7 seek 4 seats on Spring-Ford School Board

[ad_1]

Spring-Ford is a large school district spread over two counties whose board seats are divided into regions. Each region holds three seats and terms are staggered so the entire board is never up for election at the same time.

What follows are the responses from candidates in each region to The Mercury’s online election questionnaire in the order they were received.

Region 1 is comprised of the southern portion of Upper Providence Township. There is one seat open and no incumbent. Heidi Goldsmith won the Republican line in the spring primary and Karen Weingarten won the Democratic line.

Heidi Goldsmith

Heidi Goldsmith(Submitted photo)

Goldsmith, 47 lives on Von Steuben Drive in Collegeville.

She is an education attorney who has never before held elected office.

Goldsmith holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Minnesota and a law dree from Villanova Law School.

In her response, Goldsmith wrote she decided to run because “I am married with three children who attend Spring-Ford Area Schools: 4th  grade, 8th grade and 11th grade. I have over 20 years experience as an education attorney and I am also a small business owner. As an education attorney professionally serving the needs of children and families in the area of special education, I work in districts across the commonwealth. I will use my relationships in other school districts to bring Spring-Ford innovative programs that have proven success. As a small business owner, I know the importance of maintaining a fiscally responsible budget and I have the knowledge to bring the programs with proven success at the least cost. Advocating on behalf of all students has been part of who I am my whole life. I am committed passionate, transparent and I want to work on the Spring-Ford Area School Board to be a voice for the special needs community and all students in Spring-Ford.”

Given the chance to have one guaranteed accomplishment, Goldsmith wrote “I want to ensure our students with special needs have access to research-based programming and services while maintaining the Special Education budget-one of the top largest budget items- with fiscal responsibility. When a school district provides quality special education — all children benefit.

Karen Weingarten

Karen Weingarten(Submitted Photo)

Weingarten, 49, lives on Dorothy Circle in Royersford.

She works as “a senior digital strategy and communications lead for a fortune 500 company for over 17 years,” she wrote, adding, “I have professional experience managing multi-functional global teams and projects with multi-million-dollar budgets.”

Weingarten holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in instructional technology from Bloomsburg University

Although she has never held elected public office, Weingarten wrote that “I served eight years as the founder and chairperson of a Bloomsburg University alumni council. The council formalized a new network of 10,000+ alumni and advisors with the university to spearhead efforts around special events, scholarships, fundraising and defining formal, effective processes for campus organizations.

In her response, Weingarten wrote she is running because “this year showcased ongoing, escalating frustration in communication, planning, collaboration, and leadership. At times, the behavior at our meetings was incredibly embarrassing and immature. We deserve leaders who can understand our community’s and parents’ frustrations and deescalate situations in advance. I want to see the board talk about long-term ideas, planning and strategy, not knee-jerk reactions to issues of the day.”

Weingarten wrote that “my background in communications, project management, information architecture, and strategic planning will help the board become more deliberate instead of reactionary. I want to see enhanced communication with the public, dialogue with parents and teachers to better understand pain points and opportunities. I noted in the spring that I wanted to restore trust and make the board more approachable by clearly explaining how processes work, define where we are going, how will we get there, and how will we measure our progress along the way. This has become more apparent with each meeting”

She concluded, “providing the community with some perspective of how decisions are made, what factors into policy changes or how budgets are impacted, for example, can make a difference in the perception, and ultimately the reaction or support from our community. I’ve spent years as a volunteer and alumni leader at Bloomsburg University and enjoy making an impact on the community. I am a sensible, creative, rational, and thoughtful voice, capable of rebuilding trust, listening and advocating for families, our community, teachers and administrators. I’m a parent of three Spring-Ford students and recognize that all our children deserve tolerant, open-minded role models who can listen, observe, and reply with calculated, levelheaded, and reasonable solutions, creative ideas, and figure out ways to have productive discussions instead of futile arguments.”

Given one guaranteed accomplishment while in office, Weingarten chose more than one, “as a school board director, I will commit to restoring civility and ensuring parents and community members are comfortable and confident when approaching the board with new ideas, criticisms, proposals, frustrations, and initiatives. The current meeting atmosphere and online retaliation makes some people hesitant to approach the podium or Zoom mic during community comment. As a representative of our community, it is important to me to ensure the board is approachable and empathetic.”

She then wrote “for a true measurable accomplishment, I would like to see Spring-Ford finally adopt a plan to institute a full-day kindergarten program. Eighty-five percent of Pennsylvania schools currently offer full-day kindergarten. Understandably, funding and space are the primary reasons some districts don’t yet offer full-day programs. However, the benefit to working families, financially and logistically, is something worth planning for. Full-day kindergarten would impact every child with the luxury of more time to learn, practice, play, and explore. The full-day allows our teachers to dive deeper into individualized instruction, offer play-based learning, and more time for observations, screening, and evaluations. Currently, our kindergarten teachers can have upwards of 20-25 students per class twice each day. Speaking with young families in the district, this is something they want to talk about, plan for, and work with the state to figure out how to make it happen in our district. Realizing this is not something that can happen overnight, it is certainly something we can plan for and a legacy I would be proud to institute.”

Region 2 is the remaining portion of Upper Providence as well as the northern portion of Limerick Township. There is one seat open in this election and incumbent Clinton Jackson is the only candidate on the ballot.

Region 3 includes all of Royersford and Spring-City boroughs, as well as the southern portion of Limerick Township. There are two open seats and four candidates seeking them. The two candidates on the Republican ballot lines are incumbent Tom DiBello and Tom McMonigle. The two candidates on the Democratic ballot line are Abby Deardorff and Erica Hermans.

Tom McMonigle

Tom McMonigle(Submitted Photo)

McMonigle, 36, lives on Galie Way in Royersford.

He works as a senior director of accounting and holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Penn State University and has been a Certified Public Accountant since 2008.

He has never held elected office.

McMonigle wrote that he is running “to ensure our students are the main priority of the school district. Our children’s future is counting on us to provide them with the best education possible. As a father of two young children in the district, I want to set a good example for them on how to give back to the community. My professional background, which includes time spent auditing school districts financial statements, can provide a necessary skill set to the board. I believe I have the necessary skills, background, and leadership necessary to keep Spring-Ford moving in the right direction.”

Given one guaranteed accomplishment in office, McMonigle wrote “I am big on fiscal responsibility and transparency. I will…

[ad_2]

Read More: 7 seek 4 seats on Spring-Ford School Board