New 3-Region Voting Plan Passed by WC Area School Board

Chester County School BusDespite some conservative opposition, a new 3-region voting plan passed tonight by the West Chester Area School Board (WCASB). With one director absent, the final vote is 6-2 in favor of the map below.

The Borough of West Chester (purple) is in the new Region 1, along with most of West Goshen. If approved by our courts, our local voters will have greater input in selecting board directors who represent us.

No longer will just a few municipalities —or one party— control school board elections. More importantly, communication between board directors and their constituents becomes closer and directors become more responsive to residents.

Although not a Democratic Party initiative, we think this is a progressive step by our current board directors. Join us in giving them our thanks by contacting the Board.

New West Chester Area School District Regional Map (click map to enlarge)

New West Chester Area School District Regional Map (click map to enlarge)

Joyce Chester: “Not supporting our public education system is a safety hazard to any community”

This is an excerpt from the PTOC (Parent Teacher Organization Council) questionnaire as filled out by West Chester borough resident Joyce Chester, one of the 4 candidates of the bipartisan A Better Direction team.

The purpose of public education is to enable equal access to education for each and every child in a community – education that introduces information to teach and transform their individual potential, encouraging them to grow into successful adulthood. Having traveled to second and third world countries where public education does not exist, I can clearly see the awesome value of using this mechanism to ensure that education is not only made available but is required. This is so important, ensuring the availability of a competitive workforce, not only regionally but nationally and indeed internationally.

Education is a leveling force and making it accessible to the public helps to reinforce our strength as a country not only for today but for our future as well.

I believe that public education should be considered an investment into our communities. To fund and sustain our public school system we need to pay taxes as individuals and corporations. This not to say we should pay more or less than we’re currently paying. We should as taxpayers, however, be mindful and vocal about what our current tax dollars support. More prisons make much less sense than more educational facilities. Educational concerns that do not produce appropriate outcomes make less sense than supporting those that do. Not supporting our public education system is a safety hazard to any community.

Those who cannot afford to pay for private or parochial education depend on this system for increased knowledge, awareness, productiveness, etc. Where knowledge reigns, hopelessness and helplessness is displaced. This should be our focus for every community in this country….

For the rest of Joyce’s thoughts, see the interview here. See the other 7 interviews here. The other 3 Better Direction candidates are Kaliner, McCune, and Swalm.

Excerpt from Robin Kaliner’s statement

My first priority as a WCASD School Board Director is to return transparency and open dialogue to board meetings. A public school board should welcome input from its stakeholders, not try to limit and discourage it. Board and committee meetings should be exchanges of ideas and information, not procedural events where members simply go through the motions in order to fulfill their legal duties. I believe that respectful disagreement and the exchange of dichotomous ideas often results in a better solution. Sitting board members have stated that the current homogeneous nature of the board is an asset, but there is a reason that a board is comprised of 9 individuals and if all members have the same ideology you are doing a disservice to your diverse student body and community.

Excerpt from Chris McCune’s statement

…Public education is a collective community effort where we all benefit either directly or indirectly (property values). There are more constituents that benefit indirectly from the public school district in any given year. There are two keys to maintaining healthy relations with all constituents. Those keys are proactive communications with regular feedback opportunities and simply being a good listener when issues arise.

Excerpt from Ricky Swalm’s statement

…One of the major differences between America and the rest of the world is our education system. While the press loves to demonize our world rankings, they fail to compare apples to apples. In America, everyone is entitled to an education regardless of socioeconomic status or ability to pay. Public education is the great equalizer. If children and families want to escape poverty and improve one’s lot in life, public education is the ticket. I am living proof of that. I grew up in a trailer in my grandmother’s back yard with two sisters and a mother (no father) who worked piece-meal in a sewing factory. She believed in her children going to school and doing well in school and while she wasn’t much help when it came to knowing our school work, she encouraged us and challenged us to be better than she. I now have my Ph.D. and believe I have escaped the poverty we lived in all because of public education.

WCASD school board race: videos of bipartisan team and public meeting

Joyce Chester
9/20 meet and greet
interview 10/15/13

Robin Kaliner
9/20 meet and greet, part I
9/20 meet and greet, part II

Chris McCune
9/20 meet and greet
interview 10/14/13

Ricky Swalm
9/20 meet and greet

Also, hear an interview with the candidates by Bill Mason at WCHE, 10/7/13.

For context, see also, from WestChesterTeach:

WCASD School Board Meeting 9.23.13 – Student Public Comment
WCASD School Board Meeting 9.23.13 – Teacher Public Comments
WCASD School Board Meeting 9.23.13 – Public Comment Parents

The Choice for True Leadership in WCASD

from A View from the Cheap Seats, 5/8/13

The mission of West Chester Vote is to preserve excellence in education for West Chester Schools by supporting candidates who will protect our educational and enrichment programs. West Chester Vote is endorsing Joyce Chester, Robin Kaliner, Chris McCune and Dr. Ricky Swalm as Directors for West Chester Area School District. Two years ago, this community voted to change the direction of the school board to one that serves all taxpayers by electing one write-in candidate!  One board director alone cannot adequately represent us. We must be successful in electing 4 more board directors.   We stand no chance of preserving excellence when the current majority of the 9 school board members share the same philosophy. The strength of the educational integrity of our school district prepares our children for high performance and success and is paramount to improving and protecting our property values. The current school board majority has demonstrated a lack of leadership through the following actions:

Not Fiscally Responsible: Inability to balance student needs, taxpayer resources, and long term goals limits our ability to maintain high scores and high property values.

Focus: Dedicating time and efforts towards single issues and ideology prevents us from addressing those matters that pertain to excellence in public education and the best interests of our community.

Transparency: Voting in “lock step” and without public discussion is not only divisive to the process but also shows a blatant disregard for the rights of the community to receive representation representative of all residents in the community.

The primary election on Tuesday, May 21 will not only decide who wins the 4 director seats but also the direction this school district will take for the next 4 years. As a citizens group committed to educational excellence, we ask you to help us by voting for our 4 endorsed candidates – Chester, Kaliner, McCune and Swalm, who, if elected, will help to change the direction of the WCASD board.

Please visit the candidates’ website. Please show your support in this effort by committing to vote on Tuesday, 5/21.

Need an absentee ballot:click here. Last date to file is 5/14.