When: School District of Lancaster school board meeting, April 7.
What happened: The board, meeting remotely for social distancing purposes, voted no on a motion to continue construction projects at Buchanan Elementary, Lincoln Middle and Reynolds Middle schools — even if the crews on site were small — due to concerns about further spread of the novel coronavirus. Member Harvey Miller was absent.
Quotable: “I would rather wait to make sure everybody is safe,” member Salina Almanzar said.
Background: In the works is a new 61,000 square-feet Buchanan Elementary School, which sits behind the current school and is expected to cost about $21.6 million. The new school was slated to open in December. All that is left of the $25.5 million Reynolds Middle School project is to complete is the 24,000-square-feet play deck that will provide a recreational area on the second level and covered parking on the ground level. Work on the play deck was scheduled to finish by August.
Boundaries: Matthew Przywara, chief of finance and operations, presented a summary report recommendation on how the district should realign its school boundaries as suggested by a task force that convened in the fall. The district should choose the option that would allow for smaller class sizes and walkability, he said. The report suggests the board decide by September as the new boundaries would roll out in the 2021-22 school year.
Dual language: The district is considering moving the program from Wharton Elementary School to a more central location and is seeking strategies to make enrollment more equitable across the district, said Assistant Superintendent Carol Powell.
Foreign exchange: School officials are mulling changes for the district’s Japanese foreign exchange program. For 26 years, 15 district students have traveled to Sano, Japan, and Japanese students have visited Lancaster. However, the program requires Lancaster city students to raise $1,500 and costs the district $31,000 a year to cover travel insurance hosting fees. School officials are thinking about adjusting the program, so that students can exchange with a Spanish-speaking country, which would cost less and increase interest in the program.
Community meeting: The board will hold a community meeting on the 2020-21 budget at 6 p.m. April 14 in Room B123 of the McCaskey East High School building, 1051 Lehigh Ave., Lancaster. The board will videoconference the meeting on a screen inside the room. If the public wants to avoid social contact, they can watch it livestreamed on the district website and submit questions in a chat box.