The GASD school board took a small step toward board review of library book purchases at the April 17 meeting. Board member Michele Smyers questioned a routine notification of book purchases for the library and suggested that board members should review such purchases before they are approved. She stated she had reviewed the proposed purchase and found two books of concern. “They aren’t horrible,” she said, “but they might make some parents uncomfortable.”
Board member Al Moyers spoke up in support. “I think it’s only fair that we review library books before they’re purchased. I think we should do our due diligence.” This appeared to suggest at least some board members wish to go beyond the recently adopted policy, which left in the hands of the staff the development of a parental opt-out policy. The staff commented that these books had already been purchased and the proposal will be taken up by the Policy Committee.
School board members received a budget update showing that the previous estimate of a $5 million operating deficit had narrowed to approximately $1M, with uncertainty remaining about how much funding will be received from the state and about final property assessment numbers. Federal funding is down by 3%. The proposed budget is scheduled for approval at the May 1 board meeting, followed by a May 15 hearing and final approval in early June.
Board member Michael Dickerson requested that the staff prepare a zero percent increase budget alternative for the next meeting “to show what cuts would need to be made.”
In other business, the board approved purchase of a new reading program, “Amplify,” for grades K-8 and approved the sale of a lot on Hunterstown Rd. to the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Habitat will work with ACTI to build a Habitat home on the property, with the majority of the work provided by ACTI students.
Leon Reed, freelance reporter, is a former US Senate staff member, defense consultant, and history teacher. He is a seven year resident of Gettysburg, where he writes military history and explores the park and the Adams County countryside. He is the publisher at Little Falls Books, chaired the Adams County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee and is on the board of SCCAP and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. He and his wife, Lois, have 3 children, 3 cats, and 5 grandchildren.