Franklin hears more health center opposition

Franklin School Board members heard discussion again Monday about the health resource centers that are being proposed for schools across the state.

The Franklin board approved a center in the school district at a meeting in December.

“It’s organizations like this that want to groom future clients for Planned Parenthood,” former Franklin School Board member Jim Fryman said at Monday’s meeting.

AccessMatters, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that is funded by the state and distributes money to organizations that implement the centers, has been criticized in prior meetings for its funding ties to Planned Parenthood.

Jane Richey, a Franklin resident and vocal opponent of the centers, urged the board to take a second look at its decision and asked specifics of the contract the district will enter into with UPMC Magee Women’s Health.

“What kind of discretion will the board have (over the center),” Richey asked. She referred to UPMC’s original presentation given to the board in December which mentioned events and activities the center could organize.

Richey asked the board what the district could do if the center decided to put up displays “that may be extremely offensive to some of the parents in the district.”

She also mentioned that she had found several programs other than AccessMatters that she felt the board had overlooked.

One program Richey mentioned was brought to the board’s attention by Kim Simons, director of the ABC Life Center in Franklin.

“I’m not here to fight against AccessMatters,” Simons said, though she admitted she didn’t like the organization.

Simons said the ABC Center has purchased a program called “Choosing the Best” that focuses strongly on the practice of abstinence. She said the ABC Center had been searching for someone to teach the program in the schools and invited the board to learn more about the program to possibly enter into a partnership.

Simons, who said she has a background in education, offered to teach the program herself.

“I know we live in a very real world,” Simons said. She added that the program touches on contraceptives and teaches mental and physical health and interpersonal relationships.

The program is non-religious.

Later in the meeting, board members agreed to schedule a session with Simons to learn more about the program.

Parents vent about bullying

In other business Monday, Julie Myers and Don Judy, who are parents of Sandycreek Elementary students, used the public participation portion of the meeting to air concerns about the learning environment within the school.

“Kids are not only being bullied by other kids, but by teachers,” Myers said.

Myers spoke at length about instances she said she has heard about from her child that include masking tape lines with students’ names that represent how far away from the teacher’s desk they must stand.

Myers also said her child has been subjected to racial slurs and been told by the teacher she was “mean” because she did not wish to participate in a project with another student.

She urged the board to meet with students and evaluate teachers and their practices.

“Talk to the kids, because that is who you are here for,” she said.

Judy brought concerns that parents of students are not given enough tools to help their children succeed in classes.

“Somehow the parent is getting left out of a lot of decisions,” he said.

He suggested to the board that a syllabus be sent home with every report card so parents would be able to help their children understand what to study and when.

“Let the parents help,” he said. “I can help you help me help my child.”

In other matters:

— Superintendent Pamela Dye announced that the district has decided not to renew its contract with the learning program IXL.

— The board will explore options for a new driver’s education vehicle next month. Dye said she doesn’t feel the school’s current vehicle is safe enough for students to drive.

At the suggestion of district business manager Jackie Dutchcot, the board will look at mini-van options that can be utilized by the district when the vehicle isn’t being used by the class. The vehicle is currently only used for driver’s education.

— Power was restored to Victory Elementary School late Monday afternoon. The school has now had to close three times due to power issues.

Dye said an application has been sent to the state so students won’t have to make up the the days.

— The district has used its last snow day that was built into this year’s schedule. If the district closes again, extra days will be added to the end of the year.