A: Protecting students with armed guards and police is one of many different options that can be used to provide safety to our students. As a School Board member, I would talk over this option with those in law enforcement who have a lot of experience in the area. Also, I would like to be referred to schools that already use this practice or have used the practice and changed. If the practice is successful elsewhere and recommended, I would insist that we go through the local police to hire and supervise any individuals and they would not work directly for the school. That being said I would be affecting you by having your police force take up this duty. The school does not have the expertise to oversee hiring, training or continuing certifications required for these positions. As this becomes a fiscal burden, we would need to see the best way to fund. As we are both taxing agencies this ultimately becomes a taxpayer burden but one the taxpayers would most likely accept. I am making the assumption you are asking that this is in addition to increased security measures to stop insider threats and intruder threats both of which have very different methods of protection. The above is an indirect way of stating I would like to dig further into the issue before I would go yes or no. Where has it been used. What have been the pro and cons of the practice? As far as providing security for institutions, I directed the design, installation and testing of the Limerick Generating Station security system back in the 1980’s so I have some knowledge in the area.
2 Q: Can you please explain how our district can get the funds to cover keeping Pine Forge open without raising our taxes. How much will it cost and how do you propose we fix the building to make it a safer school for staff and students?
A: First, you get the money by looking at where you have fat in the budget. You also see what you can defer. Are there items that can be scaled down. Obviously, we have deferred maintenance when we should not have. If we had done our work in the past correctly and followed the stadium repair option the money would be there now. However, we chose to build a stadium with full knowledge some schools need work. I too like a great new stadium but we need to make the right prioritization of our needs. The figure I have been given is 1.8 million to bring the school to standard. That would infer to me that an engineering study has already been performed as to requirements. I am not sure if that also includes previously allocated money for the air conditioning. That is a far cheaper option than building a new facility, As I ride around, despite statements to the contrary, our area is growing. Class sizes are already at 28-29 in some cases and this would not make that better. The school has not been deemed unsafe at any time and if you feel it is, you should approach the board with data showing this fact. I would not want anyone going into an unsafe building. I have talked many times to Pine Forge parents and none have ever expressed a safety concern. Also, I have been to the building and nothing stood out. A new school costs well in excess of 50 million and even the extensions to existing schools, i believe it was Colbrookdale, was 26 million. I am not going to tell you that taxes are not going to be raised. I will leave that tale to those who will explain why they told you they won’t and then go back on that promise later. We are in a hole that is going to take several years to dig out of. My overall goal would be to minimize the year to year tax hikes. Also, I would work to show the voters of the district the overall plan to work our way back to true solvency where any tax increases would be planned, understood and be within the ACT-1 inflation guidelines. In closing, I intend upon election, to work closely with the administration to assure your tax dollars are used properly. They are entrusted to the district by you the taxpayer to effectively educate our students for the future, we are also expected to to use those funds prudently in that endeavor. I do not believe in raising taxes without thoroughly vetting where existing money is being spent. So where one of my opponents said raise my taxes 1,000 dollars with zero qualifiers and my other opponent has said nothing, I lean toward the approach of show me where the money is going before you get more.
3 Q: James, I’m voting for you, but not for Hogan or Stehman! Could I instead of voting for the other candidate just vote for you? I’m retired and cannot see why we must continue to have School Board members raise our taxes, because they want extravagant buildings first and student learning where ever they can fit them in. I came up in the Boyertown School system from a two-room school in Morysville, and I can bet I know more than most of the graduates!
A: Yes, you can just cast one vote and not vote for a second candidate. If you vote straight party, I am on the Republican ticket along with Lisa Hogan. You would need to uncheck her name. If voting for individual candidates just check my name and do not use your second vote. I like you believe we need to change how we look at things in this district. Spending has to be done wisely in that we must respect the needs of the students and understand we are using your money. That use of money must be respectfully done. I believe we can do both. Get a great education and also spend responsibly.
4 Q: Hi Jim, Thank You for your mailing. My wife and I are impressed by your credentials and your stance on the issues. We will both vote for you on Tuesday. I may be mistaken, but I am thinking we will vote for two school board positions. If that is correct, can you recommend or endorse a second candidate for us? We agree, that the BASD needs people on the board who will look to curtail spending and seek accountability by those who are paid to manage us schools’ facilities in a more responsible manner as opposed to just pouring more dollars and increasing the tax burden on the community. If you are elected eventually, we would appreciate seeing a study of failure analysis to include a plan to avoid reoccurrence of the necessity to rebuild a relatively short-lived facility as is being done to the Football stadium. My experience and probably yours in private industry work would not allow just spending more money with a risk of having the same thing happen 30 years or less from now without a thorough analysis of Things Gone Wrong and steps to avoid a repeat of this problem. There has to be more accountability from the School Board and Administrators to the tax payers than has been shown IMO.
A: Thanks for your support. I do intend to bring some business practices to this school board. I hope that we can get a majority of people who believe that as board members. As far as a second vote, you’d not need to cast it, just vote once . I cannot endorse either of the candidates running against me as both believe in the same spend and spend some more philosophy. Thanks for your vote and your support.