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Eastern York school board
Six candidates are running for four seats on the school board of Eastern York School District in the 2015 Primary election on Tuesday, May 19. Region 1 has four candidates for three seats and Region 2 has two candidates for one seat.
The York Dispatch asked them to answer three questions and provide basic bio information to help voters with their selection.
Their responses are:
Christopher M. Gorny (R)
Todd Lentz (R)
Age/Family: I am 48 years old. Married and we have 6 children ages, 28, 24, 19, 17, 14 and 12. All have attended Eastern York School District.
Occupation: Presently I am employed as Senior Vice President of Business Development of a growing York county transportation company where I have worked for the past 19 years.
Education: I am a 1984 graduate of Eastern York School District.
Community organizations with which you are active:
Jason A. Malone (R/D)
Jonathon A. Shevelew (R)
Age/Family: 61 years old, York College and The Circle School of Harrisburg (education of children)
Occupation: Management Consultant
Education: College of Staten Island, CUNY
Community organizations with which you are active: President - Young Knights Youth Organization, Baseball Coach for PA Diamond Nine
Robert E. Flaharty Jr. (R/D)
Age/Family: I am 72 years old. I have 2 sons and 1 grandson who have gone to Eastern York.
Occupation: I am a retired manager and drive school bus.
Education: I have an associate degree in management from Penn State.
Community organizations with which you are active: I have lived my entire life in Eastern York School District except for 4 years of military service in the United States Air Force serving as a Pharmacist. I belong to Riverside 503 Masonic Lodge where I have served 3 times as Master of the Lodge. I served on Eastern School Board 6 years in the 1970s and 2 four year terms now for a total of 14 years.
James E. Reese (R)
Age/Family: I am 64. My four children graduated from Eastern York School District and two of my grandchildren currently attend.
Occupation: Retired school teacher
Education: 1968 graduated from Eastern York School District; 1972 graduated from York College with a BA degree; 1976 received my teaching certificate from York College; 2001 received a M.Ed from Wilkes University.
Community organizations with which you are active: Disaster Team member with the American Red Cross
Questions and answers
1. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the school district's performance at baalancing educational wants and needs, balancing the good of the students and the good of the taxpayers? Explain why you give the district that rating.
Gorny: No response.
Lentz: I would rate the school district's performance at balancing the students and taxpayers needs and wants at a strong 7. The system is not broken. Having six children that have attended or are currently attending Eastern York schools I have realized the commitment of our teachers and administration to meet the educational needs of the students. I have been fortunate to be a parent of children that learning was easy. I have also had the experience of a few of my kids that needed more attention than others; the commitment I have seen from our schools is commendable. New teaching methodologies in our changing times need to be well balanced to meet the demands of what the students today will need to become our next citizens. There is a need for a balance of new technologies and basic education fundamentals. Technology becoming more of a basic in our everyday life is ever changing and becomes expensive. I recall when I was a student the discussion revolved around our dated text books and how to afford the updates. We are faced with these same choices today possibly at a greater cost to our taxpayers.
Malone: No response.
Shevelew: 8 - The school district has done a good job in what have been very difficult times. They have worked hard to keep expenditures under control and in fact spending in the district has been flat for the past few years. At the same time, the administration has been very creative in maintaining reasonable class sizes despite staff reductions through attrition.
Flaharty: Eastern does a reasonably good job of balancing student needs with taxpayers I would say about a 7.
Reese: I give ALL districts a rating of 6 because public education is not reaching its full potential in preparing students for today and the future. The main focus of schools today is constantly testing students and collecting data on them and teaching to the PSSA tests. Is collecting all this data on the students cost-effective? Has this improved their knowledge so that they can be successful in today's society? Teachers spend too much time doing these tasks. They need to spend time developing lessons that will benefit their students; lessons that will allow students to learn at their own pace. The cost of bringing "experts" into our schools who tell us that we must change our curriculum to match what they believe to improve test scores. These experts believe that all kids will learn by "their method." They do not know what environment these children live in and what background these children have. Just because one thing works in one area does not mean it will work in every school district. We need to allow our teachers to spend time to get to know their students so that they can teach them at their own level and capability.
2. Specify a major issue facing the school district and explain how you think the school district should address that issue.
Gorny: No response.
Lentz: We have some serious issues facing the residents of our district. The combination of the districts growth and two of our aging elementary schools have the potential to burden our taxpayers in the future even more than today. It is a major concern of mine that as I talk with many of our senior residents, folks on fixed incomes who no longer are using the services that the school district provides. They can no longer stay in their homes, that they worked hard all their lives to pay off as the tax bill is forcing them from their homes. The task that is facing the school board in the coming years to mitigate these costs and responsibly approach these issues should be of as much a concern of the district's residents as anything that is happening in Harrisburg or in our national political races.
Malone: No response.
Shevelew: The major issue facing every school district in the state is funding. The current funding methodology unfairly places the community (especially the Seniors) at odds with the school system. Property taxes by their nature are regressive. They don't care what a family's income is when determining their share of school expenses. This problem needs to be addressed at the legislative level and the school district needs to continue applying pressure on our state representatives to fulfill their constitutional obligation to fund education.
Flaharty: Major issue is the PSERS retirement issue and our elected officials must take this issue by the horns and fix it. Many at the local level understand why it is so hard for them to fix it, but fix it they must and real soon.
Reese: One issue is the ages of Kreutz Creek and Canadochly Elementary Schools. Both buildings need major renovations. The issue is, should we build a new building to replace the old schools or should we renovate the old schools. The cost is similar for both options. I believe it is more prudent to build a new school since we already own the land because the older buildings will continue to need upgraded.
3. Why did you decide to run for election this year and why do you think you're one of the best candidates for a school board seat?
Gorny: No response.
Lentz: There is a great value of a quality education and our local school district provides that. Our local school board carries a large responsibility to ensure that this value holds true. The school board must remain focused in providing a quality education to all students. As a school board member I would work responsibly for the well being of the students, teachers and administrators while being mindful of our taxpayers and the burdens they carry.
In business we cannot operate outside our budgets, regardless of our wants. I have a proven track record of being fiscally responsible, making wise choices in business for the best outcome of our shareholders.
Malone: No response.
Shevelew: I have always worked on a volunteer basis to support education and recreational activities for children. When I heard that there was a vacancy on the board I saw an opportunity to continue those efforts and I'm grateful to the board members for
appointing me to fill that term. Prior to moving to Lower Windsor Township three years ago, I spent almost nine years as the Mayor of a New Jersey community. During that time I worked closely with the local school boards to ensure that our school systems would be first rate. I believe that my extensive experience in municipal government, public finance and education uniquely qualify me for the position and I'm glad to have the opportunity to contribute my expertise towards the continued success of our schools.
Flaharty: I believe my board experience and my dedication to Eastern York makes me the best person to fill this office.
Reese: With my grandchildren attending Eastern schools, I began to see how education was continuing to change and the focus was not on preparing the students for the future, but mostly on them taking tests. Also, I am concerned that we are not focusing on students and their individual needs, but rather on teaching one method to all students. Parents know that they cannot treat all of their children the same way, but must spend time with each of them to discover their strengths and weaknesses and help them enlarge their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. Teachers also need to spend "teaching" time with their students to get to know them better.
I have lived in the Eastern School District for over 60 years. I was an active member of the Hellam Fire Company for 40 years and an EMT with the Kreutz Creek Ambulance for 25 years. I taught 8th grade at Eastern for two years and coached basketball and served on the Eastern York School Board in the 1980's. I taught eighth-graders for 30 years. I also coached Hellam community basketball. I believe this background and experience gives me insight into what is best for our children.