library in Littlestown for many years, it moved to its current location at 232 North Queen St. over 11 years ago. Through the hard work, dedication, and generosity of many local community members and organizations, and the then newly formed Friends of Littlestown Library, the dream of a larger, more beautiful library to serve the community became a reality. One of my favorite parts of the library building is our large front window. You’ll often find small handprints on the lower level of the window, as we’ve found it’s the perfect spot for out littlest patrons to stare out and watch all the cars and trucks drive by. Every summer, we also use our window to celebrate the kids who participate in our SummerQuest reading program. Each time one of the kids reaches 200 minutes of reading, they get to put their name on a design and stick it up in the window. This summer’s theme is “Oceans of Possibilities,” so naturally we’ll be turning our window into an underwater landscape and filling it with fish and other deep sea creatures! Make sure to stop by this summer to watch our window ocean grow. Speaking of summer, we have lots of upcoming programs for all ages! While we offer programming year-round, the libraries of Adams County kick it into high gear for the summer months. We like to keep the kids and grown-ups busy all summer long. Most the programs at Littlestown Library take place in our community room, which is a great location for all sorts of programs. From story times to dinosaur bones, from video games to gardening talks, the community room is always a busy place of fun and learning. Stop by Littlestown Library and discover everything we have to offer!

LASD honors students; moves forward on building plans

Staff, students, and members of the community joined together at the Littlestown Area School District (LASD) board meeting on Monday night to celebrate the achievements of district students. The students addressed the board, reviewing many student activities, events, and sports news. The students spoke fondly of current events at their school and eagerly about upcoming events. Students also described the Cultural Week being orchestrated by the social studies department, saying all grades and students have come together in an act of cultural diversity and respect to promote interconnectedness throughout the building – from the 150 flags in the social studies wing to the food being served in the cafeteria. The high school prom will be held May 14th from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. with a theme of “rustic.” The district also honored the April Students of the Month: Ava Clark (2nd Grade), Kaily Miller (12th grade), Gabriel Eaves (12th Grade), Caden Schachle (5th Grade), and Jacob Duttera (6th Grade). The board said these students display some of the greatest qualities of motivated, successful, academically focused, and community-driven young people in the state. 33 of the district’s students attended the recent Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA) leadership conference and 3 of Littlestown’s own are heading to a leadership conference in Chicago in June. Graduating senior Nick Lovell, the PA FBLA State President, spoke of his time in the district. “FBLA has been one of the world-class opportunities that being a Littlestown student has provided me and I am confident that it will help many more in the future,” he said. Lovell helped create the bridge among online, hybrid, and in-person events and fundraising opportunities. Lovell said the district had a bright future ahead of it, and the district congratulated him on a job well done. The district also honored Heidi Merwede as the Adams County Educator of the Year saying that in her 9 years as an employee of the district, Merwede has exceeded in each of the qualifying areas to be not only an exemplary member of the district but also of the community. The board said Merwede was an advocate for students and a proud example of professionalism and dedication in the field of education. The board discussed the need for a new building to replace the Maple Ave. Middle School. Response to the plans was overwhelmingly positive from parents and community members as they spoke of accepting a tax increase to support the construction of a new building. Speakers said they hoped the building would provide safety, efficiency, and security for staff and students, and draw new members into the community. A point of contention was the purchase of a brand new 2023 Chevy 2500 Pickup Truck with a snowplow for a price of $44,000. “Does the county plow our lots or are we responsible for that? Do we not have other equipment that we could fix a snowplow to rather than spend $44,000 on a brand new truck?” asked board member Nikki Kenny. The board said the truck was already budgeted for and was necessary. The motion carried at a vote of 7-yes, and 2-no. Featured Image caption: Clark, Miller, Eaves, and Duttera. The next meeting of the LASD board of directors will be Monday May 9 at 6:00 p.m. at the Littlestown High School.

