Conestoga Valley school

When: School board meeting, Oct. 11, with board members Philip Benigno and Lisa Whitacre absent and Michael Talley late.

What happened: The board meeting started 20 minutes late as district leaders and police officers worked to handle a situation in which a woman, wearing a shirt that said “Socialism Distancing,” refused to wear a mask.

The situation: Compared with the September school board meetings when masks were not enforced, Conestoga Valley posted on its website that the district would require masks at this meeting. Prior to the meeting, President Todd Shertzer informed the woman she would need to wear a mask or she would be removed. The woman declined to state her name, saying she didn’t want her employer to know. Five minutes before the meeting when she still hadn’t put on a mask, Shertzer shuffled the other five board members in attendance into Superintendent Dave Zuilkoski’s office where they stayed until a police officer talked to the woman. Once she left, board members returned.

District comments: When asked Tuesday why board members left the room, spokesperson Katie Meier said, “Because the meeting could not start due to a community member refusing to wear a mask as required, the board recessed to another room (in the building) while the situation was addressed.”

Public comments: While approximately 100 residents showed up at the Sept. 20 meeting and 27 spoke out against masking, only four residents, including the one who was removed, attended this meeting. During the second time for public comment, resident Mark Gensel spoke for more than 10 minutes against masking and in favor of improved communication.

Enrollment: Chief Finance and Operations Officer Phyllis Heverly Flesher and Assistant to the Superintendent for Secondary Education Donovan Mann gave a presentation on enrollment that included projections and information about the number of students attending in-person school, Conestoga Valley Virtual Academy, cyber charter and home schools. Administrators expect overall enrollment to decrease by almost 400 students over the next five years. In terms of cyber schools, Mann said that as expected, both CVVA and cyber charter schools saw a spike in enrollment last year. However, since its inception in 2007-08, CVVA has seen a steady increase, with 99 students enrolled this year. Mann said the district will continue to find ways to market CVVA to families interested in a cyber option. The district, which has no oversight of cyber charter schools, will pay $1.06 million in tuition for cyber charter students this year.

— Anne Garber, For LNP | LancasterOnline


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