Eight Phoenixville Area School Board candidates vie for four open seats

Lori Broker

PHOENIXVILLE — The Phoenixville Area School Board will meet tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 16, to conduct interviews to fill a vacancy created with the recent resignation of board member Lori Broker.

The interviews will be public and broadcast online.

The meeting will begin at 6:45 p.m. and the interviews will begin at 7, according to Superintendent Alan Fegley.

The vote on filling the seat, however, will not occur Wednesday, but at the next scheduled meeting, Monday, Sept. 21.

Broker resigned at the Aug. 24 school board meeting, citing "family related" issues.

Broker was elected in 2017, along with Blake Emmanuel, now school board president, Jeesly Soto and Christopher Caltagirone.

One of the topics the candidates will likely be asked to discuss is their thoughts on reopening the schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In early August, the school board voted 8-1 to start school online and not to allow in-person instruction for the first marking period.

A decision on whether to reopen, partially or otherwise, is scheduled for Oct. 8 and whoever is chosen to replace Broker will be among those making that decision.

During Monday's board meeting, Fegley told the board that although earlier numbers were encouraging, the latest trend in those testing positive for coronavirus is "headed in the wrong direction."

That means more people who live in the district are testing positive for the virus, not less.

Three people tested positive in the week that started Aug. 8. But 16 people tested positive between Sept. 5 and Sept. 11, Fegley said.

Although board member David Golberg tried to advance to next week discussion of the parameters by which the board will decide when and if to reopen, the majority shot him down Monday in a 5-3 vote.

School Board President Blake Emmanuel said the district's pandemic response team will provide a report the week of Sept. 21, and a vote by the board is scheduled for Oct. 9.

It was made clear that although the administration is following closely the guidelines provided by the Chester County Health Department, the decision on whether or not to reopen in any form rests solely with the school board.

In the meantime, the district will issue another survey, one of faculty and staff, and the other of parents and students, although this one will not be anonymous.

The results will be used to get a sense of how many students would return to in-person learning should the board decide to allow it.

This article first appeared as a post in The Digital Notebook blog.

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