FASD welcomes a new board and a new administrator

The Fairfield Area School Board has unanimously approved former Fairfield teacher Lisa M. Sturges as a new board member. Sturges currently serves as a volunteer. She said her time as a teacher will contribute to her success as a board member thanks to her knowledge of the daily life of a teacher. She also praised the district as a whole. “I came here and spent almost my whole career here because of the community, the parents, what I was provided with as a teacher, and the students,” Sturges said. She said she has enjoyed seeing former first grade students become parents in the district. Sturges said her time helping lead the local teachers’ association will also help her in her new position on the board. Sturges said she feels the district has done well, but noted that she benefited from workshops through the Lincoln Intermediate Unit when she was a teacher and would like to see more offered to teachers. She also cautioned the district to be aware of changing needs and practices within the field of education. “I think that with some of our current circumstances health-wise that we’ve had, we have gone more virtual… I think education is evolving because of that,” Sturges said. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I think we have to learn how to mesh technology, which we were a little lagging in at times, with the students and how they’re learning today.” Sturges will fill the seat of former board member Richard Phillip, who resigned effective March 21 due to moving outside of the district. Her term will expire in December 2023. The board also unanimously voted to hire Sonja L. Brunner as the assistant to the superintendent for curriculum, special education and student services. Brunner currently serves as the director of special education for the Bermudian Springs school district, according to that district’s website. The board voted to approve Brunner’s four-year contract beginning June 1. Other business Superintendent Thomas Haupt and the board recognized Teacher Appreciation Week early as the board will not hold a regular meeting next week. Haupt said he has worked to get an idea of what teachers would appreciate and learned staff would enjoy food more than “trinkets,” he said. He is working with Crystal Heller, the district’s food service supervisor, on “surprises” for teachers for most days next week. The board also unanimously approved the Pennsylvania School Board Association’s (PSBA) seven Principles of Governance and Leadership. PSBA keeps a searchable public list of districts that have agreed to the list. “The first is ‘advocate earnestly,’ the second is ‘lead responsibly,’ the third is ‘govern effectively,’ the fourth is ‘plan thoughtfully,’ the fifth is ‘evaluate continuously,’ the sixth is ‘communicate clearly,’ and lastly, seven is ‘act ethically,’” Haupt said. Andrew Kuhn, athletic director for the district, said he is still working to set up a time to have a signing day for six student athletes. The date and time will be announced on the district’s website and social media accounts, according to Kuhn. Kuhn announced that the athletic awards night will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 25 in the high school auditorium. No one signed up to offer public comment during the meeting. The board will hold its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, May 9 in the district board room. Meetings are also livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

GASD wrestles with budget: some tax increase likely

Saying they wanted to have the lowest tax increase necessary, Superintendent Jason Perrin and Business Manager Belinda Wallen presented the Gettysburg Area School District board with three potential draft budgets that involve either a zero percent, a two percent, or a four percent tax increase. The potential increases are necessary because expenses are expected to rise at an average of 2.7 percent across all categories, from $69.4 million 2021-22 to $71.3 million in 2022-23.  The biggest increases are in property services and supplies, each of which are expected to rise about 11 percent. See the full budget presentation here. On the revenue side, state revenue is projected to remain the same at about $19 million, whereas federal revenue is expected to decrease to less than $1 million in comparison to the $1.7 million received during the 20-21 pandemic year. Expenses would have to be cut about $2 million to avoid a tax increase. Wallen said local revenue has increased by about $750,000, in part due to better collection practices. Wallen said there are still a lot of unknown variables, and that the district was working with the county assessment office to estimate the effects of new housing starts and collection percentage. The district said it has a $6.1 million fund balance and can use about $2.4 million of that to offset revenues and expenditures.  The fund balance is set aside for spending in this year’s budget but also for unexpected expenses. Wallen said the district had been decreasing its reliance on using its reserve funds to balance the budget, but that doing so would likely be necessary again. Perrin said the district has been getting better at predicting revenue, and that the budget had only increased about 8% over the past 5 years.  “We’ve done a really good job at controlling costs,” he said. The option of decreasing the reserve fund balance below the currently-mandated requirement was discussed but Perrin and Wallen said that might reduce the credit rating and increase borrowing costs. The district hopes to adopt a proposed budget at its May 2 meeting, which must be published 30 days before a vote on final adoption. New take on School Resource Officer GASD has been operating without as School Resource Officer (SRO) since about February 25 when a contract to provide services with the Cumberland Township Police Force ended. To address the problem, the district is developing a plan to hire SRO Police officers as part of the system rather than contracting with a service. Other school districts, including Chambersburg and Waynesboro, currently use that approach. The district is creating policies and a job description for the new program and expects to have one or more officers in place by early Fall. Officers hired by the district would complete a municipal training course as well as a national SRO training course. The district would then petition to the Court of Common Pleas which would authorize individuals to serve. The officers would be given permission to exercise police powers including carrying a firearm and making arrests. The district noted that local law enforcement agencies still respond to any emergencies that may arise in the schools.

