The Lancaster School District is looking to kick-start a five-year facilities plan that could include big projects like a turf field for soccer, lacrosse and the district’s marching band – as well as extending the fieldhouse.
Superintendent Michael J. Vallely announced that the district has identified the projects as candidates to be funded with the help of the Lancaster Educational and Alumni Foundation.
In addition to the talk of capital improvement, the meeting also featured criticism of the district’s more-restrictive public speaking policy that took effect Monday, along with a back-and-forth exchange between a middle school parent and Vallely over a suspended virtual world social studies program that involved a naked persona called an avatar, which a few students saw recently.
The facilities project – outlined in six renderings prepared by Young & Wright Architects – depicts a Lancaster Fields master plan and displayed at the board meeting for the first time.
The five-year site plan for the Len Jankiewicz Athletic Complex calls for a turf field with lights, bleachers and expanded parking, as well as an enlarged fieldhouse with storage, bleachers and concessions. Additionally, a gathering point, new team locker rooms and defined entry points with gateways to fields and the athletic complex were identified on the drawings.
No cost estimates were mentioned. District officials, meeting in executive session later, were unavailable to elaborate on the plans.
But Vallely said during the meeting that the district has been looking to develop some “big projects” for the foundation to help out with.
“This has been our goal,” he said, noting that he hopes to get the effort under way in the next few years.
Vallely suggested securing 80 percent of the project’s cost in state aid, with the foundation obtaining 20 percent in financial support for the rest of the cost, with “no tax increase.”
“This approach has been successful in many areas around the country,” Vallely said.
The 3-year-old educational and alumni foundation is relatively new and has been asking the district for “big ideas,” school officials said. The foundation is headed by recently retired Superintendent Ed Myszka.
Middle School parent Mary Dettelis, who circulated a widely read email last month about the “Lancaster Island” middle school social studies virtual world computer program, scolded the School Board for not responding to her emails. She also singled out Vallely for not returning her phone call. She also held up a picture of the naked female avatar for board and public inspection.
“This avatar has breasts, nipples and female genatalia,” Dettelis said. “I can’t see how this is appropriate for 12- and 13-year-olds. Parents have a right to know the truth and what children are exposed to in software.”
The district defended its handling of the matter, as it did a month ago, noting that the program was suspended until problems are worked out. Vallely said he would meet with Dettelis when he had all the answers she was seeking.