York County School Board members heard from a Tabb Middle School student asking for help with racist bullying, as well as from parents wanting later school start times and others concerned about plans for temporary classroom space until a new elementary school is built.
The comments were made during the public comment period and a public hearing on the York County School Division's proposed Capital Improvement Program at the School Board meeting Monday.
The student, 13-year-old TMS eighth-grader Za'Khari Waddy, said that he has been told racist things in school and the principal didn't do anything. He asked the School Board to help make a change at his school.
Waddy's allegations of racist bullying were detailed in a letter he sent to his school and the New York Daily News, which published a recent social justice column about it.
Waddy's mother and grandmother, as well as two NAACP representatives, urged the board to take the matter seriously and work toward improving situations between students. Waddy's mother, Zettrona Powell, requested action against bullying and racism.
Several board members commended Za'Khari Waddy for speaking at the meeting. Board members reiterated their zero tolerance policy for bullying.
Three parents spoke in favor of later high school start times, which the School Board is in the early stages of exploring.
Seven parents spoke about overcrowding at county elementary schools, which will be addressed by the building of a new school, and the impacts of the use of temporary classrooms. The school district has temporary and long-term plans in its capital plan.
YCSD Superintendent Victor Shandor on Nov. 9 recommended to the School Board moving back the planned construction of a new elementary school by a year and using trailers at two schools in the meantime.
A total of $26.6 million for a new elementary school during the next two years was the largest expense in the proposed Ten Year Facilities Master Plan and CIP presented to the School Board at a work session Nov. 9. The proposed plan would put a four-classroom modular unit at Yorktown Elementary School and a six-classroom modular unit at Magruder Elementary School until the new school can be built. The CIP contains $900,000 for next school year for temporary modular classrooms.
The School Board will discuss the CIP at a Dec. 7 work session and take it up for approval Dec. 14. The plan then goes to the Board of Supervisors for inclusion in the county's budget plan.