We tried to get the dots to connect last night. Several of us, including a citizen (a resident of Columbia Borough (also a tax payer in the Columbia Borough School District), Cole Umber of Columbia Spy and Columbia news, views & reviews attended the Eastern Lancaster County School District Board of Directors meeting last night in New Holland.
Citizen or resident?
Item 4 of last night’s meeting agenda on allowed for Citizens’ Comments; the Columbia Borough resident was denied access to the floor by the School Board president who stated that the comments are for ELANCO district citizens (residents?) only.
The Pennsylvania Sunshine Law allows for public comment: “the board or council of a political subdivision, or of an authority created by a political subdivision shall provide a reasonable opportunity at each advertised regular meeting and advertised special meeting for residents of the political subdivision or of the authority created by a political subdivision or for taxpayers of the political subdivision or of the authority created by a political subdivision or for both, to comment on matters of concern, official action or deliberation which are or may be before the board or council prior to taking official action.”
We were informed that the ELANCO superintendent, Dr. Robert Hollister, would speak with us to provide answers to our questions following the adjournment of the meeting.
During a conversation with him following the adjournment of the meeting at 7:14 pm, the above contingent presented questions and Columbia residents’ concerns to him. He provided responses and assured us that everything will be “transparent” in the Columbia / ELANCO agreement that includes superintendent oversight with a Director of Operations managing the day to day non-academic issues at Columbia Borough School District.
The person selected from the “10 or so” applicants is Tom Strickler, long-time member and president of the Columbia Borough School District school board. Strickler “resigned at the board’s June 16 meeting” according to an LNP – Always Lancaster “Insider” article. The minutes for that meeting are not posted at the “out-of-date” Columbia Borough School District Website.
In an article in today’s LNP – Always Lancaster, Hollister is quoted:
“There was no ‘deal struck,’” Hollister said. “I would agree he had an unfair advantage because (that’s) the same as saying he had some really good knowledge about the district and community that made his application strong.”
Remember Columbia Borough School District has contracted for technological services with ELANCO; there is no mention of that at the Columbia Borough School Board Minutes for that date.
This LNP – Always Lancaster article reported: “Columbia school board on April 21 approved a $150,000 technology services contract with Elanco to provide technology personnel. The agreement will be a cost-saving measure for Columbia and a revenue source for Elanco.”
The article continues: “This is not outsourcing because we can control it,” stated Columbia Board President Tom Strickler in a phone interview. The technology director serves as a member of the district’s administrative team and participates in the monthly administrative meeting, he said.”
There is a Columbia Borough School District board meeting on Thursday night at 7:00 pm – no agenda is posted at the Website. All citizens and residents in the Columbia Borough School District should attend this meeting to get the dots connected. Hollister and Strickler will be attending the meeting, we believe.
– MORE TO COME –
What’s the plan for Columbia’s street re-paving plan for 2016?
How many of Columbia’s non-profits make “in-lieu-of” payments to the Borough for public services?
The Borough responded to our “right to know” request and provided a list of four of the up to 100 or so registered non-profits.
These four contributed a total of $12,150 in 2015.
Each year the borough office sends this “inivtation” to the registered non-profits to encourage them to consider an “in lieu of taxes” contribution.
Many non-profits across the county contend they provide significant services that benefit persons in the communities they exist. Many citizen tax payers, however, are burdened with increasing tax payments for services.
Some are struggling financially. This comes from a letter to the editor in today’s LNP – Always Lancaster: “Teachers’ starting salaries, including pension, is around $40,000. That’s almost more than what the average working person makes a year during their entire life.”
Contrast that “estimated salary” for educators and contrast it to the $94,000 plus a spate of benefits that the ELANCO board of education is paying for a Director of Operations position in Columbia.