UASD faces 2022-23 budget shortfall

The Upper Adams School District school board heard preliminary budget presentations for the fiscal year 2022-23 Tuesday. Business administrator Shelley Hobbs said there would be a shortfall of about $2.1 million that needs to be addressed. Projected estimates for the 2022-23 fiscal year show expenses of about $34 million but an estimated revenue of of less than $32 million. There are still a lot of unknowns in the new budget. State revenues are unknown and the proposed 2022-23 budget therefore does not include any increases in basic and special education or increases from payments for students enrolled at Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School. Estimated state revenues also do not include the Homestead Farmstead amount, which is not certified until May. The amount in previous years has been around $815,000. Expense challenges include contributions to charter and cyber schools as well as changes due to contract negotiations. Local tax collection revenue in 2022-23 is estimated to be shy of the expected 96.75 percent collection rate used for the 2021-22 year. “We have to close that gap somehow before we submit a budget quote; there is a lot of work to do,” said Board President Tom Wilson. “We really need better information on what the state is going to provide.” “There are still a lot of moving parts as we’re looking at budgets,” Hobbs said. For the current 2021-22 budget things are looking fine, with local, state and federal revenues anticipated to be higher than what was budgeted. “When the state budget was prepared last year it was done after the board had already approved the budget and we’re actually receiving additional funding in basic education and special education funding,” said Hobbs. Total revenue for 2021-22 will be about $32 million, including state revenue of about $13 million and local revenue of $17 million. The revenue is against about $31.5 million in expenses. Another change that improved revenues this year was the transportation subsidy. “Right now, I am seeing we have a positive variance of $565,879,” said Hobbes. Hobbs said the Adams County Tax Borough will assist in estimating projections for the new budget More updates will be presented as the board moves closer to the June for approving a final budget. The board expects to adopt and advertise the proposed final budget at its next meeting. The final approval will be June 21.

Ryan Huffman keeps the library’s computers humming

My name is Ryan Huffman, the Computer Systems Director at the Adams County Library System. While many of us can probably hazard a guess as to what that entails in a general sense, most of us have become so familiar with the devices we use every day, we don’t ever really stop to think about how those things work–but we certainly notice when they don’t. As the saying goes, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”, right? Well, there’s usually somebody behind the scenes fixing it regularly so it breaks a lot less frequently. I support devices at all 6 branches of the Adams County Library System including public access computers, circulation desk computers, printers, fax machines, telephones, scanners, tablets, laptops, projectors, etc. If it plugs into a computer or connects to the internet, I probably take care of it. There are currently over 100 desktop and laptop computers within the system that require semi-regular maintenance and updates to make sure things run smoothly. When computers are not updated, they can become slow and may start encountering problems, so updating devices before problems arise is generally a good idea. Luckily, with the right software, I can access many of those devices from right here in Gettysburg so I don’t have to spend most of my time traveling all over the county. One of the most important things I keep an eye on is the internet connections in each branch. Once a “nice to have”, readers on the younger side might find it difficult to imagine life without the internet but especially in more rural areas, reliable internet access can still be difficult to obtain at home. That’s one area where the library can be an essential technology resource to the community and because the Gettysburg branch is in a central location, it serves not only the residents in the borough but many of the small towns and villages in the surrounding area. But we don’t play favorites here at ACLS! Loss of internet can be just as inconvenient at a smaller market branch where there might not be a coffee shop down the street offering free WiFi. Even the circulation system at the library uses the internet to connect our library system to over 100 libraries all over Pennsylvania for interlibrary loans. Since I can access network devices remotely, keeping things running around the county frequently depends on a reliable connection right here in Gettysburg. So that’s what I do to keep things moving, but what do I do to keep things moving forward? To paraphrase an observation made by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, that later became known as “Moore’s Law”, the processing power in our devices doubles approximately every two years. Whether that feels like a blessing or a curse, technology keeps moving forward and we as consumers try our best to keep moving forward with it. To that end, another important part of my job is keeping up with technology trends and learning about how the library system can offer modern services to patrons without the benefit of an unlimited budget. A few years ago, a modest computer and a decent internet connection might be enough for the average user but with the new emphasis on distanced learning and remote meetings, a better network and faster computer could be required. The technological needs of a community can change over time and as a vital resource to those we serve, the library needs to keep up with those changes as much as possible.

