A number of people from the Gettysburg Area School District community spoke passionately about various topics including mask requirements, health regulations, curriculum, teachers, and perceived racism within the district during the public comment period at Monday’s board meeting.
The meeting was recorded and is available for viewing here.
Board members do not respond to individual statements from the public at board meetings, but Monday’s comments, which in some cases were vociferous and acrimonious, prompted the board members to respond more generally.
Board President Kenneth Hassinger said it was “courteous” to address concerns to the school administration before coming to a board meeting. “Everyone has the opportunity and right to email the board. But if it’s related to a particular building, for instance a teacher, dress code, or lunchroom seating, please contact the administrators in the building first,” said Hassinger in a phone call after the meeting.
“The board comes into play when you look at policy, curriculum, and budget. Outside of that we’ve hired some outstanding administrators who can answer those questions,” he said.
Saying the they received many messages, board member Kathleen Adams Pratt said all emails sent to the board were read by the board members and would be responded to by the president or vice president.
Hassinger also said he did not approve of discussion of school events on social media. “Playing our differences out on social media is generally not a very successful venture,” he said.
Speaking in a phone call after the meeting Hassinger said a lot of what is on social media is not accurate information. “If people took the time to get an answer from the district first then things would be more accurate. I can’t control what’s printed in the newspaper or what’s commented about.”
Encouraging people to work toward common goals, Hassinger said he wanted to maintain a focus on community, staff, and kids. “We’re all going to disagree but when it breaks down to name calling and allegations then it becomes a roadblock towards success. We’re so divided but really we’re not divided. Politics should be left at the door when you come into the school board.”
Following the public commentary, board member Sylvan Hershey asked whether school staff was receiving training in dealing with potential issues that might occur during sporting events.
High School Principal Jeremy Lusk said he was a bit anxious as multiple construction crews worked furiously to finish updates to the kitchen and other parts of the building before the August 23 opening date.
“We’ll be ready to start school. It will be cleaned and ready but it won’t be perfect,” he said. Lusk said the construction process would continue throughout the school year.
“This is an investment for our students and our community. In the end it will be fabulous. We’re looking forward to seeing the students coming back,” said Perrin. “We’ll have plenty of bathrooms to use.”
In a statement read aloud at the beginning of the meeting, Superintendent Perrin said there had been no changes to the district curriculum. “Our teachers are responsible for and committed to teaching the district curriculum as well as building positive relationships with students.”