A town hall meeting of the Central York School District focused on technology and on the future direction of the district, moving toward a new six-year
A town hall meeting of the Central York School District focused on technology and on the future direction of the district, moving toward a new six-year comprehensive plan. (NIKELLE SNADER nsnader@yorkdispatch.com)

A town hall meeting for the Central York School District gave school officials the opportunity to project what education could look like in the district in the years to come, while also allowing for community members to voice praise and concern about the district's direction.

The district hosts two town hall meetings a year, and this meeting was to shape the conversation around the school's upcoming comprehensive plan.

Superintendent Michael Snell presented information about the rise of technology in most sectors of work, but said education has remained largely the same. Snell challenged groups at the meeting, made up of administrators, teachers and community members, to picture what education could look like in the future if schools customized learning for all students.

Snell said he does not fault the education system of the past, but he instead focused on what could happen if students were able to learn at their own pace, with a variety of platforms to do so.

Many parents agreed that teachers were still at the heart of learning, and that technology is just a tool.

During the meeting one parent, Jane Johnson, asked if the increase in technology and customization would have a cost to the district.

Johnson said after the meeting she was frustrated by the discussion of adding new technology and raising taxes without looking at the district's budget.

Some parents said they would accept an extra $60 in property taxes if it meant the school could operate without a deficit and without affecting teachers.

But Johnson said it's a larger issue than $60: The administrators should have to answer for line items and expenses.

"They need to be held accountable," Johnson said.

Julie Romig, spokeswoman for the district, said the goal of the meeting was to get diverse viewpoints from the school and community. Romig said the district is always looking for more community input, and is hopeful the talks of the upcoming comprehensive plan will encourage others to get involved.

Romig said the district is waiting on the final word from the Pennsylvania Department of Education about whether the plan needs to be for three or six years: Right now, the district believes it will be a three-year plan, but is waiting for final confirmation.

The comprehensive plan is developed by committees of faculty and staff members in the district, administrators and community members. The plans are required for each public school district and are essentially vision plans for the goals of the district and how it plans to meet the needs of its students.

Romig said when the district submitted a six-year plan to the district the last time, there were six committees with 25 to 30 people in each.

That plan will expire in June 2014, meaning the district needs to submit a new plan to the department about the direction of the school.

Romig said the district hopes it can incorporate viewpoints of all stakeholders. She would like to see senior citizens, parents and community members without children in the schools participate.

Snell said during the meeting the school district would be looking for committee members as soon as it received final word from the education department on what the plan needs to include. At that point, the district would spread the word in the community about how to get involved.

George Hatchard, a parent who attended the meeting, said the planning for the future of the district should be an equal effort between the community and the district.

"I think it's really important for the community to come on board and agree on what the path is going to be," he said.

-Reach Nikelle Snader at nsnader@yorkdispatch.com.