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)

West Chester picks new school board member

By Kendal Gapinski, Daily Local News, 6/17/14

WEST GOSHEN — The West Chester Area School Board voted unanimously Monday night to fill its vacant seat with longtime school district resident and previous school board hopeful Gary Bevilacqua.

Bevilacqua will fill the seat of Linda Raileanu, who resigned at last month’s school board meeting because she had to move out of state for a new job.

After formally accepting Raileanu’s resignation on May 28, the board legally had 30 days to fill the vacant seat.

Bevilacqua was interviewed along with three other candidates — Dianne Herrin, Kate Shaw and Cinda Russell-Reese — Monday night during a special school board meeting at Spellman Administration Building, 829 Paoli Pike.

“I was impressed with everyone,” board member Robin Kaliner said. “While very different, everybody brought something that would be valuable to the board.”

The candidates were each asked eight questions, which were provided to them ahead of time to review and prepare, and were given 20 minutes to answer the questions. Questions included why they wanted to be on the board, what they felt its priorities should be, their knowledge of the budget and state mandates, as well as whether they had children in the district and how many school board meetings they had attended….

read more at Daily Local News

West Chester OKs change in school board elections

By Kendal Gapinski, Daily Local News, 04/29/14

WEST GOSHEN — West Chester Area School District officials voted Monday to change the way board members are elected, from at-large to three regions.

The board voted to approve the measure at its business meeting Monday in a 6-3 vote, with Maureen Snook, Linda Raileanu and Vince Murphy casting the dissenting votes.

The system would allow the district to be broken up into three regions, with three board members representing each region. Currently, the district allows all nine board members to be elected from residents from the entire district. The Electoral Committee recommended the board approve the regionalization during its meeting last Tuesday.

Many residents spoke during public comment, with some saying they supported the measure and others asking the board to provide the public with more information. Amy Ludwig, a resident who started the group WCunified to oppose the regionalization, asked the board to table the vote. She said she was concerned about her votes being cut by the regionalization.

“When you go to take votes away from every single voter I would hope you would take more time to explore and explain why this is the right thing to do,” said Ludwig.

Other residents said they were encouraged by the resolution, with some saying they felt that regionalization would help to take politics out of the school board. Resident Spencer Virta said he felt that the process had been open and residents had a chance to review the move to regionalize before the vote Monday. …

read more at Daily Local News

West Chester school board fills vacancy

By Jeremy Gerrard, Daily Local News, 12/17/13

WESTTOWN — The search to fill the vacancy on the West Chester Area School Board ended Monday evening as East Bradford resident Bret Binder was voted as the ninth and final school director.

The board was left short one member in early November after board member Karen Miller submitted her resignation letter, citing an immediate exit from the board for personal reasons.

After formally accepting the resignation in November, the board had 30 days to fill the position.

The board began its first seven candidate interviews last week and finished with the last two at its monthly meeting Monday evening at Bayard Rustin High School.

At the close of the application acceptance date, the district had received materials for 11 candidates, though two later removed their names.

At the conclusion of interviews, board members each selected their top three candidates. Those with the most votes were the finalists.

After tabulating the votes, Binder — along with Gary Bevilacqua and James Bady — were the finalists.

Board members conducted some discussion before a vote. Initial votes for Bevilacqua and Bady split 4-4.

On the third vote, Binder was selected by a margin of 5-3 with members Vince Murphy, Linda Raileanu and Maureen Snook dissenting.

Candidates were given eight questions to review and prepare for ahead of time and awarded 15 minutes to respond. …

read more at Daily Local News

West Chester school board begins interview process

by Jeremy Gerrard, Daily Local News, 12/10/13

WEST GOSHEN — The selection process for filling the empty seat on the West Chester Area School Board took a step forward at a special meeting Monday as the board began the interview process.

The board was left short one member in early November after Karen Miller submitted a resignation letter citing an immediate exit from the board for personal reasons.

