The Spring-Ford Area School District Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Monday night to go over some committee reports and tend to regular business. Among the major discussion items were the local ice hockey team and the conclusion of board member Donna Williams' term.
In board member David Shafer's report on the extracurricular committee, discussions with the ice hockey team were deemed resolved. Shafer reported a letter was written to the team, which is not sanctioned or recognized by , clearing up four final requests the team had. Shafer and assistant superintendent Allyn Roche both agreed that the team was seeking resolution, but was denied all four items.
Roche reported the team was denied:
- Unpaid team photos in the yearbook, which would appear near the varsity sports (denied - the team can still purchase a page as they have done in the past and work with the yearbook committee to determine placement)
- Receive varsity letters (flat out denied as they are not a school-sanctioned team)
- Allow seniors to list hockey as a sport in yearbook autobiography (denied, as per tradition, only school-sponsored activities can be listed; however, they can list it in the "What are you planning for your future" category in a separate section)
- Hang posters promoting hockey events (they were told they must take the same action as all other outside organizations)
Board president Joe Ciresi contested the yearbook denials, saying "it's their yearbook, not ours. They should be able to write whatever they want outside of profanity or inappropriate content."
Ciresi went on to say that allowing the kids to list hockey in the future section is not right, because it may not be their future, but is definitely their past.
Solicitor Marc Davis pointed out that the issues Ciresi is contesting are policy issues and if changed could open Pandora's Box to a lot of community groups, such as American Legion Baseball or the Boy Scouts.
Board member Mark Dehnert said he recalls the team doing research on other districts and more than half of the districts it researched allowed the four items it was asking for. Board member Julie Mullin said she was torn on the issue, but opening the door to every other organization like them may be bad news.
Shafer concluded that the discussion has been closed and that's what he is reporting to the board. The committee has reviewed this issue at great length and taken much time on it.
"Dealing with the club has been nothing but fantastic," he said. "But, the polices are in place for good reason. We can debate this in the future, but given the current policies, we made a decision."
Board member Bernie Pettit recommended bringing the issue to the policy committee. Davis reminded the board that Title IX compliance might play into all of this. It was noted that the ice hockey team has had girls on the team in the past.
Board member Donna Williams recommended the board members obtain copies of the yearbook before passing judgment.
Shafer also reported Ram Nation is now on the district's website.
On a lighter note, Williams attended her final meeting as a Spring-Ford school board member. She was given the opportunity to speak to the board after being presented a gift from the board. There was also cake in her honor. Her speech went as follows:
"I would like to say thank you to the board for this beautiful gift. I would like to thank all of the board members that are seated at this table for their service. I think that our nation is certainly at a time where public service is not held at a high esteem and it should be. These people have left their families, their loved ones, perhaps their jobs to be here this evening. It really sounds tacky to keep saying this, but I think it's because we value people by what we pay them. This job pays absolutely nothing and everyone seated here chose to be here to spend the time to be caring about our kids.
"Spring-Ford is all about kids. I have been very humbled and very blessed to serve with many board members - too many to count. No matter what, I think the common core is that we are about kids. Sometimes it doesn't seem that way, but it truly is. I've been very humbled to serve during my tenure with many administrators, my own children's teachers, a dedicated and caring staff - from the support staff to the professional staff to the leadership team to superintendents. Again, I thank the public for allowing me the pleasure of 16 years of pure joy.
"Did I have angst? Yes. We all have angst when you do this job. I remember particularly when we borrowed the money to build this original building - $29 million. It doesn't sound like much, but it was an awful lot back then. That was a huge amount. I didn't sleep for two nights, but I knew that it was something we needed to do, it got done and it's beautiful. I guess we forget that the whole world isn't like us.
"I'm going to challenge the board to continue to raise the bar on education at Spring-Ford. Even the naysayers realize we're in a global economy. We need competent, skilled students to go out and take their place in the world. So, I challenge those who remain behind me to do that, to continue to raise the bar, because it's just so very easy to forget that the whole world is not like Spring-Ford."
Williams also thanked administrators, contractors and advisors that the district employs. She will be replaced by Dawn Heine, who will take her seat on the board in January.
Shafer paid homage to Williams by calculating approximately 1,800 hours of public service in her 16-year tenure (that only includes committee and public meetings).