Manheim Township high school

When: Manheim Township school board meeting, Sept. 9.

What happened: About a dozen residents attended the meeting, where masks were required. Board President Nikki Rivera said there would be no discussion about masks because they are required statewide.

Fair-funding formula: Board member Joyce Stephens, who led a fair-funding committee with fellow members Janet Carroll and Curtis Holgate, recommended the board approve a resolution to urge the state General Assembly to implement an updated formula to address the “hold harmless” doctrine that prevents a district from receiving less funding than it did prior to the 2015-16 fiscal year, even if that leads to inequities resulting in continued great disparities between school districts.

Background: Manheim Township School District received approximately $6.9 million less in basic education funding in the 2020-21 school year than it would have under the full implementation of the formula.

Comment: “The reason Manheim Township is underfunded is not the same as some big city schools,” said board member Curtis Holgate. “It’s about growth. We’ve had rapid growth over the years.”

Collective bargaining agreement: Katherine Ward, director of human resources, asked the board to approve an agreement with the teachers union retroactively from July 1 to June 30, 2024, with an average salary increase of 3.02%. The breakdown would be 2.85% the first year; 3.05% the second; and 3.15% the third. Because this meeting was a work session, the board followed its usual protocol of delaying action.

Public comment: Despite the board president’s admonition, residents brought up the mask issue by criticizing teachers during citizens’ comments at the end of the meeting. Betsy Jaquith said she has heard teachers and staff being “nasty and snarky, yelling at students 10 feet from the door to put on their masks, bullying and hazing. ... People at the door have to tune it down,” she said. “You guys can and should do better,” Nick Wachinski said regarding masks, plus student trips and fair funding. “Some questions need to be asked.”

Field trips: Assistant Superintendent Dale Reimann asked the board to approve a list of overnight and out-of-state field trips for September. But there was no mention of masks.

COVID-19: Jaclyn Dudzic, health services supervisor, reported 16 positive cases in the past seven days and 34 so far this school year.

Exceptions to mask mandate: Joni Lefever, director of pupil services, said if parents ask for an exception for their students because of a physical or mental disability, those students may wear shields instead, according to federal law, allowing for accommodations to ensure academic success. “We are supporting our students,” Lefever said.

New board member: Student representative Pritesh Tanna attended his first meeting. Nyah Khan, serving her second year as student representative, was absent.

What’s next: The board will vote on requests for action Sept. 16.

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