LASD responds to high school library book challenges using newly-upgraded policy

The Littlestown Area School District is making use of its newly-revised resource materials policy (Policy 109) to consider challenges to 35 books currently in the high school library. The challenges came over the past weeks in a set of 15 books followed by another set of 20 books. District Superintendent Chris Bigger said the challenges were from Janell Ressler and that each was submitted on a separate form for the district’s consideration, as specified in Policy 109. Bigger said the policy, originally approved in 1990, was recently revised because it did not have a mechanism for challenges from the public and that the revisions took some time. “It takes time to put a quality product together, especially around an issue of constitutional rights. We’re thinking of it as a legal matter.” The updated policy specifies guidelines for the appropriateness of resources and an eleven-step process for handling complaints. Bigger said the district had created two committees, operating in parallel, which reviewed the first set of books “in a reasonable amount of time.” Each committee was made up of either a high school principal or assistant principal, along with three teachers and a parent. Five of the challenged books, “Looking for Alaska” by John Green, “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, and “Monday’s Not Coming” by Tiffany D. Jackson had already been approved by the school board as part of the current curriculum and were not reviewed. The committees evaluated the other 10 library books, “Sold” by Patricia McCormick, “Shine” by Lauren Myracle, “Stamped” by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X Kendi, “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, “The Bluest Eyes” by Toni Morrison, “Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chboski, “The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo, “ttylb” by Lauren Myracle, and “L8R G8R” by Lauren Myracle. Bigger said Ressler’s objections to the first 10 books focused mostly on obscenity and/or mature content. The committee decided that each book did not violate standards and should therefore remain on the shelves.  Ressler has appealed the decisions.  According to the policy the appeal will be reviewed by the district’s Curriculum, Co-Curriculum, and Policy Committee and then, if necessary, by the full school board. Bigger said the committee members were trained to evaluate the books objectively, using a standard established by the U.S. Supreme Court case Miller v. California. The “Miller Test” for obscenity includes the following criteria: (1) whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ appeals to ‘prurient interest’ (2) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (3) whether the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. The committee also took guidance from the American Library Association Bill of Rights. “We worked really hard to eliminate personal beliefs during the process,” said Bigger. “The policy helps the committee determine what standards to use as they read the materials.  We work hard to keep bias and personal opinions out of the process.” Bigger said the committees took into consideration both community and age-based standards. “New York City and Littlestown might have different community standards,” he said. “And there is an age-appropriateness question.  A book with mature themes might be inappropriate for elementary school but still appropriate in a high school.”  Bigger said the policy ensured students’ access to books is decided by more than one person and therefore that any decisions to remove a resource would be more likely to stand up to any potential first amendment legal challenges. Explaining the district’s decision to keep the committee members’ names anonymous, Bigger said he was concerned about potential threats if the names were made public. He said some people had expressed concern due to the sensitive nature of the decisions and said it might be more difficult to get people to participate on the committees if their names were shared. “I don’t want people to be the discussion,” he said. Ressler has filed a right to know document requesting the names of the committee members.  Bigger said he thought parents should be involved in making the decisions. “We’re not forcing these books on anyone. The community level of the family should come into play. When we have difficult decisions to make we always provide options and opportunities. Whenever you give parents choices we all can find common ground. It is when choices are removed that you end up with fewer freedoms and liberties,” said Bigger. Bigger said one potential remedy would be to require a parental permission sign off form on the books in question but that students were already reading very few books from the high school library. “In six years only 660 books have been checked out of the library,” he said. “There’s only one copy of each book.”

Behind the scenes at the Carroll Valley Library

By Sherrie DeMartino, Branch Manager of the Carroll Valley Library In the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s, the Adams County Library System was looking for a suitable location for a branch that would service the south-western section of Adams County.  Their search finally paid off and a library branch was opened in the town of Fairfield in 2003.  I became the branch manager of the Fairfield Area Library in 2004.  At the time, besides being the newest, we were the smallest “brick and mortar” branch in the system.  Technically, our smallest branch was our Bookmobile which drove all over the County visiting schools, daycares, and nursing homes, bringing the books to you.   Our little library in Fairfield was great!  We were small enough that we knew most of the patrons by name.  We had public internet computers, movies on VHS (remember those?), a nice selection of fiction and non-fiction books, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks, and music CDs.  Our patrons enjoyed the convenience of having library items sent to our branch, which was closer to where they lived and had lots of free parking.  This service was (and still is) provided by our library delivery van which now runs six days a week to every branch in the County.  A few years after we opened, my coworker, Crystal, joined the Adams County Library System, and has been doing wonderful children’s story times for us ever since.  Some of you may remember coming to those when you were little!  An added extra bonus was that we were right across the street from Ventura’s pizza! In the meantime, the Carroll Valley Borough needed to relocate their offices and police department. They wanted to build a beautiful new building that wouldn’t leak every time it rained.  They also wanted their new place to be more of a community center instead of just office buildings, so they asked our Library System if we would consider relocating to the new building.  We said yes!  So, in 2017, we packed our books, and with a lot of help from the Boy Scouts and other awesome patrons, moved a few miles up the road to our new location in the Carroll Valley Park.   We’ve been in our new library for five years already.  Time flies!  It’s a nice bright space with lovely views of the ski resort and the park.  The Borough and Police employees are great neighbors and nothing beats our view of the park in the fall – it’s absolutely gorgeous!  The park is also a great place to have outdoor programming and story times, as long as the weather cooperates!   Although our library system no longer has VHS tapes and music CDs, we now have a huge collection of DVDs (classics, new releases, and everything in between).  We have also added e-books and e-audiobooks that you can read or listen to on your electronic devices.  These became incredibly popular during the pandemic and continue to be one of our most circulated items.  We have public internet computers and offer fax, copying, and scanning services. Come and visit us and check out all that we have to offer!  We have a lot of fun programs scheduled for the summer for children, teens and tweens, and adults.  Hope to see you soon!

