Jackie Geyer

Jackie Geyer, 36, will fill a vacancy on the Eastern Lancaster County school board left by Rodney Jones, who resigned Aug. 1, 2019.

Improving test scores. Implementing full-day kindergarten. And separating students by biological sex in bathrooms and locker rooms.

Those three ideas aren’t typically uttered in the same breath, but they’re practically expected for a potential school board member in Eastern Lancaster County School District these days.

Jackie Geyer is quickly coming to that realization.

The Elanco school board this week approved Geyer, a 36-year-old English as a second language teacher at an elementary school outside the district, to fill a vacant school board seat left by the board’s former vice president, Rodney Jones, who resigned Aug. 1. The board is expected to formally appoint Geyer next week.

“I’m just really excited for this opportunity to help support the students and teachers in our district,” Geyer, a New Holland resident, said in a phone interview Monday.

Geyer says she’s passionate about making Elanco a competitive school district with a rigorous curriculum that prepares students for long-term success. But with those challenges comes one that’s a bit more complicated.

She’s joining the board during a tumultuous time as Elanco prepares to implement a controversial and polarizing student privacy policy this month.

The policy, critics say, discriminates against transgender students because it forces them to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their biological sex while the district adds private, single-user facilities.

Geyer, unlike Jones, supports the policy.

“Personally, I think when it comes to especially students under the age of 18, I think it’s very important to separate students based on, I hate to use the word, but biological sex,” Geyer said.

Geyer, who’s up for election in November and will likely be endorsed by the local Republican committee, added that “minors don’t always get the privileges adults get.”

Geyer, a mother of three children who should eventually attend Elanco schools, said while student privacy is important, she hopes to focus on other issues, such as instituting full-day kindergarten and improving academic performance throughout the district.

Her 12 years of teaching experience in the county should be a valuable asset, she said.

A committee made of three current school board members — Thomas Wentzel, Paul Irvin and newly appointed Vice President Dina Maio — selected Geyer over two other candidates who they interviewed publicly last week. The decision was unanimous.

Superintendent Bob Hollister in a phone interview Monday said Geyer was a “good choice,” and the board was smart to select someone who may be elected in a few months.

Geyer is running against four other Republican candidates and one Democrat for five school board seats.