School Board candidates share their views on education

Eric Johnson

A few Kutztown, Fleetwood and Brandywine Heights School Board candidates shared their views on education and the upcoming election.

Running for Kutztown School Board, Eric F. Johnson, Ph.D., father of two who will be starting at Kutztown Elementary during the term for this School Board seat, is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Kutztown University.

“As someone who has been working in higher education for more than a decade, I am fully aware of the importance of primary and secondary education not just for the college-bound, but for anyone who participates in our society, economy, and electorate,” Johnson wrote to The Patriot.

He believes that whether or not one has children in the school system, everybody at one time or another depends on the services of people who need a solid education.

“If I could make anything happen it would be to make more people realize that education is not an expense but an investment in a stronger economy and society with a proven track record,” writes Johnson.

He believes that he is qualified because he has held many leadership positions over the years that have required looking at an issue from many different perspectives.

“I am aware that there are many interests at stake that are sometimes conflicting, and I hope to work with all parties on the many issues that will rise over the next four years,” writes Johnson.

Kutztown School Board candidate Karl H. Nolte III, 44, of Lenharstville, feels he has considerable experience in managing budgets and implementing cost-saving ideas. He would use that experience to work with administrators to continue to drive for peak educational performance without adding additional cost, said Nolte, a chemical engineer and a plant manager for Air Products, managing a facility with more than 300 employees.

“I am running for School Board because I want the Kutztown Area School District to provide the highest quality public education. I believe this can be accomplished without putting additional burden on the taxpayers of the district,” said Nolte.

He would like to see the high school repairs completed in a systematic fashion that does not waste taxpayer dollars.

“I can provide the guidance to ensure the necessary repairs are made to the high school that are both cost effective and provide for the long term viability of the building,” he said.

Nolte believes the district needs a strategic vision for the repairs of the High School, “if we don’t we are going to be wasting funds.”

“I think the challenges are the tax burden onto the taxpayers could be too much so we have to be very careful so you don’t increase tax burden,” said Nolte.

Nolte also said that the tax base in the Kutztown Area School District does not heavily rely upon businesses “so that really all falls to local people and their own personal type taxes to cover because the business base is very small so that’s a problem.”

“These are still very difficult economic times, and school districts continue to be stressed with balancing reduced funding and educational needs,” said Nolte. “I look forward to working toward solutions for the Kutztown Area School District that will benefit the students and taxpayers of the district.”

Running for Brandywine Heights School Board, Christine MacMillan, Fleetwood, was first introduced as a board member when she was asked to fill a vacated position in January of 2012. A year later, MacMillan has decided to continue and run for the position in this year’s election.

“I have a lot of faith and trust in the administration that is currently in place. I’m interested in being a part of it and providing some level of oversight and bringing some of my business experience to the table,” said MacMillan.

MacMillan feels that the district as a whole is facing a lot of challenges in budgetary and in issues with state funding or non-funding of public education in the upcoming years.

Fleetwood School Board candidate Kevin L. Manmiller, Richmond Township, feels his experiences as a product of the school district, as a parent with a child in the Fleetwood school district, and his concern for the level of product the school district is putting out qualifies him as a candidate as a school board member. He is a project manager for real estate development and construction for Giorgio Foods.

“I am hoping to reduce the cost of educating a well-rounded student. There’s a lot of opportunities out there for cost savings. I believe we’re getting ready to negotiate the contracts of teachers in the very near future so there’s a lot of ways we can save money and make it zero on the taxpayers and still provide the students with the education that they deserve,” said Manmiller.

Manmiller believes in preserving the programs the district offers the students. The biggest challenge he sees is resistance to change.

“People become acclimated to a certain way of thinking that this is the way that it has to be in order to save money. To get the education they need, there’s going to have to be a change in thinking,” said Manmiller.

Kutztown School Board candidate Jenny Clay informed The Patriot that she is no longer running.

The Patriot was not able to reach all of the school board candidates via phone, email or Facebook. For any candidates who would like to submit comments to The Patriot, press deadline is noon on Tuesday, Oct. 29. Send comments to lmitchell@berksmontnews.com.

List of School Board Candidates

Brandywine Heights Area School District

Republican & Democrat tickets: 4 year term DAVID BIEBER of Fleetwood

Republican: 4 year term CHERYL EYRICH of Fleetwood

Republican & Democrat tickets: 4 year term TRAVIS PORR of Fleetwood

Republican & Democrat tickets: 4 year term ELLEN GROSSMAN of Topton

Democrat: 2 year term CHRISTINE MACMILLAN of Fleetwood (current Member)

Fleetwood Area School District

Region 1 Republican & Democrat tickets for 4 year term MARK TODD WATKINS of Fleetwood

Region 2 Republican & Democrat tickets for 4 year term JASON VALICK of Blandon

Region 3 Republican & Democrat tickets for 4 year term KEVIN L. MANMILLER of Fleetwood

Region 3 Republican & Democrat tickets for 4 year term MICHAEL D. NOLL of Fleetwood

Kutztown Area School District

Region 1 Republican & Democrat tickets for 4 year term MICHAEL HESS of Kutztown

Region 2 Republican & Democrat tickets for 4 year term ERIC F. JOHNSON of Kutztown

Region 3 Republican 4 year term JENNY CLAY of Kempton (informed Patriot she is no longer running, declined to comment).

Region 3 Republican & Democrat tickets for 4 year term KARL H. NOLTE, III of Lenhartsville

Source: http://www.co.berks.pa.us/Dept/Elections/Documents/2013%20Election/2013GEN/SCHOOL.pdf