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2019 primary election: Lehighton Area School Board

Published May 18. 2019 05:58AM

Barb Bowes

Background: Volunteer officer on two boards of directors. A resident of Mahoning Township for 15 years. Full-time associate at Giant. Mother of two, grandmother of three. Believe in researching all sides of any issues and making educated decisions based on all facts. Able to work with others in a respectful manner. I believe in open and honest government and listening to the community. Believe a well-rounded quality education for students is paramount.

Q: What are your top three priorities if elected?

A: Balancing the budget without cutting programs, teachers or reducing any current educational offerings while looking to provide more educational benefit to students through cutting waste and becoming more efficient where possible.

Provide an open, honest district that seeks input from all in the community. Students, parents, staff and taxpayers. Lawful operation of the district.

End division in the district by being inclusive to all and being available to discuss any concerns.

Q: How would you ensure transparency while protecting student privacy?

A: Adhere to all applicable state and federal laws concerning privacy. Being transparent does not mean compromising the privacy of anyone. Providing transparent government while strictly adhering to privacy laws is by no means unreasonable. Transparent government reduces fund expenditures in many areas and will free up funds to provide more educational opportunities for students. Running an efficient, respectful, fair and open district will enhance education for the students and should always be the goal.

Q: How would you balance fiscal responsibility with providing a quality education?

A: Fiscal responsibility and providing quality education is not mutually exclusive. Oversight of finances, attention to detail and using common sense to make decisions go a long way in this area. Quality education takes place in the classrooms, and educational dollars should be targeted there. Reducing waste in other areas will free up resources that can be focused on curriculum and the delivery of same. All programs are important to a well-rounded, quality education.

Nathan Foeller

Background: I’ve spent the last 10 years as a business owner, and I’ve owned and operated the Minuteman Press in Stroudsburg for the last six years. As a business owner and lifelong learner, I have experience in a variety of areas that will prove valuable as a board member. I have a bachelor’s degree and years of experience in ministry and teaching. I am a 15-year Lehighton resident with three children in the district.

Q: What are your top three priorities if elected?

A: With a goal of no tax increases, continue to make constant, incremental improvements in the education offered in our district.

2. Provide students with a well-rounded education, including electives and extra-curriculars and ensuring that students planning to enter a career or trade have the opportunity to learn the skills they need.

3. Provide growth opportunities for staff and foster an environment where our great teachers can thrive.

Q: How would you ensure transparency while protecting student privacy?

A: Transparency in government is both important and healthy. However, when multiple state and federal regulations (which sometimes contradict each other) govern the release of information, I believe that we must err on the side of caution and wisely protect student and staff privacy. Apart from the privacy concern, I support making district information not only available, but easily accessible.

Q: How would you balance the need for fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer with providing a quality education to the students?

A: I certainly start with the goal of not increasing taxes. Fiscal responsibility and quality education need not be mutually exclusive, and I will support ways to improve the quality of education in an affordable manner. Long-term planning rather than emergency spending can help avoid many financial problems. Balance here is key, and every decision must be weighed by comparing the cost to the benefit provided to the students.

Rita Spinelli

Background: I have seven years of school board experience and more than 30 years of bookkeeping experience. I have been active in the Lehighton School District in many capacities since 1985. Maintaining the current quality of an education from LASD with a constant eye to improvement is my only campaign promise.

Q: What are your top three priorities if elected?

A: Keeping up with the changes in educational laws, norms and innovations. Maintaining a workable budget with no or minimal tax increases. Continuing to work on good relationships between directors, administrators, staff, students, parents and the community.

Q: How would you ensure transparency while protecting student privacy?

A: I would do my best to ensure transparency without violation of personal privacy. I do, however, put a greater value on personal privacy. Transparency should be practiced until it crosses the line to invasion of personal privacy. I feel that legislators need to establish where Right to Know, Sunshine Law, FERPA, HIPAA etc. rank in the decisions a school board must make. In the end, I will follow the law.

Q: How would you balance the need for fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer with providing a quality education to the students?

A: Fiscal responsibility means different things to different people. My first priority will always be relevant programs. Staffing for those programs as well as providing a safe and productive environment in which to teach our children is my idea of fiscal responsibility.

Larry Stern

Background: A lifelong resident of the Lehighton community. I earned a bachelor’s degree from Lycoming College and am employed in the information technology industry with a focus in human resources. I possess 12 years experience serving as member of the LASD Board along with 10 years experience representing Lehighton as member of the LCCC Board of Trustees and served on many different committees. My roots are in this community, from here … for here.

Q: What are your top three priorities if elected?

A: Continuous improvement in all programs provided by the district coinciding with a focus on fiscal responsibility.

2. District stabilization. Many changes have occurred recently in all facilities, grade realignment, implementation of the elementary center, Pre-K counts, LEAP (Lehighton Alternative Education Pathway) and traditional scheduling to name a few.

3. Enhance opportunities for staff development.

Q: How would you ensure transparency while protecting student privacy?

A: Transparency from the business operations standpoint of the district is available to all seeking the information. Transparency with regard to the private personal information of the students and staff is where the line must be drawn as there is no need for this type of data to become public. Personal information laws are in place to protect students and staff against the release of this information, I will abide by the law to protect them.

Q: How would you balance fiscal responsibility with providing a quality education?

