by Madison White Franks
LANCASTER—Six speakers during the Lancaster board of supervisors’ public comment period on January 31 addressed rumors that school superintendent Dr. Steve Parker’s contract would not be renewed.
The school board five years ago, hired Dr. Parker, said Charlie Costello, a volunteer tutor.
“In the past 20 years, that is the best thing that has happened in the county. I understand now that they are thinking of not renewing his contract,” he continued. “In my estimation, it needs to be renewed and I think that you gentlemen individually as citizens of this county have a duty to all of us to see that the best is done for the county.”
“When I heard that this was going on about a week ago, to potentially not continue the contract of our superintendent, I had a hard time sleeping,” said Bill Warren of the Partners for Lancaster County Schools Foundation. “It shocked me beyond belief.”
He said he talked to an estimated 40 “community leaders” and they thought Dr. Parker was doing a great job.
“I’m alarmed and saddened. I think it would cause tremendous harm to the county,” he added. “I don’t think it would be in the best interest of the community, our schools or our students.”
He also said losing the superintendent could prolong the process of getting new schools.
“If we lost our superintendent amidst the process of trying to get new schools, I think if I were you, I would just say ‘time out, let’s see what this new person has to say’,” said Warren. “I think any action to not continue with the superintendent is going to have a tremendous impact not only on the community in their confidence in the school system but also on the economy and everything we know about this county. We are going to take 10 steps back and potentially push aside any possibility of getting new schools.
“Anything you can do as a board to stop what appears to be an unstoppable process would be greatly appreciated,” he said.
Jack Neal of the Verlander Foundation said he is a friend of Dr. Parker because they both believe in one thing and that’s the kids of Lancaster County.
“I run a foundation that right now has 148 kids in college under some assistance from the Verlander Foundation. Over 600 kids from the county have been through it. I have spent about $600,000 this year and I have spent about $7 million since 2001 on the kids of this county. Until Steve got here with all the other superintendents, not one [superintendent] ever came to my office and asked what in the heck I was doing. Not one was interested enough to come. Steve had been here about three weeks and all of a sudden things started happening,” said Neal. “If you do have some influence do what you can to keep him here. By golly, look at some of the things that have happened in the last four years.”
Many parents, educators and the community feel as if we have a great superintendent, said parent Mary Posey……