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Millersville University Matthew J.

Monahan
EDLD 614: School and Community Relations October 13, 2015

CULTURAL SCAN: RED LION AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT

Rationale

This fall marks the beginning of my third year as a teacher in, and resident of, York County
Pennsylvania. My wife is from York County and I have been visiting the area for over a decade.
Generally, people speak most highly of three county school districts: Central York, Dallastown, and York
Suburban. Conversely, the Red Lion Area School District has a negative reputation. Since I am not
native to York County my negative impression of Red Lion is based almost exclusively on loose
anecdotal evidence from conversations. I have decided to explore the Red Lion Area School District
myself in order to help form my own opinion of the district.

Mission and Vision


Mission Statement

The mission of the Red Lion Area School District, in partnership with our communities, is to prepare all
students to reach their greatest potential, thus becoming responsible and productive citizens.

Vision Statement
Our vision is for all students and staff to continually learn and grow together.
We visualize a community in which learning never ceases.
Ongoing education is necessary to provide the knowledge and skills required to live
in a collaborative Digital Age. The Vision of the Red Lion Area School District is:
We are lifelong learners.

Demographic Information
http://www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/PA/York-County/Red-Lion-Area-School-District-
Demographics.html

During EDLD 620 I had the opportunity to learn by filling out a School District Profile on the
district in which I am employed: Central York School District. Demographic information is easily
accessible via the school website, making this task informative and relatively quick. Demographic
information for the Red Lion Area School District was more difficult to obtain via the web. Locating the
correct district webpage through a Google search was more difficult than I had expected, and finding
reliable demographic information through the district website was frustrating. This seems illuminating as
a microcosm of Red Lions negative reputation. If I, as an educator and motivated graduate student,
cannot easily locate information comprising the school district profile, how frustrating might it be for
others without my background? In addition, the information in the School Performance Profile are
inconsistent with the numbers for the District Comprehensive Plan.

School District Profile (Format from EDLD 620)


http://paschoolperformance.org/Profile/379

School District Information:

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School District: Red Lion Area School District
School District Enrollment: 5,405
Locale Type: Rural
Median Household Income: $59,958
Adults with at least a Bachelors Degree: 35%

District Finances:
Revenue:
Operating Revenue: $/student
Local: $52,183,965
State: $26,847,718
Federal: $836,184

Expenditures:
Instruction: $47,663,625 ($8,143.36/ student)
Support Services: $20,330,681
Non-Instructional: $739,729

Student Demographics:
Special Education: 14.6%
Economically Disadvantaged: 32.72%
Limited English Proficient: 0.56%
High School Dropout Rate: 0.41%
Attendance Rate: 93.98%

Student Achievement:
Keystone Academic Achievement (Math/Algebra): 77.43%
Keystone Academic Achievement (Reading/Literature): 77.85%
Keystone Academic Achievement (Science/ Biology): 54.69%
SAT Combined Score: (Math) 521.76 (Reading) 485.88 (Writing) 459.03

Red Lion Area School District District Level Plan


http://www.rlasd.net/files/_iFAzF_/c520065d2405418a3745a49013852ec4/Red-Lion-Area-SD_Total-
Plan-Output_Final.pdf

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Economic Factors Shaping the Local Community

The Red Lion Area School District faces economic struggles common in rural school districts.
While the district encompasses a vast amount of land (141 square miles), it only benefits from limited
industry. Much of this land is designated for agriculture and residential use. A small downtown area
hosts several small businesses. In comparison, neighboring districts like York Suburban and Central
York are home to much more industry and retail, increasing revenue. District-wide over of all students
are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Noteworthy are the elementary schools of Mazie Gable and
Windsor Manor at which the percentages of students eligible for free and reduced lunch are nearly 54%
and 38% respectively. The rural community with strong ties to agriculture, and the relatively high
number of students eligible for free or reduced lunch, may give some insight into the school community.
While I have no evidence to support any assumptions, it is possible to hypothesize that formal schooling
may rank lower on the collective hierarchy of needs in Red Lion than in some neighboring districts.
Roughly 65% of the district population has attained an education level less than a Bachelors Degree, and
nearly 30% of families struggle with economic situations that warrant free or reduced lunch. It was clear
at the School Board meeting that I attended that vital stakeholders care deeply about the education of
students. Given the economic factors in Red Lion it is fair to wonder (and probably very difficult to
prove) if formal schooling is valued by residents at levels comparable to neighboring school districts.

