The days are counting down to Election Day on Tuesday, November 5. There are 10 school board candidates for the T/E School Board and 6 seats available — do you know who you are voting for?
The saga of the elusive correction of the District’s $1.2 million accounting error continues. On my Community Matters post from yesterday I included the October 16 letter from Edward Furman, CPA from Maillie LLP which details their position. The Furman letter was subsequently added to the District website, ,although not easy to find.
It has been 4+ months since the school board vote of June 11 which directed the District to correct the District audits and Annual Financial Reports for 2016/17 yr and 2017/18 yr with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Based on the Furman letter, it is obvious that as of October 16, the business manager has not moved the process forward.
Given this recent information from the auditor leaves the public with more questions than answers about the District’s financial management. As a result, the upcoming election of 6 school board directors takes on increased importance!
I thank and appreciate that all 10 T/E School Board candidates (and earlier, the 8 Tredyffrin Township and 4 Easttown Township supervisor candidates) responded to my questions and hope that voters take the time to read them!
It is appropriate that the fourth and final question which I asked the school board candidates is as follows.
Question #4: What differentiates you from the other candidates and /or board member? Why should you be elected or re-elected?!
Doug Anestad Response:
One of the biggest things that differentiates me from the other candidates is my experience in both the private sector and the education field. I was in the technology field for a decade before being a public-school teacher for a decade. I have since returned to the private sector for the last six years. This diverse experience allows me to see issues from both sides.
The other thing that differentiates me is my history of speaking out for the parents and the community and trying to give them a real voice. If elected, I will not automatically think that everything the administration does can’t be improved.
I will do everything I can to give the parents and the community a real voice. This includes having them be members of committees and asking follow-up questions from the public instead of letting them speak and then ignoring their suggestions.
Michele Burger Response:
As a 21 year resident and parent of 3 district graduates, I have had the privilege of serving my community in various capacities, working in a non-partisan way to preserve the excellent public education that makes our community a desirable place to live, work, and raise a family. If re-elected, I’m planning for the future by advocating for an independent financial advisor, conducting a comprehensive evaluation of ALL district infrastructure, and supporting reading instruction based on “the science of reading” with data-driven interventions. My accomplishments to date:
- Controlled wasteful spending (e.g. protecting taxpayers’ investment by saving $1.2 million on the security camera system without compromising student/staff safety)
- Gathered community/expert input PRIOR to making decisions
- Moved committee meetings to evenings
- Held Open House regarding proposed high school expansion
- Healthier start times
- Air conditioning for elementary schools
- Laptops for 7-12 grades
BUT, there’s more work to be done!
Roberta Hotinski Response:
I have spent my entire professional life working in science and higher education environments. I have served on the Board for four years, as education chair since January 2018. I have advocated for the following changes and helped make them a reality:
- Healthier school start times
- The Conestoga high school expansion
- Elementary school air conditioning
- Laptops for students in grades 7-12
- Increased transparency through preservation of Board documents on the web (previously maintained for only 1 year)
During that time I’ve also been involved in the negotiation of three district contracts that were concluded with no disruption to the district. I’m an experienced leader who studies the issues and listens to the voices of all stakeholders, and I would be honored to serve another 4 years as a director for Region 1.
Mary Garrett Itin Response:
As a licensed social worker, I bring a unique set of skills to the School Board. I am passionate about improving student wellness and safety. Suicide is the second leading cause of death of youth ages 10-24. Over 20% of children and adolescents in the United States experience mental health challenges impacting their academic success, functioning, and relationships. Oftentimes our students who are doing the best are struggling and don’t want to let us know. Through my work, we have added explicit goals related to student’s social-emotional learning and mental health into the District Goals. I am a skilled facilitator and trainer, and I have 15-years of experience working in difficult situations where trust, accountability, and transparency are challenged and developing collaboration. We can provide education excellence for ALL of our students and improve our budget process.
Todd Kantorczyk Response:
Each current Board member brings unique strengths and perspectives to this role based on individual experiences and views. But one thing I have learned during my first term is that while from time to time I may disagree with individual Board members on a question, we all share a commitment to public education in our community. This job requires the dedication of many hours, not just in meetings, but also outside of meetings reviewing materials and preparing to be able to make important decisions that affect our entire community—all on a volunteer basis. Regarding the question as to why I should be re-elected, as an unopposed incumbent, I would say that over the past four years I have dedicated the time and energy to do this job and maintain the high standards for our public schools that our community deserves, and I am prepared to do it again.
Nicholas Lee Response:
I offer a unique perspective as an educator without any personal ties to the T/E School District administration or teachers union. I studied at the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University and at Saint Louis University’s graduate School of Education. I believe a healthy TE School Board should have a limited number of experienced educators on its team, but I also believe that the majority of these educators should not have a history teaching in or administering in TE schools. As a private school educator in Wilmington, DE, I bring knowledge and expertise concerning the educational needs of today’s students and families, as well as an understanding of the demands and strains on current teachers.
Kate Murphy Response:
My voting record demonstrates areas where I’ve differed from others. First, delayed start times. I liked the idea but wanted to hold off while we studied the options and carefully weighed the costs against the benefits. Second, the proposed literacy committee. I thought the committee would be a good mechanism for educating parents and taxpayers, supporting teachers in their work, and helping kids. Third, the budget. After lengthy discussion of the delayed payment of invoices and the troubling history of projected deficits and actual surpluses, I lost confidence in the budget process. I advocated for a tax increase consistent with the cost of living adjustment. I’m proud of these votes but even more proud of the work that went into them: studying the issues; discussing them with board members, administrators, and community members; and carefully weighing the options. If re-elected, I’ll keep pushing for what’s best, even against resistance.
Stacy Stone Response:
With reading specialist, special education instruction and supervision, and Deaf education certifications as well as Wilson Reading System training, along with more than thirty years of experience as a teacher, supervisor, and consultant in public, private, and parochial schools in Pennsylvania and Illinois, I will bring a broad view of education to the board. Specifically, my background and experience make me uniquely qualified to advocate for and monitor the provision of literacy instruction that includes systematic, explicit phonological awareness and phonics instruction in K-2 classrooms in T/E. Finally, as a 33-year Tredyffrin resident and parent of two grown children who attended T/E schools, I understand parents’ concerns and will keep them in mind as I work hard to preserve and improve our district’s educational programs and services to prepare ALL of our students for the future.
Ed Sweeney Response:
For the past four years, I have had success as a challenging and reforming yet more conservative voice on the Board. TE needs to lower our yearly tax rate and have financial accountability, real time financial reporting, and partner with parents. My record shows that I have tried hard to effectuate these needed changes. I will take a minority position if it makes a necessary point that makes the community think more deeply on an issue. I have been successful at working to find the votes for a middle ground position.
My vision as a TE School Director to maintain and improve the high quality of our School District is: (1) be a world class school district that prepares our students for College and life and (2) maintain an affordable community where middle class voters, single income families, and retirees can live without being taxed out of the district.
Sue Tiede Response:
I have spent my entire professional career in education. As a teacher, school counselor, elementary principal and district-level administrator I have had the privilege and the responsibility of working with children, parents, teachers and community members to provide students with an unrivaled public-school education experience. As a proud parent of three Conestoga graduates and the grandparent of five young students who live in the T/E District, I am deeply invested in ensuring our first-rate schools continue to be the cornerstone of this vibrant community in which we live.