Eight candidates are vying for the four open seats on the Boyertown Board of School Directors. There are two open seats in Region I and one open seat each in Regions I and II.
The candidates include incumbent Robert Caso, former board member Ruth Dierolf, Rodney Boyer, and John DeMartino for Region I; Dana Knowlton and incumbent Jill Dennin for Region II, and Brandon Foose and Roger Updegrove for Region III. Terms expiring in 2017 include Paul Stengle of Region I and John Landino of Region III. They are not seeking reelection.
About the candidates
Robert Caso of Boyertown currently serves on the school board. He says his reason for running is “to represent the people in my community who would otherwise have no voice on the Board.”
Caso is a Consultant, CPA, and a past public company CFO. If reelected, he says he will “make the BASD the Number 1 academic school in the Commonwealth by improving academics and SAT scores.” Effective governance and Fiscal responsibility and transparency will also be part of his agenda.
Ruth Dierolf of Earl Township is a former board member and past business owner, she is now retired. Her reasons for running include cutting waste and improve SAT scores. She says facilities do not educate kids, good curriculum and properly trained teachers do.
If elected, Dierolf says she will give every child a chance and focus on fiscal responsibility, transparency, and cutting waste. She said she has no agenda.
Rodney Boyer of Washington Township is currently retired and has served as a member and chairman of Zoning Hearing Boards in Washington and West Pottsgrove Townships. In addition, he has served on the BASD Comprehensive Planning Committee and the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit school evaluation team. He has no previous experience as a school director.
Boyer says he is running to “ensure that this school district moves forward into the 21st century” and offered the example of the increased use of technology in education.
He is also running to ensure fiscal responsibility, academic success, and to make sure that student programs and activities are maintained and improved. If elected, he says he work on those areas mentioned and he also expressed a need to consider the influx of new housing on the Montgomery County side of the district.
John DeMartino of Earl Township has been a partner in a multi-state road construction firm for past 17 years. He says that position has involved multi-million dollar contracts, human resources, union negotiations, budgeting, bidding and human resources. If elected, his hope is to bring professionalism to the board and will work with administration to find solutions. He supports open and clear communication to the residents of the district and fiscal responsibility.
When asked about his reason for running, DeMartino says “I seek to promote a harmonious Board and will use my experience as a business leader with multiple partners to make that happen.” He added “. Spending affects all of us, particularly for those dependent on a fixed income. It is imperative that we spend prudently and wisely plan for the future. I want to help Boyertown succeed.”
Incumbent Jill Dennin of Gilbertsville has served on the board for the past three years. In addition to serving as a delegate to the Pennsylvania School Board Association, she currently serves as a board member on the Berks County Intermediate Unit and the Advisory Board of the Boyertown Area YMCA.
With a background in Political Science and Public Policy, she has previously worked in Washington DC for the Governor of Connecticut and has experience serving as Boyertown Elementary PTO President, Bear Fever Coordinator, and member of the BASD Parent Advisory Council. She has served as a substitute within the district and is currently a part time substitute teacher in the Daniel Boone School District and a part time personal care provider. Dennin says these experiences have given her the chance to see the educational system from the perspective of the parent, staff and administration.
When asked why she is running, Dennin says it is to ensure that BASD continues to “meet the evolving needs of all current and future students. This means properly funding our schools and all extra-curricular activities so we can be a desired community in which to live and raise a family.” She believes student achievement can be increased by making an investment in public education. If reelected, she said she will advocate bringing the state funded Pre-K Counts program to the district and explore piloting the option of full day kindergarten.
A questionnaire from Knowlton was unreturned. According to his website at <http://www.knowltonknows.com> , he has 10 years of experience in finance and 20 years in executive management, including serving president and COO of a multi-million dollar equipment company. Beyond work and home, he serves as a National Ski Patrol member at Spring Mountain and donates to Vietnam Veterans charities. Looking back on his own school experience, he says he knows the kinds of hurdles kids face.
On his website, Knowlton addresses academics and says Boyertown can do better than average SAT scores. He also addressed finances, stating “With the big deficit we are facing because of bad loan decisions, we have to stop the bleeding, cut administration and waste where we can, and prioritize our spending on teaching our children.” He is against closing Pine Forge Elementary and explained how facilities don’t improve student improvement as much as putting money directly into education.
Brandon Foose of New Hanover Township says the experience he has for the position of a board director is a composite of his life’s experiences. A biologist by training, he has stepped out of the laboratory to take on a roll as Compliance Solutions Lead for a pharmaceutical company. He is a 2002 graduate of Boyertown Senior High School and says he was a great deal to the district and is proud to be an alumnus. A native of Berks County, he now resides on the Montgomery County side with two children attending Boyertown Area School District.
When asked his reason for running, Foose says “After attending several School Board meetings I was discouraged with the discourse and felt that our community deserved better. In order to continue making progress in this district and preparing students to be successful in today’s world, we need to ensure that we strive to provide the best in applied learning and critical thinking skills.” He added how he supports “comprehensive education, diverse course offerings, and a range of clubs and activities.”
If elected, he says he would aim is to continue navigate the district forward and provide a quality education for students. He would like to work with other board members to play a more active role in lobbying state officials on pension reform and special education funding and he would also like to see a stronger relationship forged between the district and the surrounding community.
Roger Updegrove of Douglass (Mont) is the longtime owner of R and R Auto Sales and Service in Gilbertsville. According to his website at <http://www.betterstudentoutcome.com>, Updegrove grew up on a farm in Douglass Township and graduated from Boyertown Senior High School in 1969, he has also had two children graduate from the district. He currently serves on the Douglass Township Open Space Committee and is an appointed member of the Zoning Hearing Board.
Updegrove says he has business principles of hard work, honesty, and giving good value, which are also his personal values. If elected, he says he will bring his business experience and common sense to the school board.
“We need to encourage all children to do the best they can in school, so they are well equipped to live their own American dream. At the same time, we have to be good stewards of the tax money our hard-working residents pay the district and focus our spending on improving education, not administration,” Updegrove stated on his website.
All of the candidates have cross-filed in both the Republican and Democratic primaries scheduled for May 16.