Bermudian third graders use their expertise to SOAR to new playground

Bermudian Springs Elementary School needs a new playground, and the third-grade “SOAR Ambassadors” have already planned what they hope to see when the project is complete. The children shared their design with the Bermudian Springs school board on Tuesday evening. In addition to designing playgrounds, the 12 members of the SOAR team are tasked with engaging in positive behavior in school (Staying safe – Owning your actions – Always being responsible – and Respecting everyone). Ethan Sentz, assistant principal of Bermudian Springs Elementary, and David Morning, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) teacher for grades 3-6, introduced the children to the board. Sentz said the SOAR students were “almost like a student council and represent our student body in a positive way.” The children are experts on fun playground equipment, so school leaders consulted them. “When we were tasked with getting a new playground, this was kind of our first go-to of the perfect people to ask since they’re the ones that use it and their ideas matter the most in this regard,” said Sentz. Morning said contributing ideas for the playground let the children apply their skills to a project. “Mr. Sentz came to me with this idea that we wanted to do something more real world, so this idea of STEAM and this idea of engineering designing, allowing the students to design, ask questions, visualize what it is they would like to do,” Morning said. “Some of our steps in our process include just this idea of a needs/want/wishes, and then after they had some needs, wants and wishes they asked some questions.” The children followed a process to arrive at their final design. “They created a vision board, which they were able to look through a lot of different playground catalogs that our vendor uses to help design his playground,” Morning said. “So it was a great opportunity for our students and we were super excited to see their excitement through this process.” The board watched a video of the children explaining the problem – students need a new playground since the large red slide is unsafe – as well as a breakdown of what they wanted and needed. Some needs included safety rails and steps, while wants included monkey bars and a rock wall. The kids added items such as a merry go round and a zipline to their wish list. In the video, the children named their project budget, the age range for the playground and the minimum number of children it needed to accommodate at any given time as factors they had to consider. The video summarized the children’s evaluations of proposed designs and changes they suggested to better match their list of desired features. According to the video, the new playground will be added this summer. “I think that opportunity for them to have authentic learning is crucial, especially at such a young age, so I want to thank their parents for their participation,” Sentz said. Some board members directed questions to the four students present at the meeting, asking what they were most looking forward to having on the playground and what they would call the new playground. Public comment One individual approached the board during the time for public comment saying he had heard that there has been “in the middle school, maybe teachers handing out LGBTQ flags.” The speaker said he heard about it secondhand and wanted to voice his concerns if the story was true. Former board member Jennifer Zerfing also addressed the board. She praised specific teachers, pointing out the skills and qualities that make them assets to the district. Zerfing also took time to recognize students. “Many of them are genuinely interested in promoting unity in our district,” Zerfing said. “They are looking around the world and deciding that they don’t want to live in a world without– that they want to live in a world without discrimination. I’d like to give a shoutout to the students who are standing up for others. It takes courage to evaluate ourselves and identify implicit biases that we might not even know that we have. These students who strive for unity and the teachers who set an example of how to treat everyone with respect and kindness give me hope for the future.” The board approved the time and date for the graduation ceremony. It will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, May 27 at the high school stadium, with a rain date of 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 28. The next regular board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 10 in the high school auditorium. Meetings are also livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

