I had the pleasure to sit down with four of five Pottstown School Board candidates running as a group. Their slogan is “A new perspective built on experience.” We had a spirited discussion about the issues facing Pottstown School District, Pottstown Borough and where we need to head.
Andrew Kefer (Pottstown Planning Commission, Pottstown Community Land Trust)
Amy Francis (former Pottstown School Board member and Code Blue cofounder)
Michele Pargeon (current Pottstown School Board member and a volunteer with many community activities)
Mary-Beth Lydon (Community Land Trust, Code Blue)
Judyth Zahora (former Pottstown School Board member and Pottstown School District Treasurer) are running as a block of concerned citizens who support “public education in Pottstown” and are not looking to “save buildings”.
Our conversation touched on many subjects facing PSD. The school district’s financial sustainability is a core issue for the group. Pottstown has long relied on state and federal government funding. Those days are coming to an end. PSD needs to find more private funding and be open to new ideas in these trying economic times. Before these people would take office, if elected, the Task Force will have already made recommendations that will shape the school district’s future. This group will need to carry out the recommendations of the Task Force. Finding ways to increase efficiencies and working with the Borough of Pottstown to increase property values are key goals. Pottstown School District and Pottstown Borough share the same space and are thereby linked together. If one sneezes, the other catches cold.
Andrew Kefer, Mary-Beth Lydon and Michele Pargeon have lived in Pottstown for between 6 – 10 years. Amy Francis grew up in Pottstown and graduated from Pottstown High School. Judyth Zahora was unable to join us due to previously scheduled commitment, but her bio states she has lived in Pottstown for about 25 years and has been very involved with the PSD. Four of the five candidates have children in PSD. All are homeowners and have invested in Pottstown. These candidates want to improve the quality of life and educational opportunities for all residents of Pottstown.
Working for the common good, exploring possibilities and belief in Pottstown are qualities these five people have. This group wants to build up leaders for tomorrow. Today’s children are the future and will one day be running Pottstown. We need to create opportunities to keep our young people here and stop the brain drain. In order to accomplish this arduous task, people need to “leave their egos and politics at the door” and work for the betterment of the community. Being respectful, agreeing to disagree, civility, and being open to new ideas and different perspectives is the group’s strength.
A crucial issue is Pottstown’s eroding tax base and the already high taxes. PSD needs to work hand in hand with the borough to attract middle class residents, business and industry to Pottstown to stabilize neighborhoods, cut taxes and provide gainful employment for residents. The school district and the borough have started working more closely together and we hope this continues! These candidates would make sure this new-found cooperation does continue.
The group feels PSD needs to market itself better and emphasis its strengths, like PSD’s nationally recognized PEAK program. The district’s high transient rate creates extra challenges and cost. With a more stable population of homeowners, the transient rate would naturally decline. Economic development, revitalization, blight eradication and a vibrant downtown are needed to stabilize the tax base and the school district.
Many thanks to these candidates for taking time out of their Saturday morning to discuss the issues with Roy’s Rants. The primary is May 17, 2011. Educate yourselves on the issues and make sure to vote!
For more information about the candidates and their campaign you can check out their website at http://votefppe.org/