We believe that the district can do much more to engage with our community - parents, taxpayers, residents, and staff. Not everyone can attend an in-person board meeting and not everyone is comfortable speaking in public.
Many other school boards make better use of community and staff surveys, YouTube channels, and social media. The board should be more accessible to the community and use the community’s input to develop a forward-looking vision for the district.
Students learn best in a safe environment - safe from physical harm, safe from bullying, and safe to be themselves. As board members, we will make it a priority to provide the safest environment possible. We will also work to employ and retain the highest quality teachers, and leave the teaching to them, the experts. It will be our job to listen to teachers and administration, and meet their needs and recommendations to the best of our ability.
We believe the district should be run like a school, not a business. Our children are not products on an assembly line. We will scrutinize the district’s budget and question spending that does not benefit the students. Both students and taxpayers will benefit from a fresh set of eyes, rather than the status quo.
Taxes are up and SASD's rankings are down under the current board
so they don’t have to work a second job or use their own money for supplies
in providing age-appropriate and diverse books
other than for trained officers of the law
of our schools.
Our opponents are affiliated with
Moms for Liberty and the 3% militia group
Having all board discussions during public meetings - not back-room, closed-door decision making
Bringing families, schools, and communities together to make sure every child has what they need to learn and thrive
that has been unaddressed for too long
so that food is nutritious, appealing and plentiful - not just contracted out to the lowest bidder
of students who walk to school
We support parents as key contributors to their children’s education. Parents are the experts on the needs of their own children.
While there is always room for improvement, Souderton has made progress in the level of parental involvement over the years. Communication has gotten better from schools. Parents have many options to go into schools to volunteer, especially in the elementary and middle schools. Parents also have direct access to grades in the Home Access Center and assignment submissions through Schoology in the upper grades.
Souderton also already offers parents the ability to review curriculum and request alternatives for their children if they object to a specific book or assignment. We support this policy. One or several parents, however, should not have the right to decide what curriculum and books are appropriate for all students - this would be infringing on the rights of all other families in the SASD community.
The process for challenging curriculum materials should be easily accessible, transparent, and robust. An appropriate team that is a cross-section of roles and backgrounds should thoroughly review any challenged materials to make a decision.
There are many issues related to bathrooms in our district, predominantly in the high school and middle schools. Often bathrooms have inadequate toilet paper, soap, and inoperable facilities. Even more problematic are instances of vaping, drugs, sexual activity, fighting, vandalism, and just hanging out to text or create TikTok videos.
Bathrooms are repeatedly closed in an attempt to cut down on these issues, as current staff do not have the capacity to monitor the bathrooms as much as needed. Often, rule-following students feel that they can’t use the bathroom when necessary. A solution to improve these situations may be found by getting input from students in the schools where the issues are happening.
For the relatively small number of students who identify as transgender or gender fluid, using a bathroom for the gender with which they identify is important and affirming. We understand that this may make other students feel uncomfortable. A common sense solution would be to designate one or more bathrooms as gender neutral, to be used by anyone, and these facilities should be relatively conveniently located so that students are not missing out on classroom time in order to use them.
An important consideration is that school districts often become embroiled in lawsuits for not meeting the needs of students. If we don't provide adequate bathroom access for all, Souderton would be opening itself up to costly lawsuits.
Most would agree that books in schools should be age and developmentally appropriate. In terms of defining what is age and developmentally appropriate, our school librarians and educational professionals are the experts. Limiting access to books based on non-educational agendas is a slippery slope. In addition to educational content (e.g., textbooks), books provide youth a glimpse into a world beyond what they see every day – different places, people, methods of interacting, cultures, and so on.
By categorically removing books from our school libraries, we are at risk for creating knowledge gaps that could leave our children less prepared for our global society as adults. While we should certainly respect individual parent and student decisions to refrain from reading specific content, it is not appropriate or responsible to impose these same restrictions on all students and families.
Author Jodi Picoult says my philosophy better than I can express: “There is absolutely nothing wrong with a parent deciding a certain book is not right for her child. There is a colossal problem with a parent deciding that, therefore, no child should be allowed to read that book.”
Books allow us to understand, not only ourselves, but others…. Books allow us to see the world within the safety of our own home. They open our world to others' lives, realities, experiences. Books grow our empathy and emotional intelligence. Books expand our horizons.
Let the experts decide what appropriate literature is for students. Our district librarians are highly qualified professionals who hold Masters degrees in Library Science. Teachers are trained to differentiate learning. If a parent has concerns about a particular book or assignment for their child, they can request an alternative assignment.
It is my own experience as a teacher that such requests are listened to carefully and are usually honored.
I support the right of parents to express their concerns over specific assignments given to their child. A parent may take a book out of their own child’s hands, but I do not believe the parent has the right to take the book away from any other child.
I’ve spent most of my adult life in the service of our country as a member of the US military. Our great nation is built on the principles of free speech, liberty, and independent thinking. Existing policies balance our American principles with the goals of age-appropriate content and analytical thinking.
Sadly, a well-funded and carefully choreographed attack on public education has been masquerading as a group of concerned parents. While many well-intentioned people may have been misled into believing they are removing dangerous content from schools and libraries, the fact is that these measures are already in place, and students are not being exposed to inappropriate content. This is an Astro-turf campaign, and school directors who prioritize the health and wellbeing of their students, teachers, and families need to call it out as such, and stand up to the bullies.
Books that teach real history and show our diversity are nothing to fear. Our district has policies in place for curriculum review, and a good school director needs to make sure these policies and procedures are transparent by communicating with community members to make sure they know the appropriate avenues to pursue to question curricular materials.
