Two women who want to bring back the Redskins are running for the Lancaster School Board against two incumbents who voted to remove the longstanding district mascot, and if the board meeting Tuesday is any indication, the controversy is not going away before elections May 19.
A fifth woman also is on the ballot for the election and school budget vote May 19.
Brenda Christopher and Kelly Depczynski are adamant supporters of the mascot and have appeared at recent board meetings. The candidate field also includes incumbents Wendy Buchert and Kim Nowak. Both voted with the rest of the seven-member Board of Education last month to retire the mascot.
Also running is Wendy A. DellaNeve. The two board seats are for three years, beginning July 1.
The board Tuesday unanimously adopted a $99.94 million budget plan that keeps all programming and staffing intact. The budget raises spending by 2.57 percent and increases the estimated tax levy by 1.83 percent, well under the 2.61 percent maximum under the state tax levy cap formula.
The budget plan drew few questions, but the board heard strong comments from Christopher and Greg Sojka, who opposed the board’s mascot decision.
Christopher insisted her pro-mascot group is not going out of its way to promote voting against the budget. “The pro-Redskins team is not out for revenge and to fail the budget,” said Christopher, a Lancaster graduate who served on the board from 2010 to 2013.
But she said her group is encouraging residents to vote based on the budget’s merits.
Sojka asked why police officers have been assigned to board meetings, particularly a work session held a few weeks ago, when pro-mascot supporters were in force and, many felt, were threatening and out of control toward the board and Superintendent Michael J. Vallely.
“Why were six police officers at the last board meeting?” he asked.
Board President Kenneth Graber was quick to respond: “You really have to ask? Because of what happened at the last meeting.”
Sojka questioned why taxpayers should have to pay for police to be on duty at school board meetings.
“It is because of the near riot conditions that happened two meetings ago,” Graber answered.
The next board meeting is May 11, beginning with an informal Meet the Candidates session at 6 p.m. at the high school, followed by a budget public hearing at 7.
In addition to the budget proposition, the election of the two board seats, a $57.3 million capital project and a $946,496 proposition to buy eight, 65-passenger buses are also on the ballot for voters to decide in voting from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. May 19 in the High School gym.