Northeastern OKs elementary reconfiguration

Ryan "BugMan" Bridge, left, of Mt. Wolf, guides a tarantula into the hands of Orendorf Elementary School third-grader Olivia Lizano, 8, as York Revolution takes on Long Island Ducks during Atlantic League baseball action and Baseball in Education Day at PeoplesBank Park in York City,  Wednesday, May 3, 2017. " It felt weird when it was crawling on my hand," said Lizono of the experience. The entire K-3 school spent the day at the ball park after reaching their reading goal for the school year. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Northeastern's school board voted 6-3 in May to approve a plan to redraw its elementary school attendance boundaries, despite some previous concerns.

A handful parents spoke at recent meetings objecting to the proposal. Some alleged the board's actions lacked transparency and community input. Others disagreed with the redistricting outright. 

But the proposal — first presented to the board and public at an April 23 town hall — passed at the board's meeting May 20. Cory Nade, William Gingerich and Eric Hornberger voted against the proposal in a roll call vote.

The plan would transfer groups of students in the district's Conewago and York Haven elementary schools to Orendorf and Mount Wolf elementary schools next year to prevent class sizes from pushing capacity and allow for expected growth.

Superintendent Stacey Sidle has been supportive of the chosen proposal, saying it's the best option to preserve space for growing enrollment. In meeting minutes, she added that no teaching staff would be laid off because of redistricting.

But board member K. Mike Redding said making a decision on the issue was tough, and Gingerich said he "tries to consider the 'big picture' of everything," according to meeting minutes.

Some community members have expressed concerns about longer bus commutes. David Zambito — a parent who spoke at multiple meetings — argued that the proposal gives low income students from the southwestern corner of the district the longest commute.

"There were other viable options that were presented to the Committee," he wrote in an email to The York Dispatch.

More:Northeastern students could be moved to two schools within district

More:Northeastern open to alternatives for elementary plan amid few concerns

Sidle had said she was open to any alternatives the public brought forward, but according to Brian Geller, the district's director of operations, none were presented or discussed at the May 20 meeting.

The reason the board planned to vote sooner rather than later on the proposal was to ease the transition for parents who will have to prepare for a switch before September, Sidle has said. She did not return a phone call seeking comment.

At the May 20 meeting, Nade said feedback showed his electoral district  — which represents Conewago Township — was against the proposal, so he opted to vote against it as well, Geller said.

None of the dissenting board members returned emails from The York Dispatch before deadline.

Board President Margie Walker reinforced that the district has plans in place to ensure that students being transferred will feel welcome, according to minutes.