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Chester County Press

Avon Grove School Board agrees that a health center is not a part of new school plans

11/05/2019 01:44PM ● By Steven Hoffman

The Avon Grove School Board has agreed—unanimously—to eliminate any additional discussions about including a community health center as a part of the facilities projects that the district is currently undertaking.

The community health center, which was included in early discussions about what would be a part of the new high school project, has been a source of conflict among school board members, with some suggesting that the health center illustrates how extravagant the plans for the new school are.

Other school board members maintain that, while the health center was at one time considered for inclusion in the project, it was already dropped from plans because of cost projections.

Early in the Oct. 24 meeting, school board member John Auerbach made a motion to add a resolution about the issue to the agenda. Auerbach said that he wanted to ensure that there is no opening for a community health center as part of any project in the foreseeable future, a sentiment that was echoed by school board member Rick Dumont. Auerbach explained that if the school board approved a resolution about the community health center, it would put the issue to rest.

Since the health center is not really expected to be a part of the plans, there wasn’t a lot of pushback from the school board members. However, there were questions about what, exactly, the motion was trying to accomplish. Noting that the health center is not in the scope of the current project, Bill Wood asked whether Auerbach intended his motion to mean that there would be no health center in the new high school, or no health center on school property, ever.

“I’m a big supporter of the community health center,” Wood said, explaining that while the district might not be able to do it now, a community health center could serve as a source of revenue at some point in the future.

Wood suggested an amendment to the resolution that would clarify that it pertains only to facilities plans that are currently being worked on.

Auerbach was agreeable to the amendment, and everybody else was fine with taking a vote on the issue because the community health center is not part of the plans anyway.

School board member Herman Engel said that he thought it was already understood that the community health center was not a part of the designs.

School board member Jeff Billig said, “This is not something that I supported. I have been clear on that. I think we have bigger needs.”

When the vote was taken, the board unanimously approved the motion. This drew laughter and even a few claps because it’s a rare occurrence for this school board to vote 9-0 on any issue.

In other business:

Avon Grove superintendent Dr. Christopher Marchese reported that the school district’s enrollment stands at 5,059 students.

Marchese also reported that 107 senior citizens are now taking part in the senior citizen volunteer tax relief program. Participants receive a $10 per hour credit for up to 50 hours of volunteer service in the school district’s buildings. Information about how to enroll in the program  is available on the school district website.

During the public comment session, Lisa Lightner expressed her concerns that some school board members have public government official websites, and are actively deleting or hiding comments from people who do not agree with them on issues. Lightner referenced a court ruling earlier this year that the U.S. President can’t block followers on Social Media if they have a public account—if the website is public, it has to be open to all.

“You cannot and should not be a school director for just some of the people in the community,” Lightner said.

The Avon Grove School Board’s next regular meeting will take place on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Avon Grove Intermediate School Music Room. A Committee-of-the-Whole meeting to discuss planning and construction for the new high school will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14.