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Superintendent's Blog

The View From Here

Welcome to The View From Here, a blog by School District of Lancaster Superintendent Dr. Damaris Rau. She publishes about once a week on a range of issues, from topics local to international. Rau is a veteran of 35+ years in education, including stints as teacher and principal in urban and suburban school districts. She has been superintendent of the School District of Lancaster since 2015.

Op-Ed: Going through the obstacles

This post was originally published as a joint op-ed in LNP | LancasterOnline signed by me, school board president Dr. Edith Gallagher and Lancaster Education Association president Mr. Jason Molloy, a Price Elementary teacher. Between us, we have nearly a century of experience as educators. The 2019-2020 academic year presented challenges to our profession unlike […]

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Furloughs are a last resort—now and always

Viewers of our recent school board meetings know that the board considered and approved a resolution authorizing the board to furlough employees for economic reasons, as LNP + LancasterOnline reported on Thursday. I want to provide some context on what this does—and does not—mean for our staff. The Pennsylvania school code requires school boards to […]

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Let local school boards decide what to do about taxes

The state Legislature recently considered an amended bill that would freeze local real estate taxes for the upcoming year in response to the COVID-19 emergency. We join PSBA, PASBO and PSEA in opposing this measure, a heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all policy move that makes a challenging financial picture even worse. Our school board is one of many […]

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An Open Letter to the McCaskey Class of 2020

Dear McCaskey seniors and parents, Many of you have written and called to ask, have we thought about what will happen to commencement and prom? My answer: Every day. Every day I think about how we can make it up to you. We aren’t exactly sure how, but we are committed to making the end […]

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Our equity work is necessary and meaningful

On Saturday, February 29, about 150 of my colleagues at SDoL gathered for the second day of training to improve equity, inclusion and excellence in our schools. I shared some comments at the beginning of that session, reflecting on why this work is important to me. I thought I would share them with our readers […]

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On Preparing for Coronavirus

Due to the extensive media coverage of the Coronavirus, we want to reassure our students, families and staff that the School District of Lancaster is diligently monitoring the situation and remains in daily contact with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Please know that there are NO reported cases […]

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Our School Board calls for charter school reform

On February 19, our school directors unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the General Assembly to enact meaningful charter school funding reform. As I have written before, our biggest financial burden from charter schools comes from cyber charter tuition, on which we spend $2.5 million a year. I join our directors in advocating for reform […]

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State budget update

The first piece of our budget puzzle has fallen into place. Gov. Wolf unveiled his proposed state budget on Tuesday, including his proposals for education funding. For the School District of Lancaster, the results are mixed. First, the good news. The governor’s proposed budget provides savings to school districts by setting charter payments for cyber […]

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Our budget outlook is challenging

Last week, our school board approved a preliminary budget for the 2020-2021 school year with a projected deficit of more than $10 million. It appears that this will be a budget year as challenging as those SDoL faced in the early 2010s. You may have read in LNP + LancasterOnline that it would take a […]

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Fair Funding and SDoL

Last month, I updated our High School Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) on our school district’s legal case against the PA Department of Education and the idea of fair funding. We are hopeful the case goes to trial this year. It is tentatively scheduled for this summer in Commonwealth Court. In 2016, the state Legislature adopted […]

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How our students are saving $250K+ on college tuition

Last month, I invited Dr. Jeremy Raff, our coordinator of college & career services, to call for reforms that could help low-income, first-generation college students be more successful pursuing higher education. Today, I want to share one key strategy of ours to help these students—dual enrollment—and how you can help. I have spoken about dual […]

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Shining the spotlight on a special partner

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending a special tree-lighting program at Christmas Tree Lane at Clipper Magazine Stadium. The School District of Lancaster is fortunate to have decorated one the trees, thanks to the generosity of our friends at Willow Valley Communities. Hand Middle School decorated the tree. FYI, you can vote for […]

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Congress can help low-income students succeed after high school

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate this week passed amended versions of the FUTURE Act, which simplifies the FAFSA process for student financial aid. It also permanently reauthorizes funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). For low-income students, federal policy can make or break their pursuit of higher […]

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A call to action

On Thursday, I joined with colleagues from nearly 20 urban schools across Pennsylvania to advocate for our students, teachers, staff and families. Specifically, we called on our leaders in Harrisburg to reform the funding and oversight of charter schools and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania. Below are my remarks, with some minor edits for space. […]

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Thankful

It is the season of giving thanks, and as our students and staff embark on a much-deserved break, I want to share how thankful I am to continue to lead an amazing group of people in the School District of Lancaster. From the earnestness and resilience of our students, to the passion and professionalism of […]

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2020