The Elizabethtown school board has appointed Richard Toth, human resources director for the Elizabethtown Area School District, to serve as the district’s new school safety and security coordinator.
The appointment, voted on at the Tuesday, Aug. 28, school board meeting, was done to satisfy requirements of Pennsylvania Act 44, legislation on school safety and security that was signed into law in June. The law requires that school districts appoint these coordinators by Aug. 31.
School safety was also the topic of an executive session held before the meeting. Another recent state law allows school boards to discuss safety and security measures during executive sessions, which are not open to the public.
At the end of the public meeting, board President Terry Seiders announced that the executive session was attended by the district’s school resource officer, Officer Richard Regel of Elizabethtown Borough Police, and Garret Rain, a retired Pennsylvania State Police captain who now runs Rain Public Planning. The firm offers safety consulting and instruction services. Rain also serves as pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Elizabethtown.
Seiders said the board intends to vote at the next meeting, set for Tuesday, Sept. 11, on a contract with Rain to work on Act 44 planning and look at safety and security in the district’s buildings.
“We’re very fortunate that Mr. Rain lives within our community and is willing to do this for our district,” Seiders said. “His expertise – highly regarded within the state.”
The board also recognized 20 senior citizens who volunteer with the district’s SERVES (Seniors Earning Rebates Volunteering in Elizabethtown Schools) program. Participants who volunteer for at least 77 hours earn a $550 voucher that can be applied to the following year’s school taxes.
Business manager George Longridge said the program, one of the first in Lancaster County, started in 1995 with 24 volunteers serving more than 1,800 hours and earning $8,675 in tax credits. During the 2017-18 school year, 62 volunteers and nine stand-ins earned $33,567 in tax credits.
Volunteer retirees, age 62 and older, must be district residents and tax-paying property owners. Volunteers must also complete required background checks; Longridge said that only one had to go through that process this year, as many already volunteer with civic organizations and churches. “These are the pillars of the community that are volunteering in our schools,” Longridge said.
Volunteers can also be stand-ins for disabled residents 55 and older who are unable to volunteer.
In addition to tax credits, seniors can see firsthand what is happening in the schools while students benefit from the seniors’ life experience, wisdom and talent, Longridge said.
As he was receiving his certificate and pin from Seiders and Superintendent Michele Balliet, volunteer Bill Tooms turned to the board and described the program as a “wonderful experience. I wouldn’t trade anything for it, working with kindergarten kids.”
The board also heard Balliet discuss the start of the school year. As of Tuesday, Aug. 28, the district had 3,902 students: 1,257 at the high school, 634 at the middle school,
973 at Bear Creek, 232 at Rheems Elementary, 194 at Mill Road Elementary, 409 at East High Elementary and 203 at the newly reopened Bainbridge Elementary.
In other business, the board approved bus drivers and routes for this school year. It also approved a $15,000 contract with the IU-13 Lancaster- Lebanon Virtual Solutions Advisor Services for the district’s in-house cyber school program. Last year the program served about 100 students, both full- and part-time, district spokesman Troy Portser said.
A fee proposal from the district’s architect for design services for the future Rheems Elementary renovation, discussed at the Aug. 14 workshop, was also approved. Based on its work on Bainbridge Elementary, Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates will reduce its fee from 6.5 percent of construction costs to 5.5 percent.