FASD still needs board member

The Fairfield Area school board still has an empty seat as no one has yet applied for the position. During the school board’s meeting on Monday evening, Superintendent Thomas Haupt suggested advertising for the opening again, with a new deadline for applications set for noon Friday, April 22. If eligible applicants submit materials by the deadline, they could be interviewed during the regular board meeting on April 25. The position was briefly held by Rich Phillip. Phillip resigned due to moving outside of the district, according to an email from Thomas Weaver, former business manager for the district. The board accepted his resignation, which was effective as of March 21, during its last regular meeting on March 28. The first time the board advertised for the position, it planned to interview candidates on April 11 and name a new board member on April 25. Other business Andrew Kuhn, district athletic director, said the district held its first signing day last week. A second signing day for about five more student athletes will be held soon, he said. The date has not yet been announced. William Mooney, district buildings and grounds supervisor, said three of the four lights in the parking lot are out but will be replaced soon. Mooney also recommended the board contract with a company to remove dead trees and trim others for safety. The board hired a full-time instructional technology assistant and a second shift custodian. Mooney has informed the board in previous meetings that he hoped to hire custodians, telling the board in October that he had fewer second-shift custodians than normal. There was no public comment. Board Vice President Jack Liller said the board held closed sessions for personnel matters on April 4 and before the meeting on Monday. Liller also announced the district received a $100 donation from the Mansion House 1757 Inn. Fairfield will hold its next regular school board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, April 25. Meetings are held in the district board room and are livestreamed through the district’s YouTube channel.

CVSD starts booster club; sends blankets to Ukraine; recognizes students

Conewago Valley School District may soon have a new booster club, according to an announcement made during the school board’s meeting on Monday evening. Doug Wherley, athletic director for the district, said some parents hope to renew the “all-sport booster club” soon and have already begun suggesting ideas. “They also want to make sure each team has the ability to raise funds individually for their individual teams, as well,” Wherley said. “We’re hoping this can help bring more community spirit as well as team pride to all of our New Oxford teams.” A student’s concerns During the time for public comment on non-agenda items, a junior at New Oxford High School expressed worry for students’ safety. The student said she felt some students exhibit dangerous behavior unchecked by school staff. “Some of the teachers and staff are continuing to act as friends instead of mentors towards the students,” the student said. The student said she wanted to see students disciplined for poor behaviors as necessary. “I graduate from this high school in 13 months and I wish for those last 13 months to be spent not in fear, but in relief– relief that the staff no longer treats students as friends but as students only,” she said. Fundraising Dr. Stephanie Corbin, director of special education for the district, said a group of students made 27 polar fleece blankets to gift to children in Ukraine. Autumn Zaminsky, principal of Conewago Township Elementary School, said the school is preparing for a Color Run on May 20. At the time of the board meeting, the school had raised nearly $14,000. Larry Sanders, principal of Conewago Valley Intermediate School, said the school has raised almost $19,000 for Mini-THON. The event has the theme, “Yes, We Ken” in honor of the late Dr. Kenneth Armacost, according to Sanders. Armacost passed away last year soon after retiring from his positions as principal of CVIS and as a girls’ volleyball coach. Mini-THON will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 6. Christopher Bowman, principal of New Oxford High School, said the school recently pulled in $24,425 during its first annual Mini-THON. Bowman said the amount was “not too shabby” for the school’s inaugural Mini-THON. Recognition Superintendent Sharon Perry said she has appreciated hearing thoughts from the student advisory committee. The committee recently held its last meeting with Perry. The superintendent said she helped the students understand the district’s feasibility study after they expressed interest in it. “That was a lot of fun to hear our next generation become interested within their school community,” Perry said. “So we may have some budding board members in our future.” Perry thanked the students for sharing their thoughts with her. The board also recognized Zaminski, who was given the H. Edgar Wisehaupt Outstanding Principal of the Year award from Penn State – Harrisburg. Adam Farmer was acknowledged as the New Oxford High School Rotary Student of the Month in March. Two athletes were also named: Ella Billman, who joined the YAIAA-2 first team in girls’ basketball, and Timberley Linebaugh, who was added to the YAIAA-2 second team. Two additional students were also honored for their recent art accomplishments in a Gettysburg Times advertisement designing competition. Sarah Beeman received first place in the contest and Alayna Diviney was given an honorable mention. Perry said the district recently honored its assistant principals but she offered her personal thanks at the meeting. “They’re often the front line with our children and our families, so it is with much gratitude and appreciation and love that I want to say, ‘Happy Assistant Principals Week’ to all of our assistant principals and those who act on behalf of an assistant principal within our district,” Perry said. Other business The board unanimously voted to stop the Conewago Valley Online Academy for grades K-8 once this school year concludes. The board also accepted a donation of $500 from Bermejo Auto Sales for the boys’ lacrosse team. Perry will hold two more coffee talks before the end of the school year. The events provide the opportunity for parents, guardians and other local residents to chat with the superintendent. The coffee talks will be held from 9-10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 28 and on Monday, May 16. Both will be held in the district board room. The board will hold its next regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 9.

