2/9/22 DASD School Board Meeting—Town Halls, Tech Fees, and a Heaping Dish of Drama


The Downingtown Area School District held its monthly Board Meeting on February 9, 2022. The relatively calm, productive meeting was bookended with altercations requiring security involvement. 

Prelude—Drama Llama

Several members of the community attempted to enter the administrative building without masks on. Masks are currently required inside all school buildings. One man reportedly held the door open, blocking others from entering, while insisting that he be allowed to enter without a mask. After repeatedly asking him to either don a mask or move to the side, the DASD security guard then moved forward to escort the man out of the way so others could enter the building. The man attempted to kick and hit in the direction of the security guard, banging the door and shouting “You cannot touch me! You cannot touch me!” 

Next, a member of the community approached the President of the School Board and apparently presented her with a petition calling for her, along with all other Board members who ever voted for masking, to be removed from office. 

Before the meeting was called to order, the solicitor gave a reminder about the mandatory mask policy. Community members were instructed that if they would not put a mask on when reminded, they would be asked to leave; and if they refused to leave, the chamber would be cleared. At this point, some residents chose to leave the room. 

Then, at last, the meeting began. You can watch the livestream of the Board meeting here on YouTube. (It begins with the admonitions about masks.) You can also find the agenda here on the DASD website.

Superintendent’s Update—Pandemic, Communications, Capital Budget


Dr. Lonardi celebrated that the recent surge in Covid cases is rapidly improving. Numbers are now around 252/100k and positivity around 15%. She stated that if case numbers drop into moderate, masks will immediately become optional per the Health and Safety Plan. She then stated her hope that the Board will revisit the Health and Safety Plan at their next meeting on March 9. 


DASD has been in the midst of an extensive communications audit. The public are invited to participate in a brief survey at www.dasd.org/commsurvey by February 14.

Capital Budget

DASD makes certain improvements and purchases out of its capital budget. A summary report was shared in advance of a full budget report coming later this spring.  Tune into the Livestream around 11:45 to hear the details, with slides.

Committee Reports

High School student representatives shared reports about student activities (at 41:49). There were updates shared from Student Life (51:10), Cultural Equity (52:10—of note, an upcoming “I Am Downingtown” campaign and a special event with Brian Dawkins on 2/23), the Intermediate Unit (54:47), DARC (56:55), the Education Foundation (58:03), the Legislative Committee (58:47), Communities that Care (1:05:09) and the Wellness Committee (1:07:54). Each of these groups taps into important, pressing areas of activity for DASD and we encourage you to look into the ones that interest you.

Action Agenda

The Board unanimously approved all items on the action agenda—spending decisions related to curriculum, personnel, and technology. You can review in full on pp. 2-4 of the agenda

Discussion—Elementary Town Hall Meeting(s)

You might remember some debate about the best path to Full Day Kindergarten in DASD. How do we add classrooms across all ten schools? Is it best to build a 5/6 school or tack additions onto several of the elementaries? Or some third path? What about other renovation and improvement needs in the elementary schools? The latest development was a plan to table the decision and host some Town Hall Meetings so the Board can discuss the choices with the public. 

Tonight the Board further clarified these plans (1:14:10). They talked about how best to focus the time, how to get the word out, etc. They decided to start with one Town Hall meeting held in person and simultaneously live streamed on a date to be determined, likely in the second half of March, with another to follow depending on turnout. Please stay tuned as this will be an important opportunity to help shape the elementary trajectory for DASD. 

Discussion—Technology Fees

The Board next continued its recent discussion about student tech fees (at 2:05:05). Currently these fees are mandatory at $75 per K-8 student (for an iPad) and $100 per 9-12 student (for a ChromeBook). There was a productive and well-balanced conversation about the balance between personal responsibility for tech devices, fiscal challenges for families, and fiscal responsibility to the public. The Board ended the discussion by approaching consensus around a compromise: reducing tech fees to $50 per K-8 and $75 per 9-12, adding a family cap of $175, plus a small millage tax increase of 0.2%. This was not a final decision; the Board will vote to approve this change at a future meeting. 

Public Comment—Woah, Nelly

Public comment tonight was nearly all about masking, and we’ll get to that in a moment. First, we want to note that apparently, not everyone in Downingtown is as happy as we are to see our Muslim and Hindu community members acknowledged in the upcoming calendar with days off for Eid al-Fitr and Diwali, respectively. There was a commenter complaining that “Easter Monday” was removed from the school calendar in order to “give them their holiday”—i.e. taking a day off for Eid on a Friday. “Why take away Easter Monday in order to celebrate a Muslim holiday?” wondered the speaker. 

We would like this speaker to find comfort in seeing that the schools are closed on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, not to mention a full week off to coincide with the biggest Christian holiday (Christmas). 

Back to masks. There were speakers on both sides of the aisle tonight. Some spoke in favor of the current Health and Safety Plan, or to ask that any changes be mindful of future waves in the Pandemic. Others spoke vehemently against masking. Those who were against masking tended to let their emotions take the lead. For example, one speaker made the truly unkind choice of quoting an Auschwitz survivor while comparing the current Health and Safety Plan to Nazi Germany. 

We can’t help but notice that several of these commenters are clipped on YouTube now and we do wonder if the tone of some remarks was aimed less at working to change policies and more at winning viral clicks. We encourage you to watch any commenters via the DASD live stream (public comment starts at 2:30:27) if you’d rather not give other channels the revenue from your clicks. 

The last commenter of the night seemed determined to let a productive meeting end badly. She refused to wear her mask and alluded with pride to the petition, “violence,” and social media campaign described above. She then accused the board members and administration of being “child-abusing, pornographic-loving, pedophilia-endorsing, evil animals.” She went on to say “you deserve to be publicly shamed and humiliated for abusing children.” She then embarrassed a board member who briefly turned away to sip some water, before yelling at the solicitor for responding to her questions about her time. After she accused the Board of prolonging the Pandemic because it gives them an ego boost, her microphone was turned off. She continued to yell at the board for some time, until ultimately a security officer, accompanied by a police officer, had to escort her out. 

Our two cents: If you are opposed to masking, fine. You are free to argue your case. But frankly, to treat neighbors and civil servants in this manner says much more about you than it could ever say about them. And there we will stop—because unlike some, we do know how to be civil in public. 

The meeting ended with the enrollment report. The next meetings will be the Committee of the Whole meeting on March 2, followed by the Board Meeting on March 9.

One thought on “2/9/22 DASD School Board Meeting—Town Halls, Tech Fees, and a Heaping Dish of Drama

  1. Thank you so much for this clear and concise summary of the meeting. I appreciate the work that went into it, and I appreciate your civility. 🙂

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