By NICOLE E. MATTHEWS
Special to the Advocate
The Donegal school board has voted to end a more than 50-year agreement with Marietta Borough to have the school district take care of mowing Marietta War Memorial Park.
The agreement was made in 1967. Superintendent J. Michael Lausch said at the school board meeting on Thursday, March 14, that the school district has not used the park at 344 E. Walnut St. regularly since it was used for junior varsity baseball in the early 2000s.
School board President Oliver Overlander said the district contacted Marietta Borough officials to meet about the agreement, but received no response.
Lausch said the district has spent “well over $200,000” in hours and fuel costs associated with mowing the park.
Now that the motion passed, it will be turned over to the district’s solicitor, who will take it to Marietta’s solicitor to discuss a resolution, Lausch said in an interview.
In other news, it was announced the district renewed its agreement with East Donegal Township for the use R & J Field
for the varsity baseball team.
During the off season, the district agreed to drag the field once a month to prevent weed growth, Lausch said.
He said East Donegal agreed not to rent out the field for tournament play.
Also, the district and booster clubs agreed not to do field maintenance without East Donegal’s approval, according to Lausch.
“It was an easy agreement to work through. It really was a pleasant experience,” Lausch said.
Also at the meeting, Laush discussed an idea he had to keep down costs for cyber charter schools.
“The cyber charter tuition that we pay for students attending private, outside cyber charters in this district is high. To bluntly put it – ridiculous. It’s well over a million dollars that we send out annually for students who attend these cyber charters,” Lausch said.
Donegal has its own virtual school platform that it uses through the Lancaster- Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 called Virtual Solutions. The cost for a full-time Virtual Solutions student is about $4,500 per year. That includes a laptop, tech support, teacher support and classes, Lausch said.
He said students who attend Virtual Solutions earn a Donegal diploma, and they are able to attend prom and graduation. The cost at an outside charter is about $7,000 higher for the same services Donegal provides at its cyber school, more if the student has special educational needs, roughly $26,500, Lausch said.
Lausch proposed, and the board approved, a new position, Supervisor of Personalized Learning, for the year 2020-21.
“This individual would oversee all of our current Virtual Solution students, which is about 36, 37 at this time, but has been increasing. In addition to supervising those people, they will serve as the gatekeeper for students who may be considering going to outside cybers and build relationships with those families to try to keep them here to avoid spending an additional $7,000 per student, should they go to an outside cyber charter,” Lausch said. This person would also contact the 90 students and their families who are in outside cyber charters to talk to them about the benefits of Virtual Solutions and receiving a Donegal diploma.
The next meeting of the Donegal School Board of Directors will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, at 1055 Koser Road, Mount Joy.
Also, the meeting dates for May and June have been changed. The May meeting will be held on Thursday, May 16, and the June meeting will be held on Thursday, June 20.