After formally accepting the resignation in November, applications were made available through the district.

At the close of the application acceptance date, the district had received materials from 11 candidates. Board President Rick Swalm announced at Monday’s meeting that two candidates have since removed themselves from consideration.

On Monday, the district interviewed its first seven candidates.

Monday’s interviews included George Martynick Jr., Deborah Liczwek, Gary Bevilacqua, Nancy Bucceri, Jim Meikle, Jim Davison and James Bady.

Candidates were questioned on their intentions, familiarity with budgets and prioritizing with all the mandates facing education. Other questions included whether they had children in the district and if they attended any previous board meetings.

Finally, candidates were asked for their opinions on the ongoing teacher contract negotiations, redistricting and managing a budget within the Act 1 index. …

read more at Daily Local News

Kick Politics Out of Education

Hi Friends –

I am writing to ask you to vote this coming Tuesday Nov 5th for Chester, Kaliner, McCune and Swalm for WCASD school board.

The incumbent slate (appearing as Republicans on the ballot) is funded by an organization led by Colin Hanna, an ex Chester County Commissioner who has been called “The New Norquist.” Hanna is a national political power broker who recently fought to keep the government shut down, who wants to push a social agenda in public schools, who speaks for the radical Tea Party on national news shows, and who wants to funnel taxpayer money intended for public schools into private schools – which effectively defunds public education. Please ask yourself: Why are Carpenter, Coyle, Latorre and Pimley taking money from Colin Hanna’s political group?

Personally, I view this as a clear and troubling conflict of interest. Our public school board members are supposed to be advocates for public education. They are supposed to be wise managers of the money we pay in to public schools. They are supposed be stewards of our children’s future, not mouthpieces for a crazy political movement. They are supposed to ensure that radical social agendas – from either end of the spectrum – do not make their way into our schools. They are supposed to adhere to the National School Board Association’s code of ethics, which states that school board members must “refuse to surrender judgment to individuals or special interest groups” and “avoid being placed in a position of conflict of interest.”

Joyce Chester, Robin Kaliner, Chris McCune and Ricky Swalm are moderate candidates who believe in the benefits that a quality public education offers our children. They understand that a quality school district is the cornerstone of a prosperous community, no matter where you may send your own kids to school. Three of these candidates are registered Republicans, even though they will appear as Democrats on your ballot. For what it’s worth, I know these candidates personally and, although I don’t always agree with them, I respect their integrity, their independence, and their strong commitment to our schools.

Please join me and your many other concerned neighbors, and kick politics out of education.

Vote for CHESTER, KALINER, MCCUNE and SWALM this coming Tuesday November 5th.

http://www.betterdirection4wc.com/

Please forward this on to your friends and neighbors.

Thank you,

Dianne Herrin
WCASD Parent

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.

The Deciding Vote

from A Better Direction for West Chester, 10/30/13

De·cid·ing adj. : Determining or able to determine an outcome

On the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November to the polling places will go civic-minded residents. It is an off-year election, mostly consisting of county and township level contests – row officers, judges, supervisors and school board.

Although it is an off year election, know that  Election Day, Tuesday, November 5th, directly impacts your life.

These races are about your county, school district and township taxes, your property value, the national and state ranking of your school district, the environment, and the strength of your community.

Every school board election brings change to a school district, but this election represents a turning point for West Chester. Our students deserve a board that is committed to public education over ideology, and our residents understand that our property values stay strong when our community stays strong.

Joyce Chester, Robin Kaliner, Chris McCune and Ricky Swalm are determined to move the West Chester Area School District’s present ranking up to the highest performing district in the region.

Voting is your chance to stand up for the issues you believe in; do not skip it,

DECIDE and VOTE.

VOTE ON NOVEMBER 5TH FOR

CHESTER ● KALINER● McCUNE● SWALM

FOR WEST CHESTER AREA SCHOOL BOARD DIRECTOR

Polls are open 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.