1. Please tell us a little about yourself (family, children, where you grew up, educational background, career path, etc).
Born and raised in South Philadelphia, I moved to Upper Darby 18 years ago to provide a better quality of life for my family. I have been married going on 25 years to my best friend Dawn Marie. I have four children and five grandchildren, two children in the Upper Darby High School, Earl a senior and Naylah a sophomore. I graduated from Temple University, where I focused on Therapeutic Recreation. For over fifteen years I focused on helping the physically and mentally challenged and developmentally delayed. I also served as assistant director of admissions at a private college and have served the Upper Darby community as a school board director since 2009.
2. Why are you running for School Board?
I am running for school board to maintain and strengthen our educational system. I want to ensure that all of our students continue to have the resources available to gain a well rounded education, which will allow them equal opportunity to secondary education and an abundance of career choices. I am seeking re-election so I can continue to advocate for our children, educators, support staff and equally important our tax payers. I plan to maintain the district’s integrity during these tough economic times while maintaining high curriculum standards and sound fiscal accountability.
3. What do you see as the strengths of the Upper Darby community, and separately, the School District?
We have a unique township and school district. I believe the strength of the Upper Darby community is the school district. Our students are more prepared for secondary education and equipped for career options because of the well balanced and diverse education they received in our school district. Our community success relies on the success of our school district capability to educate our students and cultivate the relationships with the community leaders and the township.
4. What do you see as areas of concern or needed growth of the Upper Darby community, and separately, the School District?
Safety, taxes and the integrity of the community are my main concerns for the district and the community. Working together with the township will ensure that all the students, educators and the community are safe on and off school grounds.
Our community has seen our taxes rise over the past three years because of to the lack of funds from the state and federal governments. In the past three years alone, the district has seen a $37 million dollar deficit and the citizens have endured a tax increase of over 10%.The Upper Darby community continues to exhibit tenacious resolve, but our tax payers deserve a break from Harrisburg and Washington. The mandates continue to come but the funds do not.
In tough times the district had to make tough choices. Unfortunately, the state forces the district to make those choices. The district has done so while maintaining world class programs and academic excellence while retaining some of the top educators in the Delaware Valley. I intend to preserve the standards that our community is accustomed.
5. Please talk briefly about what you see as three important priorities for education reform at a policy level and your position on these issues.
The three issues I have with education reform are the states formula for school funding, Charter school mandates and underfunded mandates such as special education. Our state has not updated the education formula since the early 1990’s and it appears that the playing field is not leveled. School districts that are in more affluent areas are appropriated funds in the same manner as the more economically challenged districts.
Charter school funding continues to devour funding that would normally come to our school district. Charter schools operate with little if any accountability.
An underfunded mandate like special education has not allowed districts to adequately fund services without an adverse effect on regular education. Our school district continues to evaluate the services provided for regular and special education; however the state continues to impose mandates without little or no funding.
6. Please talk about three critical issues you would like to see the School District address over the next couple of years.
Safety of our students and the community is always at the forefront of my list of priorities. A safe environment fosters a more conducive learning environment. Yearly re-enrollment will ensure that the district is educating students from the Upper Darby community only and that our tax dollars are working properly.
I support annual reviewing and re-evaluating each school’s capacity to allow for educators to teach students at the optimal level without overcrowding classrooms. Lastly, over the next few years our district will have to regularly update the district’s curriculum and technology. We are in difficult economic times and with yearly budget deficits it is imperative that our district maintain and achieve world class standards to produce critical and analytical thinkers.
7. Is there anything else you would like the voting community to know about you?