Parents have the right to read curriculum at the district office, and a parent may choose to request alternative assignments for their children when they object to a specific book or assignment. In my decades of experience in public education, I’ve found that schools go to great lengths to meet these requests. While parents may decide for their own children, they do not have the right to decide for all of us, nor can they infringe on the rights of all students in the community to a diverse, inclusive, safe, and robust education.
I currently work in a matrix-based environment with cross-functional teams; establishing and maintaining positive working relationships is critical to the success of my job. Relative to the school board, setting the stage for a positive working relationship needs to start on Day 1. It will be important to get to know each School Board Director as a “person” and not just as a colleague.
I would propose to meet with each Director individually to get to know them, hear their perspectives on key issues, learn from their history on the board (if incumbent), and build a relationship based on trust and mutual respect. This way when there are inevitably issues on which we may disagree, we will have a firm foundation to rely on for support.
Our children’s education is not a political issue, but it certainly seems that recently, the divisiveness and politics has increased.
If we focus on what is best for our students, and leave the teaching to the professionals and TRUST our professionals to do their best, that premise is a solid foundation on which to build relationships.
I believe the board SHOULD have some diversity of thought; different points of view can broaden everyone’s horizons. I like to believe that I am open-minded and flexible and would reflect those qualities as a board member.
Incumbents have valuable knowledge of process and institutional practice. I believe that anyone on a school board wants the school district to succeed and I would always look for common ground. I believe a new board member needs to listen, learn and make connections wherever possible. When my opinions differ from current board members I would act respectfully but would not hesitate to express my views and would vote accordingly.
At the risk of understatement in my capacity as a US Veteran, I know the indispensable value of teamwork.
I believe in building bridges, not barriers. I believe this goal is best accomplished through diligent effort and honesty. I like people, strive to get along with everyone, and have worked with people from all backgrounds and walks of life.
In addition to coordinating very large departments for my school district, I’ve also held several leadership roles in our community, serving as a board member for Christ Lutheran Church and Souderton Area for All in addition to volunteering as a committee person in Lower Salford and a building rep for the NPEA. These are all positions where working with a group of people is essential to getting things done.
I’ve learned a lot from my committee positions and board memberships, and I firmly believe that a school board needs diversity of thought to ensure all the needs of our students and our community are being carefully considered. Our current board very frequently votes 9-0 with very little public discussion. I believe a board that is able to respectfully disagree, discuss, and question and learn from each other is necessary for a strong school district.
I will make it a priority to listen to our community and make sure their questions are being asked in board discussions on the public record. There is nothing quite like working in public education to help an individual learn to see multiple different perspectives, and this might be the biggest gift I’ve been given from over two decades of teaching.
In my current employment, I am responsible for ensuring we gather and incorporate patient feedback when developing new medications for deadly diseases. As part of this work I am tasked with hiring and overseeing vendors who conduct interviews with patients. In this role I review and manage multi-million dollar budgets, ensure we do not exceed our budget limit, and provide status updates to leaders and stockholders. This work positions me well to review and offer suggestions for streamlining the SASD district budget.
The SASD budget is currently in a significant deficit. My top priority related to the budget would be to have a deep dive review, line by line, of the budget and ensure all spending is necessary for the benefit of the students.
A major professional role I held for 15 years was as a financial planner. I helped individuals plan their financial security. In addition to personal financial planning, I worked with my church in various leadership roles which grew into larger responsibilities in the broader diocesan community.
As a department leader in my teaching career, I prepared budget requests for over 25 years. I am experienced in the school district budget process. I also know that in Pennsylvania, school boards are faced with mandates and fixed expenses that leave little room for discretionary spending. Approximately 85% of the costs are beyond the control of local school boards and Act 1 restricts the ability of school boards to raise taxes beyond a set percentage each year.
My top priority is student centered spending. I believe it is prudent for me to wait to make suggestions on the actual Souderton budget until I am on the Board and go through the process. I will count on the administration, the business manager and the incumbent board members to assist me in my learning process.
I have public and private sector experience overseeing budgets valued in the millions of dollars.
Better budget deliberation clarity would be a priority. The format, board meeting structure, and materials presently available to constituents are ambiguous at best.
The budget meeting atmosphere and content must change. Too much energy is spent on discussions that do little to further the interests of our community and are best addressed in Harrisburg. I want to keep the conversation on relevant matters.
In addition, I am acquainted with more than just the financial implications of leadership; previous responsibilities have required me to assess and balance non-monetary considerations such as at-risk human life and liberty.
During the years I spent as Learning Coordinator for English 7-12 and Technology Education, I oversaw very large budget lines for these departments at five different schools. Part of the job of coordinating these areas for such a large school district involved crafting a budget that would meet the needs of the department chairs while staying in line with the overall goals of the Chief Financial Officer and the business department.
Creating a responsible and responsive budget is heavily rooted in listening. I will make it a priority to listen to our community. I will push for accountability, particularly in areas where health and safety are concerned. In a district that receives as much state and federal funding as we have over the past two years, it is inexcusable how frequently our bathrooms have no soap or paper towels (or are closed altogether), how often the hand sanitizing stations are empty, or how regularly students report unsatisfactory conditions with the school food.
These are issues we can solve by working together and taking the honest input from our students and the families. Also among my top priorities are attracting and maintaining a diverse and talented workforce and supporting district administration to bring our district’s academic ratings back.
Souderton Area School District is a community, and the Souderton Charter School Collaborative is part of that community. We support the whole community’s public school students. There are 230 students at the charter school getting a good education.
But, importantly, we also support charter funding reform - and that has to happen at the state level.
As school board members, we would like to keep an open dialog with the charter school. Communication and shared knowledge is important in a healthy community.
We know there is work to do, but the issues that many of our neighbors associate with the charter school must be tackled with state legislation - they aren’t issues that fall within what a school board is able to do.