External Agencies to Support Educational Mission

Red Lion Area School District- Educational Partnerships


http://www.rlasd.net/pages/Red_Lion_ASD/Links_for/Educatioal_Partnerships

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Within the above educational partnerships, the central stakeholders are the students of Red Lion
Area School District. These partnerships run the gamut from resources for students who have not
exhibited success in traditional school settings to higher education opportunities for students who wish to
challenge themselves academically. Parents/guardians are also crucial stakeholders in these educational
partnerships because the needs of their children are met by these agencies in ways not possible for the
local district. Educators are key stakeholders in these partnerships as well. In some cases, like the HACC
College in the Classroom program, teachers serve as adjunct professors at the community college level to
high school students at Red Lion. On the other hand, students who have not performed with success in
traditional classrooms have their needs met in alternate settings, improving the classroom and school
environment for all learners. This improved environment helps teachers to facilitate learning more
effectively.

School Board Meeting


September 17, 2015

A large crowd gathered at the educational center prior to the meeting. I asked someone if this is
typical, to which this person responded, No, the teachers want a contract!
I am asked, Are you a teacher?
yes
In Red Lion?
No
Do you live in the district?
No
At this point, Im fairly certain that people think Im a reporter because of my notepad.
Two presentations:
o 2016-2017 budget
! This is why so many teachers are in attendance
! RLASD proposal: 1% tax increase ($38/ $150,000 home value), -5 positions
through attrition
! Fact Finder (from state): 2.5% tax increase ($88/ $150,000 home value), -17
positions through attrition and program cuts
! Fact Finder proposal rejected by board members 6-0 (Quorum), several
commented, Were close.
! Spoke with some teachers after meeting who had hoped that tonight would be the
night they had their labor agreement settled since board had previously rejected this
plan. They hoped that the board had rejected it the first time for show but would
accept it tonight.
o Superintendent Update
! Physical Education award from state
! Senior Class fundraiser
! Pleasant Valley Elementary School Principal presentation
Kindergarten student with cancer at Hershey Medical
Participates in classes via skype!
At first it was supposed to be a class visit, but has turned into regular
participation. POWER OF TECHNOLOGY!
Public Comment
o Citizen asked if RLASD has considered leasing landholdings to solar companies to
raise revenue in light of budget situation. Superintendent addressed question directly.
Not to solar, but discussion to lease for other non-agricultural uses.
Closing

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o School Board President acknowledged the large number of teachers present. Assured
teachers that they are appreciated and that her children, who are students in the district,
are very complimentary of their teachers. Echoed the words of other board members
regarding budget, Were close.

This was the first school board meeting of any district that I have attended in years. I believe that
the last meeting that I attended was when the Board of my former employer granted my tenure. This
meeting provided important insight into the professional educational community in Red Lion. Teachers
anxiously awaited a Board vote that would ultimately decide whether the contract negotiations would be
finalized between the Board and their association. There was a sense of pride among all stakeholders in
attendance, particularly surrounding the young boy who had been attending classes via Skype from
Hershey Medical. However, the tension in the room between the School Board members and teachers
was palpable. Board members seemed reluctant to vote no regarding the Fact Finder report, but all did
so. The meeting was civil, but the teachers were certainly disappointed with the unanimous decision by
the board to reject the Fact Finder option. Although disconnected from the situation, my experience as a
teacher who has been through two lengthy contract negotiations inclines my bias toward the teachers. It
would seem very difficult to sit through a meeting like this if I were a School Board member, and I would
not enjoy that role on this night. My hope is that all parties are truly motivated by the best interests of
students.

Red Lion Area School District


gemeinschaft/ gesellschaft framework

Sergiovannis argument is reliant on differing concepts from the field of sociology: gesellschaft
and gemeinschaft. In the gesellschaft people relate to each other to reach some goal or gain some benefit.
This is most appropriate in a business model. In the gemeinschaft concept people choose to work with
each other freely. There is a shift from a focus on things to a focus on people.1 Because schools are not
businesses the gemeinschaft approach is more apt to help schools become places of inquiry and moral
communities.
In my estimation the Red Lion Area School District is working hard toward developing a sense of
community rooted in a gemeinschaft philosophy of people collaborating to provide quality learning
opportunity for students. The existing educational partnerships, sentiments by those present at the school
board meeting, and steps in place within the districts 2013-2016 plan reflect a philosophy of self-
awareness and integrative thinking.
The Red Lion Area School District faces important challenges, however. Like many school
districts, Red Lion struggles with ensuring that teachers are delivering the curriculum with fidelity and
that students, who are collectively lagging in key academic areas, will improve. These challenges,
combined with a potential ceiling imposed by economic struggles, make the implementation of
gemeinschaft community concepts difficult. The community is quite racially homogeneous and many
residents feel strongly attached to the physical land through agriculture and land ownership. Perhaps
some stakeholders may feel disconnected from the importance that a well-rounded educational
community rooted in gemeinschaft philosophy can offer.


1
Steve Denning, The Single Best Idea for Reforming K-12 Education, forbes.com, September 9, 2014
http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/09/01/the-single-best-idea-for-reforming-k-12-education/