A: Fiscal responsibility is doing the right things at the right time with an eye on the impact to the student and to the community. As with any educational expenditure, the question needs to be asked of the benefit or of the detriment to the students, then determine whether or not to proceed based on the impact.

Wayne Wentz

Background: I was born and raised in Lehighton along with my entire family. I also am a veteran who has served 13 months in Vietnam. I volunteered 35 years with the Franklin Township Athletic Association. I have faithfully served on the Lehighton school board for 12 years. Experience does matter. I hope to continue with other hometown team members Rita Spinelli, Larry Stern, Nathan Foeller and honor Frank Ruch. I wish to continue to provide top quality education without cutting programs and still be financially responsible to the Lehighton taxpayers.

Q: What are your top three priorities if elected?

A: Quality student education, hold the line on taxes, and student safety.

Q: How would you ensure transparency while protecting student privacy?

A: I believe in transparency but not when it involves the private information of our students, parents or staff.

Q: How would you balance fiscal responsibility with providing a quality education?

A: I always will try to maintain an affordable budget and still continue to provide quality education for our students.

Walter Zlomsowitch

Background: Born in Lehighton Hospital, raised in Mahoning Township. Currently resides in East Penn Township. Engaged to Jeanette Pupko. Have a daughter, Kayla; son, Waylon and stepdaughter, Lucy. Owns K and K Oil Co. for 20 years. Former Realtor.

Q: What are your top three priorities if elected?

A: 1. Heal our district by respecting all directors and their opinions and concerns. 2. Include our community in all decisions which will burden them financially. I would not vote to build a new middle school on the complex during my term. 3. Make sure the kids have the tools necessary to learn and not cut any current programs but possibly expand on the Band, Music and the Arts.

Q: How would you ensure transparency while protecting student privacy?

A: The law is clear it is unlawful to expose HIPAA and other personal information. Redaction Software has been discussed and I think the RTK Officer should be included in discussions to be sure while being transparent we are not breaking the law. This should protect all students, teachers, employees, etc.

Q: How would you balance fiscal responsibility with providing a quality education?

A: A quality education starts in the classroom. If we have the best teachers we can afford along with the right tools our kids can be successful. In todays world we need to fund CCTI and promote trade school to the students.

The following candidates did not submit responses to the questions: Richard Beltz, Craig Bowman, Tom McEvilly and Byron Schnell. Franklin Ruch, who was killed in a crash April 15, is also listed on the ballot.

Comments
Seems to me lehighton has 2 choices vote for the team the teachers and administrators want and have your taxes skyrocket. Or vote for the other side who doesn’t want to raise taxes but will probably have to because of the current boards past decisions. School teachers and administrators do not care if the property taxes go up because it will Benefit them in the long run. They will tell you it’s all about the kids but it’s really only about them. The children and the tax payers are the only people that will suffer.
It is interesting that only two of the Build a Board candidates chose to take the time and commitment to answer this questionnaire.. so much for transparency and investment in the district. Where Mr. Zlomoswitch every got the idea of a new middle school is beyond comprehension, as the Middle school has just been renovated with state of the art accommodations... that is a fact. When you vote on Tuesday, May 21st, please remember you are making decisions for board members to carry out their obligations as decision makers not carrying out everyone's whims and wishes. No doubt, the district will need to take a hard look at finances while maintaining a strong educational environment. Vote for those who have the most common sense to be pro active in the future and address the challenges head on, not those who choose to forgo understanding the past or choose to make false assumptions while taking things out of context. Just remember that Your vote counts on May 21st.
No matter how the hometown team tries to spin it the budget shortfall is a direct result of their bad decisions. If they win this election we can expect more of the same. They don’t mind raising your taxes cause it’s for the kids and we can’t possibly vote against the kids that would make us horrible people. The truth I will vote so my struggling elderly family members don’t lose their homes.
Heyman, I do not give a crap what those IDIOTS think I cannot wait to vote out all those morons that built those schools and the fafafafootball stadium. So I can vote easily against them because if we pay 1 cent in taxes we are paying to much!
Community,

Good afternoon. Here is an idea.
Let's hold the incumbents accountable.

So, Rita, Wayne, and Larry: Why do your statements contradict most of your actions?
Why did rubber stamping the administration take precedence over student safety?

This government has a legacy of debt, it spends more that it takes in, budget shortfalls, budget in the $40M+, up 30%.

Larry, Wayne: why didn't you two vote to repair the required safety items in our schools when you were told the repairs were required??
Why did you raise taxes with a surplus?
Your actions seem to contradict your political replies.

Larry why did you file a plea of immunity from the law? Are you above the law?

The three: Rita, Wayne and Larry, all voted to spend educational funds to pass a SLAPP Resolution. Student's first or your vendetta against transparency? How was that resolution a legal use of school funds for education?

Wayne, you are a veteran, you faught to defend the constitution, thank you for your service. We need a fighter in our domestic government. Why does this board ignore those laws in our domestic government you traveled oversees to defend? How can you sit there and just ignore the oath of office? Not a rant, just a few questions for the sake of accountability.

Rubber stampers should not be reelected.

Just my opinion, of course. My experienced opinion from watching and documenting the actions of our local government these past ten years. God bless a government of, by, and for the people. Let's elect one that meets that standard. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.

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