Conewago Valley discusses renovations, school safety updates

The Conewago Valley school board received an update on its renovations and additions project during the board’s meeting on Monday evening.

Superintendent Sharon Perry said she has communicated with Crabtree, Rorhbaugh & Associates, an architectural design firm, about the current status of the designs. While the board has plans to work on other buildings in the future, the current focus is Conewago Township Elementary and New Oxford Elementary schools.

“What I’m most pleased about is that we are within the parameters that the board set forth in the spring, so that’s the goal,” Perry said. “My job is to ensure that we’re staying within those parameters.”

Perry said the work would involve three stages, including the schematic design, scheduled to last through October. The design development will run from November through January. The final phase will begin in January.

“And then January through May, that’s the heavy lifting where all of the construction documents are put in place so that we’re able to go out to bid as early as possible – late spring, early summer,” Perry said.

The actual renovations and additions will begin at the elementary schools by late summer or early fall 2024, with work taking about 12-18 months, according to Perry.

As more updates become available, Perry said she would share them with the school board and the public.

Although there were no speakers signed up for either public comment period of the evening, board president Edward Groft took a moment near the beginning of the meeting to review the ground rules for public comment.

Groft reminded the public that they will be held to a three-minute maximum time allowance when speaking, adding that a timer will be used to mark the end of their period. He also asked that members of the public address the board president or vice president, adding that the board may not respond to comments immediately. Groft promised that the district superintendent would respond to individuals later if needed.

School safety and security

Matthew Muller, the district’s director of safety and communications, said each classroom has held a safety inventory to look at basic safety items and that the district is addressing any needs.

Muller said he is focused on several other issues in the district, including optimizing bus and radio communications and ensuring district signs are clear and accurate. Some items on his list were highlighted through the Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Team (RVAT) study conducted by the Pennsylvania State Police, according to Muller.

Muller said the district holds a safety task force meeting each month. A subcommittee of that group is working on updating the emergency manual for the district.

The safety director also addressed the topic of one of the district’s most recent hires, a school security officer approved later in the meeting. The officer, Dwayne Smith, was selected with the input of several other individuals, Muller said.

“I guess I’m most proud of the type of committee we had selected around this table to interview those people,” Muller said. “That was impressive. That was intentional. It was a wide group of stakeholders that went into that – everyone from teachers, administrators, board, central administrators, psychologists, and counselors. That was a pretty powerful group and we also had some leadership in local law enforcement sitting on that as well.”

Smith will begin work on Oct. 23.

Perry said safety is a focus across a broader area than just Conewago Valley.

Perry serves on the professional learning committee of the Superintendent Advisory Council for York, Adams, and Franklin counties. The council has turned extra attention to safety and security this year.

“I’m pleased to be able to work collaboratively with those leaders,” Perry said. “(In) November, Mr. Muller, Dr. Sterner, and myself will be attending an all-day training and, you know, these are requirements that we’ve committed to for this entire school year, to focus all of our professional learning as superintendents across that footprint to focus on school safety and security. It all is coming together. It is intertwined, and so I’m excited to be able to bring that information back.”

Recognition

Doug Wherley, athletic director for the district, and the board recognized a long list of students for various athletic achievements.

The girls’ tennis team has performed exceptionally well, maintaining a winning streak through the regular season and earning a Division One title.

Among other achievements, students Anya Rosenbach and Allison Horick won the York-Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association (YAIAA) AAA girls tennis doubles championship for the second year in a row, according to the YAIAA website.

“So quite the turnout there by our girls,” Wherley said. “We’re looking forward to their season continuing.”

Horick was also named the New Oxford High School Rotary Student of the Month for September, according to the board agenda.

Harvin Flowers, Brennan Holmes, and Kelbie Linebaugh were all nominated for the Gettysburg Times Area Player of the Week for Sept. 19, Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, respectively.

Homes was also nominated along with fellow student Idriz Ahmetovic for the Pennsylvania High School Player of the Week for Sept. 21-23.

Wherley himself also took home a recent honor, according to Christopher Bowman, principal of New Oxford High School.

Bowman told the board that Wherley was named the Athletic Director of the Year for the YAIAA.

Multiple students were also noted for academic achievements, including a list of college acceptances and awarded scholarships.

Blaine Paris and Jessica Pfisterer were listed as Commended Students by the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program, according to the board agenda.

Joshua Schaffer, principal of New Oxford Middle School, also noted that Derek Starner, an 8th-grade learning support teacher at Schaffer’s school, was recently named the Conewago Valley Educator of the Year by the Hanover Chamber of Commerce.

According to Groft, the board held an executive session before the open meeting.

The board will hold its next study session at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6.

The next Conewago Valley regular board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13.

Both meetings will be held in the district board room. Regular meetings are also livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

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Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.

You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.

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