This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
Four West Chester residents vying for the West Chester Area School District’s (WCASD) two Region 1 school board seats in the General Election Nov. 3.
Fighting for the spots, with one incumbent, are Debra Maccariella, Vince Paul, Kate Shaw and incumbent Sue Tiernan.
Debra Maccariella (R)
Maccariella is a resident of West Goshen and is married with one child, who attends Fugett Middle School.
She attended Penn State University, where she earned a Master’s in education, and West Chester University, where she earned a Social Work degree. She is currently the deputy director of the Chester County Human Services.
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Inspiration to run: “I am running for this position as someone who is committed to public education and as someone who also believes in public service. I am the parent of a child in the district. I have been active through the PTOs since my child started kindergarten. I served on both Community Budget Task Forces in 2009 and in 2011, too.”
Why this position: “I believe I am uniquely qualified to serve given my professional background as the Deputy Director of the County Human Services. The Human Services are Aging; Children, Youth and Families; Drugs and Alcohol; Mental Health/Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; and Veteran’s Affairs. My career began in child welfare, where I spent 12 years dealing with abused and neglected children. I have dedicated my career to helping families in need in Chester County. Additionally, in my capacity as an administrator, I have human resources and management experience which will be beneficial to the school board position if I am elected.”
Main issue: “Standardized testing; educating students is my top priority, but I believe that standardized testing is affecting the way teachers teach and how kids learn. While the board doesn’t have a lot of control over testing, the board can advocate to the legislators. In my mind, children should like school and the teachers should be free to have creativity in their teaching styles — standardized testing makes both impossible in my mind. On March 23, 2015, the district approved a resolution to support House Bill 168. House Bill 168 would eliminate Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement, which I wholeheartedly support.”
Conflicts: “One issue that the current board approved was regionalization for school board candidates. The school board makes decisions that affect the entire district. Every voter should have a say on who is on the board — regionalization takes that away. As I continue meeting voters, many are unaware of the change and/or who their candidates are. My region is most of West Goshen and all of the Borough of West Chester.”
Why you: “I hope to earn the voter’s trust because of my background with the school district, my educational background and my work experience.”
Vince Paul (R)
Paul is a resident of West Goshen and is married with two children, the youngest of whom is attending West Chester Henderson High School.
Inspiration to run: “The education that my children have received in the WCASD has been outstanding. I want to be a part of the team that continues to provide an outstanding education for current and future students.”
Main issue: “I want to continue to provide excellent education for our students; closing the budget deficit by reviewing line items and by increasing efficiencies within the school district; and empower teachers, staff and parents to make education decisions for our children.”
Conflicts: “I am concerned about the apparent low prioritization of the budget gap by the current board. The enormity of the current gap must be addressed.”
Experience: “My professional background as a pharmacist is part of my qualifications for election to the board. As a pharmacist, my primary responsibility is for the well-being and safety of my patients. I am a former business owner, project manager, quality improvement team member and Director of Pharmacy; management roles with operational, personnel and budgetary responsibilities. Additionally, I am an administrator providing professional continuing education; a role where I identify pharmacist learning gaps and deliver educational programs to address those gaps.”
Why you: “The school board is primarily responsible for creating and approving budgets, approving contracts, creating and approving district policies, working with and empowering the district faculty and staff, appropriately operate the schools and to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of district operations. My professional background, professional education provision and work positions have provided me the experience I can directly apply to school board responsibilities.”
Kate Shaw (D)
Shaw is a resident of the Borough of West Chester and is married with one daughter, who just recently graduated from West Chester Rustin High School.
Inspiration to run: “Education changed the trajectory of my life. I was the child of two hard-working, blue-collar parents who knew that a good education would open doors that would otherwise be closed. And they were right. With the help of several truly exceptional teachers, I became the first girl in my family to attend college, and then graduate school, against significant odds. I am inspired to run for school board because I want to provide the same opportunities for other students.”
Why this position: “I am running for school board director because I believe that public schools are the foundation of a strong democracy. I have devoted my entire professional career to education. In the 20 years that I have lived in the Borough of West Chester, I have served for a decade as a faculty member and department chair in the College of Education at Temple University, teaching aspiring teachers, principals and superintendents. I also served as the deputy secretary for Postsecondary and Higher Education in the Pennsylvania Department of Education for three years in the Rendell Administration, during which time I worked closely with school districts, universities and legislators to ensure strong public education from preschool through college. And for the past six years, I have been the executive director of Research for Action, a nonprofit educational research organization in Philadelphia devoted to using research as a tool to improve access to high-quality public education for all students. Also, I am a proud parent of a 2015 graduate of Rustin High School. My daughter was well-served by the West Chester Area School District for 13 years. For this reason, I have a firsthand understanding of the strengths of the West Chester Area School District, and the challenges it faces as well. I hope to bring both my expertise in education and my commitment to public education to bear as a school board director of the WCASD.”
Main issue: “I am running because I believe that strong public schools are the cornerstone of our community; and I would like to work to ensure that the WCASD is as strong and effective as possible.”
Why you: “I believe that I have a lot to offer the school board. I have spent the last 30 years in the field of education and I have a particularly deep understanding of how state policy can affect school districts. I know that this expertise will make a unique and valuable contribution to the school board.”
Sue Tiernan (D)
Tiernan is a resident of West Goshen and is married with two children and four grandchildren.
She attended West Chester Henderson High School, Miami University (Ohio), West Chester University, Penn State University and Immaculata University. She’s currently a retired educator and a community volunteer.
Inspiration to run: “My father, Elwood Spellman, joined the school board when it was consolidating from township schools to a WCASD. He presided over the board during the 1960s when West Chester was struggling with civil rights and with doing the right thing for all children. He believed deeply in the public schools and the opportunity they gave to every child. He was my inspiration.”
Why this position: “My mother attended West Chester High School. I attended West Chester schools, as did my daughters and as do two of my grandchildren. I believe in our schools and this is a food way for me to serve the community.”
Main issue: “Having lived in West Chester my entire life, attended its schools, worked in education as a teacher and an administrator, I believe we must have strong public schools to have a strong West Chester community. The future of our children, our property values and our democratic government are at stake. I was elected to the WCASD board in 2011 and want to continue the good work our board is doing. Public education is a unique enterprise; we educate all children. We do not choose our students, accepting some and rejecting others. We offer an opportunity for children of diverse backgrounds and beliefs to learn and grow and work together. Local school boards were created by our state legislators to provide and control education at a local level, and though we are challenged every day by new mandates from our state, we have continued in West Chester to provide an outstanding education to children with all kinds of abilities and challenges and gifts. We must prepare our students for further education and careers in a world we sometimes cannot even fathom. That is our challenge, and in West Chester, we are doing that job. I would like to continue working productively with a positive board so that our district continues its outstanding student achievement, as well as fiscal sanity.”
Why you: “My background as a teacher and administrator has prepared me to thoughtfully consider the many competing entities facing a school board member: taxpayers, parents, homeowners, students, teachers and staff, all with compelling needs. A board member has to work with eight other directors and the superintendent to balance those needs with our financial ability to make an extremely complicated enterprise work. We are doing that. I would like to continue. I have the time and energy to attend board meetings, committee meetings, meetings with the superintendent and activities at schools. I serve on the CCIU board as well.”