HACC faculty vote for union representation

Faculty at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, have voted to affiliate with the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). The PSEA will represent full-time and adjunct faculty in collective bargaining with the College. “The faculty have made their decision, and we respect that,” said HACC President and CEO John J. “Ski” Sygielski, MBA, Ed.D. “We will work with the PSEA to reach a fair and equitable contract from both the College’s and faculty’s standpoint.”  The faculty vote was 335 “yes” and 198 “no” to affiliate with the PSEA. The results still need to be certified by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. The agreement includes the approximately 60 full-time and part-time faculty at the Gettysburg HACC campus. The campus has about 1,300 students. The union will be the sole voice for all faculty on all matters relating to wages, benefits and working conditions. Any changes to benefits or salary will be subject to the collective bargaining process.

Carroll Valley Twins Win Top Awards in the 2022 Frederick County Science and Engineering Fair

Two Carroll Valley students swept the Middle School division of the Frederick County, MD 41st Annual Secondary Science and Engineering Fair last week by combining their love of horses with their interests in engineering and veterinary medicine. Emma and Sarah Simmons, 7th grade students at Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg, MD, were named the Overall Middle School Grand Prize winners at the competition. They also won 1st place in the Middle School Biomedical Engineering category. In their engineering project, “Portable Bronchodilator Delivery System for Equine Inflammatory Respiratory Diseases,” these two 12-year-old twin sisters developed a uniquely portable method of administering life-saving medication to horses with respiratory diseases such as asthma. The Simmons girls, both of whom are avid equestrians, engineered a mechanism that dispenses bronchodilator medication while the horse is being ridden. Because the rider is not required to return to a stable and dismount before administering medication, this system has a broad range of applications, Emma and Sarah explained, including mounted law enforcement who use horses for urban crowd control, farming and ranching, and horse event competitions. In addition to the County Science Fair prizes, the Simmons students were acknowledged with several industry-sponsored awards including the Broadcom Masters top prize. This makes them eligible to compete in the national Broadcom Premier Middle School Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Competition held in Washington, DC in the fall of 2022. Nominees for this by-invitation-only competition are chosen among the top 10% of the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders nationwide. Emma and Sarah, the daughters of Dr. Jeffrey A. Simmons and Dr. Lisa S. McLeod-Simmons, both university professors, were also presented with the Hively Family Inventor Award and the Lemelson Early Inventor Prize at the Frederick County science competition. Emma, who is interested in veterinary medicine, and Sarah, who wants to follow her grandfather and uncle into an engineering field, both expressed how honored they were to receive these awards. When asked how they came up with such a unique project, Emma and Sarah explained. “We’ve been riding for about 3 years now and one of the horses we ride has asthma. The horse is named Wesley and he is a beautiful thoroughbred. When we ride him sometimes he has difficulty breathing, “ Emma said. Her sister, Sarah, continued, “Our riding coach gives Wesley steroid shots to help prevent the asthma attacks. These work, but not always very well and there are side effects. And the nebulizer requires that the horse be in the stable where there is electricity for the nebulizer pump and the horse can be kept still while he’s wearing the inhaler mask. And like most horses, Wesley does not always wait to stay still.” The girls said that when their science teacher at Mother Seton School, Danielle Kuykendall, told their science class that they would all need to develop a science project for the school Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fair, their thoughts turned to their horse. Emma said, “If we are out on a ride and the horse has an asthma attack, it’s hard to get back to the barn and it’s not always very easy or safe to just stop, get off the horse, give him a shot, and then wait 30 minutes.” Sarah noted, “We knew there had to be a better way of making sure the horse we ride is healthy and that he and we are safe when we ride.” Several months later and after some experimentation, they had developed a way to administer medication for equine asthma from the saddle and without having to take the horse back to the barn. Emma and Sarah both said that their parents were a great help and that their riding coach, Mike Hillman of Emmitsburg, and his horse Wesley were inspirations for them. They also had high praise for their science and math teachers at Mother Seton School, Danielle Kuykendall and Sharon Beard.  “It’s amazing how much the math and science we learned in school helped us,” Sarah said. “Our teachers are the absolute best in the world,” Emma added. The STEM Fair was held Saturday, April 2. More than 75 judges from the area reviewed dozens of projects entered by 86 students from 17 schools across the county. Featured image: Sarah Simmons, left, and Emma Simmons, right

