Board mum on work session format

MONICA PRYTS | Allied News Staff WriterGrove City school board members held their monthly voting meeting on Monday. Pictured from left are Assistant Superintendent Dr. Joshua Weaver, Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Finch, President Lee McCracken, solicitor Andrew Evankovich, Business Manager Kim Buchanan, Douglas Gerwick, Vice President Ryan Thomas, Patty Wilson and Ray Abplanalp. Not pictured are board members Heather Baker, J. Scott Somora, Dr. Armando Sciullo and Dr. Constance Nichols.

There was no discussion at Monday’s Grove City school board meeting about whether there will be changes to the work session format.

Grove City resident Esther Falcetta spoke during public comment at the beginning of the meeting, asking if the board would be discussing concerns of the press and public about perceived Sunshine Act violations made during the Jan. 6 work session.

She also asked if the board would discuss the work session format.

Board President Lee McCracken thanked Falcetta for her comments, and moved on to the next agenda item.

Board members later approved meeting dates for this year, including committee meetings held at the beginning of each work session.

Falcetta told the board that she believed they would be violating the Sunshine Act if they hold multiple committee meetings at the same time – that’s the format that was followed last week.

After Monday’s meeting, McCracken – a new board member who was named president in December – said that if someone wants to listen to one specific committee meeting, that can be arranged.

During the Jan. 6 work session, meeting attendees had trouble following along because three committee meetings were happening at once in the board room.

Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel with the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, told Allied News that that format excluded the public and posed a potential violation of the state’s Open Meetings law, also known as the Sunshine Law.

McCracken also said on Monday that he believes the board is following the Sunshine Act.

“We’re not trying to hide anything,” he said.

The board may have to discuss the issue further at the next work session, which will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 3, he said.

The board will also continue to focus on its main goals of improving educational programming for students, and being transparent and fiscally responsible, McCracken said.

In other business at Monday’s meeting, board members:

• Set meeting dates for the remainder of 2020. All meetings are held in the board conference room at the district’s main office.

Work sessions plus committee meetings will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 3, March 2, April 6, May 4, June 1, Aug. 3, Sept. 9, Oct. 5 and Nov. 2.

Voting meetings will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 10, March 9, April 15, May 11, June 8, Aug. 10, Sept. 14, Oct. 12 and Nov. 9.

The dates for the July work session and voting meeting have yet to be determined. The annual reorganization and voting meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 2.

• Noted that a public hearing will be scheduled to discuss the closure of Highland Primary Center.

• Approved these name changes for the school buildings at George Junior Republic, effective for the 2020-21 school year: George Junior Republic Elementary will be called Grove City Area George Junior Elementary School; George Junior Republic Middle School will be called Grove City Area George Junior Middle School; and George Junior Republic High School will be called Grove City Area George Junior High School.

• Agreed to formally change the name of Hillview Intermediate Center to Hillview Elementary School, effective for the 2020-21 school year.

• Agreed to move move Highland students to the Hillview building at the beginning of the next school year.

• Noted that there will be more information in February about the Grove City YMCA’s interest in buying the Highland building.

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