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Four school board candidates look to unseat incumbents in Avon Grove

10/25/2017 11:46AM ● Published by Steven Hoffman

Name: Lynn Weber

Avon Grove School Board Director Position

Region 1 London Britain & Franklin Townships


Educational Background

I graduated from West Chester University in 1983 with a Bachelor’s degree and received my CPA license in 2000. I have 16 years of experience in public accounting with 14 years at same firm. I also have 4 years of experience in private accounting. I am currently on the board of a nonprofit corporation. This is a volunteer position. I was also on my parish finance council for several years.


What are your key attributes that qualify you for a position as a school board member?

I am fiscally conservative. I believe in budgeting and adhering to the budget while planning for the future. I believe my knowledge and experience as a CPA will enable me to be a board member that can put the school finances on a stronger footing. I believe in transparency – an item that needs to be improved with the current administration and school board. I have strong family values. I believe that the family unit is the foundation that children should learn from and rely on. I strive to lead by example.


What would be your top two priorities as a member of the school board?

I want to represent the interests of the entire community that elected me. This includes the students of the AGSD as well as the senior citizens that live in the district. I want to be part of a school board that will work to ensure that students of AGSD will receive an excellent education that will result in them becoming responsible, successful individuals after they leave AGSD. I want to restore the real estate discount plan for seniors who volunteer for hours spent in the schools and library. This will allow for more interaction between the younger and older generations. There is much to be learned from all age groups.

I want to restore, maintain and update the school facilities. The current school board has allowed the school buildings, especially the high school, to deteriorate. The roof in the high school has been leaking for many years. The bathrooms are in dire need of repair and replacement. These items as well as many others need to be fixed now instead of waiting until 2023 as is being discussed in the current school board.


What are your thoughts on how the school district might address its facilities needs?

The existing buildings need to be evaluated and repaired. I do not believe we need a new middle school building particularly with a trend of declining enrollment. Instead our focus should be on restoring, maintaining, and updating the existing buildings. The condition of the high school especially needs to be addressed immediately. The current high school students should not have to attend a school with a leaking roof and deteriorating bathrooms. The current board through the Facilities Input Group (FIG) has used the last 18 months to evaluate the school facilities. An alternative to building a new school was not fully explored. Initially the public was told that the current high school could not be renovated or expanded. Now we are told that both are possible, but that we need a new middle school. It feels like we are reliving the mega school scenario all over again. The community was told that the individual elementary schools could no longer be used. The complex on 896 was then built. Now the charter school uses the old elementary schools as an excellent option for children in the Avon Grove School District.

We need to focus on what is most important to the students. It is not brand new buildings but rather good teachers, innovative programs, extracurricular activities including sports and the arts. The latter should not be forced to fight for funding because so much of our school budget has been redirected to a new middle school.



Name: Rick Dumont

Avon Grove School Board Director Position

Region II


Education and Background

I am a graduate of Christiana High School in Newark, Del. Shortly after graduating from High School, I enlisted in the United States Air Force where I obtained the rank of sergeant. I served four years of active duty and one year with the Delaware Air National Guard. After I received an Honorable Discharge from the military, I enrolled as a full-time student at the University of Delaware. I graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.A. in International Relations.


What are your key attributes that qualify you for a position as a school board member?

Being a parent and currently having a child in school is a key attribute for serving the community as a School Director. For many years, my wife and I have been involved in a variety of school-related activities and youth sports in the Avon Grove School District. I am very familiar with the facilities, curriculum, and teachers in the district. I have also attended board meetings and understand, from a parent’s perspective, the challenges facing our school community.


Another key attribute is my professional experience. In addition to my leadership experience in the military, I have worked for both large and small companies. I have been with my current employer for 14 years as an Information Technology professional. Throughout my professional career, I have been part of diverse teams who successfully solved complex problems in a fiscally responsible manner.


Finally, I am committed to public service. School Directors must be committed to serving their community. It is a stressful position that requires a willingness to work with everyone in the district to provide our children with an excellent education and taxpayers with fair representation from their elected board members.


What would be your top two priorities as a member of the school board?

My top priority will be to work with stakeholders to provide a high quality education for every child in the district. This means providing adequate funding and support for great teachers, giving teachers the classroom tools they need to help students succeed, providing adequate support for the new full-day kindergarten program, and improving district facilities.


My second priority will be to ensure the entire community is represented on the school board. Many members in our community do not currently have children in the Avon Grove School District, but they pay taxes to fund our schools. Throughout the campaign, I have been asked by numerous residents to make sure their voices are heard by the school board. Over the past four years, they believe that their opinions are no longer taken seriously but instead ignored. This must change. In order to solve the challenges facing our district, everyone must feel like they are a part of the solution.


What are your thoughts on how the school district might address its facilities needs?

