The following letter was submitted to Radnor Patch for publication by Villanova resident John Dallas Bowers. Email your letters to Sam.Strike@Patch.com.
I admire those in our community who take an active rôle in monitoring our Radnor School Board, even long after their children have graduated. I just haven’t been one of those parents. I was tuned in while Jennifer was in the system, but that pretty much ended in 1988 when she packed up for Vanderbilt.
Over the years since, I’ve been aware of specific issues as they arose, such as union contract talks or school construction controversies, but otherwise have assumed things were rolling along pretty smoothly.
That changed in 2009 when SUSAN MICHAELSON, a long-time friend, was running for her first term. I really started to pay attention when she pointed out the board’s drive for more tax increases, even in the face of a seven-figure surplus.
Fast forward four years, and the worrisome issues have only intensified. As I’ve watched board meetings and listened to the Democrats try to explain and defend their majority-controlled actions, the words that come to mind are clueless and reckless.
Here’s a little history to bring you up to speed. The problems with the School District’s accounting and taxation began to come to light in February 2011, when the 2010 audit revealed a $5 million surplus – in the wake of months of reporting by the Administration that finances were extremely tight. SUSAN MICHAELSON, stunned by the surplus revelation, immediately became a leading voice for much greater fiscal transparency and restraint. She voted no on the next two proposed tax increases, as the surpluses continued to mount: another $5 million in 2011 followed by $4.4 million in 2012.
The 2013 results are in, and we’ve just learned that surplus is a whopping $4.7 million, confirmed by the School District’s auditor during last week’s Board business meeting. [Watch here.] As for this year’s 2013-14 budget, the Board seemed to finally understand that another tax increase this was untenable politically. However, the Board majority rejected the meaningful 4% millage reduction advocated by SUSAN MICHAELSON and her colleague, Pattie Booker, and instead, passed a tiny, fractional millage reduction back in May. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be looking for another surplus. How much surplus is enough for the Democrats? I guess they’re not there yet.
MARTIN HELDRING, one of the four candidates I’m supporting in this election, wrote a blog post here on Patch that lays out more specifics of the current $4.7 million surplus in a very clear, compelling way. Rather than restate those facts here, I encourage you to click on this link to read them for yourself.
It’s important to point out that MICHAELSON, FALCONE, HELDRING, and LINK are not one-issue candidates. In addition to accounting and finances, they have a deep command of curriculum and student safety issues. They are keenly interested in getting the District working from a data-driven strategic and operating plan that prioritizes areas of concern aimed at strengthening student achievement and the District’s relative rankings against our near neighbors. They are opposed to the governing philosophy of the current Board majority, again including Mr. Armstrong and Ms. Solomon, who push ahead funding and work on unvetted projects, and hastily dismiss the valid concerns of parents and members of the public who question them.
I believe we are at a pivot point here in Radnor, and as one who supports investing wisely in our children’s education while being careful stewards of the available resources, I urge you to vote for SUSAN MICHAELSON, DAVID FALCONE, MARTIN HELDRING, and JIM LINK.