Boyertown Area School District is 100 square miles straddling Berks and Montgomery counties and its board representation is divided into regions. On Nov. 5, voters will fill six seats in three of those regions.
Candidate responses to The Mercury’s online questionnaire are included here, by region, in the order in which they were received.
Region 1 is entirely in Berks County and includes the municipalities of Bally, Bechtelsville, Earl, Colebrookdale and Washington. There, three candidates are seeking two seats.
One of those seats carries a two-year term and Melody McWherter, who won both the Republican and Democratic lines in the May primary, is unopposed.
For the other seat, which carries a four-year term, incumbent Democrat Rodney Boyer is facing off against incumbent Republican Christine Neiman.
• Boyer, 62, is a retired teacher, who was appointed to the board in March of 2018 to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Robert Caso.
In addition to his school board time, “I served for about 25 years on the Zoning Hearing Board of Washington Township, which is an appointed position” he wrote in his responses to The Mercury’s candidate questionnaire..
He wrote in his response that he decided to run because “I want to ensure that our kids get the best education possible within the resources of our community.”
Boyer wrote that the most important issue facing Boyertown schools is “a serious financial crisis, and we need to right our financial ship, so to speak. This needs to be addressed through broad sweeping expenditure reductions and by finding operational efficiencies in the way that we do business as a school district.”
Neiman did not complete a response to the questionnaire.
Region 2 includes Boyertown Borough, Douglass (Berks) Township and voting districts 2, 3 and 4 in Douglass (Mont.) Township. Three candidates, Lisa Hogan who is on the Republican and Democratic lines, Heather Stehman who is on the Democratic line and James Brothy, who is on the Republican line are seeking two seats there.
None of them are incumbents.
• Hogan, 41, won both a Republican and Democratic line in the May primary and has never held elected office.
In her responses, she described herself as “a mother of four and wife to a first responder. I like to say that I'm a professional volunteer. I've spent the last 15 years, since my first child was enrolled in kindergarten, volunteering. I've volunteered extensively in my children's schools. I also spend time working to support families of first responders.”
She wrote that she decided to run because “I was appalled by how a minority of our current school board members chose to push their personal agendas instead of doing the job they were elected to do. I was concerned that these members chose, and still choose, to obstruct progress in our schools. They cause chaos and create a hostile work environment for our administrators, causing a high attrition rate and loss of talent. They have consistently made poor financial choices which have led to our current financial distress. Our children and our community deserve better,” Hogan wrote.
According to Hogan, the most important issue facing Boyertown Schools is a “looming financial crisis. I would address this by working with my fellow board members and the district's administrators to make responsible and prudent decisions in regard to our budget. It took many years to get into this mess. It will take us some time to right the ship, but I believe if we work together it is possible to provide a high quality education and be fiscally responsible. This is not only possible, but it's absolutely necessary to the well being of our community as a whole.”
• Stehman, 39 is a “brand marketing manager” who has never held elected office.
In her response, Stehman wrote that “I am deeply committed to the future and success of our district as a parent and resident. I believe it is important that we have qualified residents leading the direction of our school district, who support public education, understand the challenges our district is facing and are actively involved in improving the community.”
Stehman further wrote that “the most important issue facing the Boyertown Area School District is the financial stability and long-range outlook. Most school districts are struggling to balance a budget as costs are outpacing revenue and Boyertown is no different. If elected, I would work with the administration to find ways our district can reduce costs, increase revenue, without impacting the education and activities available to our students and being fiscally-responsible and accountable to our taxpayers. With my experience in managing various sized marketing budgets in my career, I understand the challenges that come from reducing costs and finding creative ways to continue to meet the strategic long-term goals.”
James Brophy did not complete a response to The Mercury’s online questionnaire.
Region 3 is entirely in Montgomery County and includes New Hanover and Upper Frederick townships and voting district 1 of Douglass (Mont.) Township. Three candidates are seeking two seats there and none of them is an incumbent.
In the May primary, Brian Hemingway is the candidate who won both the Republican and Democratic lines on the ballot. The other Republican candidate is Roger Updegrove and the other Democratic candidate is Bryan Lees.
None of these candidates completed a response to The Mercury’s online questionnaire.