The following letter was submitted to Radnor Patch for publication by St. Davids resident Dan Webster. Send your letters to Sam.Strike@Patch.com.
As an active
participant in Radnor Township School District meetings over the past two
years, I have come to the conclusion that the four Republican candidates for
school board director are the most compelling choice for Radnor residents –
hands down, without a doubt.
My interest and focus has principally been on the finances of the school district. As a member of the steering committee for Radnor Residents for Responsible Government, I initially started paying attention a couple years ago when it came to my attention that the school board had been accumulating massive unplanned surpluses, and I wanted to understand why this was happening. Surely there was a good reason for this – a plan, a strategy? But, two years later and with hundreds of hours invested, and after the accumulation of further $9,000,000 of surpluses, I can tell you with absolute confidence that there has been neither a plan nor a strategy. The ongoing surpluses are a function of financial naiveté by the Democratic school board majority, a complete lack of a long-term financial strategy, an excess of conservatism on their part in the budgeting process, and an inexcusable lack of clarity and transparency in the school district’s financial reporting. When offered help from the community in the form of a volunteer citizens’ financial advisory committee (modeled after the Township’s highly regarded CARFAC) to address these problems, this same board majority, including their incumbent candidates Rob Armstrong and Lydia Solomon, opposed the help. In fact, Mr. Armstrong, the then-head of the finance committee, was the most vocal opponent.
Meanwhile, I have had the opportunity, on many occasions, to observe the skilled analysis, cogent arguments, and tireless advocacy of candidate and incumbent director, Susan Michaelson. Two recent examples are her attempt this past May to deliver a 4% tax decrease to Radnor taxpayers, thwarted by the board majority, and her dogged efforts this October to bring to light what the actual surplus was for the 2012-13 school year ($4,672,000) and to demand clarification of a $1,571,000 discrepancy in the year-end financial reporting.
Two of Ms. Michaelson’s running mates, Martin Heldring and Jim Link, have also been active public participants in school district meetings, always displaying a firm grasp of the of issues, a respect for the application of sound analysis and planning, and a constant appreciation for the need to balance proper funding of the schools with sensitivity for the taxpayers of Radnor. Mr. Heldring, a municipal finance professional with a large international bank, invariably brings insightful commentary to all of the issues he addresses whether at the school district meetings or the Township meetings, where he is also an active participant. Mr. Link, also a finance expert, is a consultant to municipalities across the nation, focusing on pension and benefit issues. He is also the parent of three Radnor students, two graduates and one at RHS.
The Republican’s fourth candidate is Dave Falcone, a real estate attorney with a major Philadelphia law firm. While I don't know Dave as well as the other three candidates, I have observed him on numerous occasions to be a masterful public speaker and someone who cares deeply about addressing the important issues facing Radnor schools. Dave clearly has a vested interest in a long term healthy future for Radnor schools; he has two young children (and a third on the way!) who will be attending, the eldest of whom will start kindergarten next year.
Please join me in electing these four individuals on November 5. Our schools, our students, and our taxpayers will all benefit.