1. Please tell us a little about yourself (family, children, where you grew up, educational background, career path, etc).
My name is John McMullan and I am a thirteen year resident of the Westbrook Park Section of Upper Darby Township where I reside with my wife and children. I received both my undergraduate and master’s degrees from Temple University. I am currently employed as the Assistant Director of Community Development for Upper Darby Township. In my position, I am responsible for managing the Township’s community capacity funding, as well as working with the business community on economic development strategies.
2. Why are you running for School Board?
I decided to run for school board because I care about the community and want to ensure it continues to grow and remains a great place to raise my family. I look forward to supporting the dedicated administrators, teachers, staff and students of the Upper Darby School District by contributing my time, talents and passion to help our students achieve education excellence and grow into productive citizens while maintaining the tax impact on our homeowners.
3. What do you see as the strengths of the Upper Darby community, and separately, the School District?
There are many strengths in the Upper Darby Community including; pride in neighborhoods, a diverse population and resources for all ages.
Upper Darby Township is a vibrant community that is experiencing a burst of economic development. The Township is a great place to live, work and raise a family.
Similar to the community, the district administrators, teachers and staff demonstrate a strong sense of pride in their schools and a commitment to our children. The culturally rich and diverse student population offered unique opportunities and despite limited funding that is significantly less than the state average on a per student basis, the district students are still offered a strong curriculum that will prepare them for success after high school.
4. What do you see as areas of concern or needed growth of the Upper Darby community, and separately, the School District?
Tough economic times have forced some residents to default on their mortgages and walk away from their homes. Additionally our homeowner residents should not be forced to be the primary source of school district funding. The property tax is regressive. Unfair real estate taxes and unoccupied homes may deter prospective residents and prospective businesses from moving into the Township. I believe a strong community together with a flourishing school district adequately funded by the state and federal government promotes stable home ownership and stable business development.
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.
- Severe financial pressures facing the district – None is more difficult than the weight of unfunded mandates from the state and federal government. The state and federal governments make promises and our school board is expected to ask the local taxpayers to pay for them. A primary example of this is Charter Schools which take money directly from our schools and reallocates the funds to private concerns. At a minimum, Charter Schools should be required to compete on the same playing fields as public schools, and in no case should public tax money be taken away from the public school system.
- Improve Student Achievement – Although an increasing number of the district students excel (as evidenced by the constant number of students mastering Advanced Placement classes), there remains an achievement gap that may be attributed to the district’s ever changing demographics. Teachers need to be afforded adequate time and resources to collaborate across all content areas and grade levels to review student’s work and analyze achievement data so that students can reach individual and district wide goals.
- School Safety – In light of recent national events, now more than ever, it is of the utmost importance for the district, parents and community to ensure that all children are provided a safe learning environment. I will continue to support the efforts of the district’s Safety Department and their collaboration with local law enforcement agencies.
6. Please talk about three critical issues you would like to see the School District address over the next couple of years.
I will support the administration and the Central Registration Department in their continued efforts to eliminate students falsely claiming residency in our community in order to attend a school in the District. These false claims negatively impact the hardworking taxpayers that make up the great community of Upper Darby.
I will add my support to the current school board directors, the administration, teachers and staff in reaching out in an effort to involve families in the learning and growing process of their student(s).
I will add my support to the ongoing efforts of the current school board directors until actual financial relief is experienced by the tax payers of the district. Just as the current board, I will be committed to communicating the nature of our financial burden and request cooperation from our representatives at the local, state and federal government levels.
7. Is there anything else you would like the voting community to know about you?
I am involved in many youth oriented and community activities such as: the Westbrook Park Youth Athletic Association, the Upper Darby Police Athletic League, and as a board member of the Upper Darby Senior Center. I talk to people of all ages and they want the same thing, a safe learning environment for our children so they can have a well rounded education which will form the foundation for them to be the leaders of the next generation. I think the teachers, administrators and staff in the Upper Darby School District have done an excellent job during very difficult times and I will do my best to make sure that they continue to have the tools necessary to achieve individual and District wide educational goals while remaining fiscally responsible to our taxpayers