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Northern school board
Three candidates are running for two seats on the region 2 school board of Northern York County School District in the 2015 Primary election on Tuesday, May 19.
The York Dispatch asked them to answer three questions and provide basic bio information to help voters with their selection.
Their responses are:
Ann Hoverter (R/D)
Age/Family: 45; Husband Troy, Northern graduate; two daughters, Taylor, 8th grade at Northern Middle School and Alisa 4th grade at Northern Elementary School.
Occupation: Employed by Milton Hershey School in the Construction, Facilities and Technical Services Department.
Education: 1988 Northern graduate
Community Organization: NYCSD Board member, 2011-present; Girl Scout Troop Leader; NES PTO Volunteer; Volunteer at Farmers Fair Fun Day; Volunteer at Project Big Love 717; Field Trial Secretary Susquehanna Brittany Club
Harvey J. Kutz (R/D)
Age/Family: Wife: Jody Kutz. Children: I have no current children attending Northern York school District. Our 5 children are currently attending college or have graduated from college. Shawna Ott: Graduate of Messiah College, Tara Ott: Graduate of Westminster College, Morgan Kutz: Attending Susquehanna University, Sarah Kutz: Attending Saint Francis University and graduate of Northern York, Michael Kutz: Attended University of Pittsburgh and HACC.
Occupation: Mathematics Teacher
Education: Westminster College, B.A., Wilkes University, M.S Ed., Temple University, Principal Certification
Community organizations with which you are active:
Elisabeth Grinder McLean (R/D)
Age/Family: I am 52 years old and I have two children in the district. One child is in Northern Middle School and the other is attending Northern High School.
Occupation: Early Childhood Specialist for the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy at Penn State University
Education: Ph.D. in Education from Penn State University; M.S. in Child Psychology from Penn State University.
Community organizations with whick you are active: Girl Scout volunteer, H.S. Booster Club member, current School Board Director, volunteer for several community events (i.e., Project Big Love, Farmer's Fair)
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.
Hoverter: On a scale from 1-10 I would rate NYCSD as a 7 in its performance on balancing the educational wants and needs of the students and the good of the taxpayers. Over the last four years, I have worked with the Administration to maintain high quality programs and curriculum. My goal is to offer students the best opportunities and still be fiscally responsible in our decisions. Continued improvement will result from the board ensuring that fact based decision making about what is best for students is guiding the direction of the district. We continue to be creative with our resources; build partnerships with the community and be transparent in our decisions and the future of our district. I will continue to advocate for fiscal responsibility to find the balance between keeping our taxes as low as possible, while keeping our schools high performing.
Kutz: In my book, Northern ranks exceptional. I used PDE 2012-2013 school data to support my opinion as well as first hand knowledge of the district.
A. 100 percent of district teachers are highly qualified.
B. Northern has a General Fund balance of over 8 million dollars or about 17 percent of expenditures.
C. PSSA and Keystone test results are in line with local & state expectations.
D. Facilities (district buildings) are outstanding as well as athletic programs and facilities.
E. Opportunities for advanced placement coursework is available for students.
McLean: I think the school board would rate an 8 on the job it has done balancing the needs of the students and taxpayers. We need to maintain high quality staff and programs while simultaneously ensuring fiscal responsibility to the community. During the 8 years I have been on the board, I have done everything possible to maintain the programs necessary to prepare our children for their future while minimizing tax increases. We collaborate with the administration every year to maintain academics, sports, arts, and extracurricular activities at a high level. When asked to choose between cutting programs/staff or raising taxes, I have tried to change the conversation to one of looking for creative options to minimize the impact. Recently, we increased available programs and teachers without increasing the budget through creative use of online educational opportunities. In all cases, we carefully weigh all of the options and determine which one would be best to ensure our children receive a well-rounded academic career without sacrificing the key features that provide the foundation for elementary school success as well as later success in secondary school and beyond.
2. Specify a major issue facing the school district and explain how you think the school district should address that issue.
Hoverter: I feel the main issue facing NYCSD is budget constraints. Similar to most districts, we also face the PSERS retirement requirements, yet in my four years as a school board member, we have used our resources in the most efficient and effective way. By being fiscally responsible and focusing on what is in the best interest of our student body, we have managed to maintain our current programs and introduce new course selections.
Kutz: Most school districts in Pennsylvania struggle with salary & benefits. Northern is no different. Pension reform seems to the buzzword these days. I do like the idea framed in House Bill 861 which will soon be introduced by Representative Peter Daley from Fayette & Washington Counties. This bill provides early retirement incentives for teachers with over 30 years experience, which in turn gives school districts the opportunity to hire younger teachers at reduced salary. Please do not misinterpret that I believe we should encourage our veteran staff to retire. This must be an individual choice made by the staff member and what is best for them. I believe our veteran staff is what makes Northern unique. I have witnessed first hand that the teachers/staff have genuine love for their school, students and community.
McLean: I believe a major issue facing NYCSD is budgetary. All districts are faced with the rising PSERS retirement contribution rate, which inevitably affects district programming. However, during the 8 years I have been on the School Board, I believe NYCSD has been fiscally responsible in their ability to meet this demand, yet simultaneously maintaining high quality programs and staff. The district has continued to fund and preserve programs through sound decision making by the Board and administration. My primary goal continues to be that our district prepares our students for college and/or career by providing a broad range of educational opportunities and extra-curricular activities.
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?
Hoverter: I am a current board member seeking re-election. I decided to run for re-election because I currently have two children that attend Northern. I am a very involved parent concerned about the education of my children. I want to give back to the community, influencing the lives of not only my children but the children in our district. My experience on the board has provided me with an understanding of the district's finances and operations. I will continue to make good decisions for the benefit of our district and the taxpayers. I am proud that my children are the third generation to attend NYCSD. I have personally seen the growth and change in our community and take great pride in the district and the educational opportunities we continue to offer to our students. I believe I am the best suited to represent the voice of my constituents because I listen and seek answers before I make decisions.
Kutz: I have acquired over 34 years of experience as a teacher, principal, coach and parent in public school systems. I have a passion for learning, our public educational system and a selfless desire "to give back," utilizing my education, experience and institutional knowledge. I understand the school budgeting process as well as most procedures the school board encounter each month. Volunteering my time to the students of Northern York schools is a perfect fit for me as I have been involved in public education my entire career. I have direct supervisory and educational experience and can provide leadership, understanding and insight, which would be beneficial for the stakeholders of our community. I make decisions that are educated, practical and based upon current research that has been proven to be successful (based on best educational practices), that will ultimately benefit our children. I have dedicated my professional life to education and now I want to give back to my community in a capacity that I truly understand.
McLean: I am re-running for School Board Director this year because I want to continue the positive impact I have made in NYCSD over the last 8 years. During my tenure on the Board, we have been fiscally responsible, yet continued to ensure that excellent programs and staff are maintained in our district. I believe I am the best candidate because of my background and experience working in the education field, my past experience on the board, and my personal reasons for running. I have a Doctorate in Education from Penn State University. I have worked in the education field for 24 years and I currently work for PSU teaching courses in early reading development and parent engagement in the schools. Second, I have been on the board for 8 years and I have always voted and supported issues that ensure students in the district receive broad educational and extra-curricular opportunities. As for my personal reasons, I have two children who have attended NYCSD schools. I want all of the children within this district to receive a high quality education and to have a variety of opportunities available to them as they proceed through school.