Mikel Grimm will fill Hollabaugh’s term at UASD

Upper Adams School District (UASD) school board welcomed Mikel Grimm as its newest board member Tuesday. The vacancy resulted from the recent passing of board member Bruce Hollabaugh, and Grimm was chosen to complete his four-year term. The board was legally required to fill the vacancy within 30 days and interviewed seven applications. Grimm is fluent in Spanish and is committed to supporting the 30 percent of district students who are Latino. She actively works as a member of the Latino Task Force, Healthy Adams County, Adams County Food Policy Council, and Manos Unidas. Grimm is the Human Resource and Safety Manager for the Adams County Nursery. As the manager of nursery’s H-2A contract labor program, Grimm works with contracts and applications to support the migrant community. Grimm said she hopes to create a more welcoming school environment for minority students, to be an outreach for voices that do not usually get heard, and to assist underrepresented groups. “Not necessarily race, but students who tend to not fit in the box,” she said. Grimm recently worked with Penn State Extension to implement a supervisory training for agricultural supervisors in Spanish.  “Seeing those individuals finish the training and the glow in their eyes when they received their certificates is a moment I will never forget,” she said. “One individual in particular called his mother in Mexico and showed her his certificate, and with tears in his eyes told me that it was the first time in his life his mother told him she was proud of him.”  “I think that ensuring everyone has an equal chance to an education and a positive experience should be the number one priority,” she said. School Board President Tom Wilson thanked the seven applicants for their time and willingness to step up and volunteer for the district and urged all applicants, and anyone interested, to continually support the district. “It is very heartwarming to see members of the community step forward to do this. You have our collective thanks and my personal thanks,” he said.

Behind the scenes at the Harbaugh-Thomas Library

By Barbara Buckley, Branch Manager of the Harbaugh-Thomas Library The Harbaugh-Thomas Library in Biglerville has been serving Adams County since 2007. It is a lovely place to work. Bountiful windows let in the sunlight and provide a front row seat to the ever-changing panorama of weather. In my 8 years as the Branch Manager I’ve seen numerous beautiful rainbows arching beside the water tower in the distance, and it is not unusual to see teens in the courtyard around prom time having their pictures taken in formal attire in front of the rose bushes. The Harbaugh-Thomas Library is the only library in the Adams County Library System (ACLS) that was built to be a stand-alone library. While I was not involved in the creation of this library, I benefit from the work of the ACLS, Marion Harbaugh and the Harbaugh-Thomas Foundation. Sisters Marion Harbaugh and Jean Thomas, Biglerville residents and owners of the Thomas Country Store in Biglerville, generously provided funding and worked with the Harbaugh-Thomas Foundation and ACLS to create a building that can accommodate all the roles that a modern library fills. Like all the library branches in the county, the Harbaugh-Thomas Library offers storytimes, educational programs, books, movies, space for reflection and reading, excellent wi-fi, book clubs and more. There are also two meeting rooms available for scheduled use by the community. We’ve even had a few weddings here! The Teen Center is our latest addition, which has been open for a total of one year. It is a place to unwind, check out the manga and graphic novels lining the wall, use the computers, or participate in an organized library program. Lately tabletop gaming, afternoon movies and ping-pong tournaments have been popular! Our staff of four–myself, Zach, Alba and Danielle–rely on each other’s knowledge, experience, and talents to serve our patrons. While Bruce is not a direct member of the Harbaugh-Thomas staff, he is also an invaluable part of our team. If you’ve seen the ACLS van around town, you may have seen Bruce at the helm. When patrons request a book that is at one of the other 5 ACLS branches, or when Gettysburg Library staff unpack, catalog and process new books, Bruce brings these and other resources to us. Among my duties, I supervise the day to day operations of the branch and provide service at the circulation desk. I schedule others to lead programs, and I facilitate programs including a book club for adults and storytimes for kids.  I enjoy selecting young adult books for ACLS, and serving on the committee for Adams County Reads One Book. The variety of tasks keeps life interesting. I remember my first visit to the ACLS in 1998 after I moved here from Tulsa, Oklahoma. My oldest son was 3 and we were adjusting to the move. We didn’t know anyone. I went from working a full time position away from home, to being a stay at home mom on a limited budget. The library seemed like a good place to go. The children’s librarian at the Gettysburg Library, Doris, introduced herself and made a point to learn my son’s name. I remember this simple connection 25 years later! Three years after meeting Doris, she hired me for a part-time position in the children’s room, where I worked for 12 years, until managing the Littlestown Library for a year and a half, and then moving to my current position at the Harbaugh-Thomas Library.  I have a special place in my heart for the way libraries connect us to people, resources, ideas and the community at large.