I do not support the current facilities improvement plan “Option 1C” under consideration by the board. The two primary shortcomings of this plan are the delayed improvements to the high school and the enormous cost. First, Avon Grove High School students should not have to wait until 2023 for much needed improvements such as a new roof. Second, the financial impact to our community is significant. Moving forward with “Option 1C” will add $10 million of debt per year to the district’s budget for the next 20 years ($200 million in total). The tax increases needed to support this much debt will hurt both families and students. We cannot to continue to ignore the facility needs of our district. I believe a more financially sustainable approach is needed to restore and expand our existing facilities to meet the academic and extracurricular needs of current and future students. I will work with the school board to make this happen.


Name: John T. Auerbach

Avon Grove School Board Director Position

Region 3


Education/background

I graduated from Avon Grove High School in 1985 and obtained a BS Degree in Chemical Engineering from Penn State. During my career, I have supported pharmaceutical manufacturing in roles that included planning and executing large capital projects, supervising manufacturing operations, and facilities management.


What are your key attributes that qualify you for a position as a school board member?

I am an engineer who enjoys problem-solving and thrives on conquering difficult challenges in a team environment using a methodical, analytical, and collaborative approach. During my time in pharmaceutical manufacturing, I participated in the transformation of operations that were forced to continuously reevaluate to survive. Our success was due to the ability to identify and strengthen elements supporting our core objectives while eliminating waste and shedding things that did not add value. While a school system is not a production facility, the concept of evaluating elements, policies and decision making in a critical manner versus one driven by emotion has merit. Each choice we make should answer “yes” to the question ‘Is this the best way to use our limited resources to benefit our students?’


What would be your top two priorities as a member of the school board?

I want to help reset our priorities so the students of today have a better Avon Grove than those of yesterday. I want to ensure that we immediately work to address areas of neglected maintenance, particularly at the High School, that have existed for far too long. The roof leaks, the bathrooms are terrible - conditions that have existed for many years. I want to do this with an understanding that we need to do more than just maintenance but it starts there. If the roof of your house started leaking how many years do you think you might wait to fix it?


We need to evaluate our current and future spending critically. I want to do this while protecting what is critical to a well-rounded school experience that includes band, sports, choir and other programs. Avon Grove’s budget has grown at an alarming rate over the past 4 years. The massive borrowing associated with the path currently being considered will put us in a position where the revenue needed for the programs mentioned above will be consumed by debt service or a heavily burdened community will be required to pay even higher taxes. Borrowing scenarios show us paying this debt until 2042.


What are your thoughts on how the school district might address its facilities needs?

My experience on the Facilities Input Group (FIG) gave me a greater understanding of the status of the Avon Grove school facilities and what has been done in other areas where business heavy communities like West Chester have built enormous facilities for the number of students using them. I did not support the recommendation of the FIG because I believe we did not fully explore alternatives that could have better balanced the needs of our schools with the burden we are asking of the community.


I would like to develop a solution that focuses on the specific needs that have been identified for the schools versus one that says our school must be a certain size or that the middle school must include grades 6-8 right now. This limited thinking excluded many other possibilities from even being developed. There are significant issues, particularly in the high school that can be addressed through a combination of maintenance, renovation, upgrade and even expansion. The FIG exercise showed that we could build on the high school in a direction (towards the middle school) that was not thought possible early in the process. It also showed that we have the financial capacity to borrow over $50 million without increasing taxes thus making it possible to make meaningful improvements now. Developing the details of these options will require engineering support and a school board that will be open to consider them. That is not possible with the current board in place.


Name: Jeff Casey

Avon Grove School Board Director Position

Region 3


Educational Background

I graduated from Allentown High School located in Monmouth County. New Jersey in 1985 and four years later earned a B.S. Degree in Marketing from West Chester University.


What are your key attributes that qualify you for a position as a school board member?

I have worked in the financial sector for over 25 years, and have been involved in the Avon Grove community serving many years on the London Grove Township Golf Committee. I also come from a family of educators including two principals. I believe that my experience in the banking industry will be an asset on the school board and I pledge to do all I can to bring a balanced fiscal plan back to the Avon Grove School District. Over the past four years, the current school board has increased the district’s budgeted spending by 22.6 percent, which has resulted in yearly tax increases accumulating to 10.84 percent in tax payment years 2014-2017. It is clear that a more balanced financial approach is needed.


What would be your top two priorities as a member of the school board?

If elected, I will help drive the development of a realistic 5 to 10 year financial plan that includes the repairing and/or expansion of our schools in a responsible manner. I will invest in classrooms and give teachers the support and tools they need to help every child succeed including additional support for extracurricular activities and special needs children and parents.

I fully support programs such as freshmen sports and the arts because I believe they are key to a child’s education. They help to deliver a well-rounded experience & instill values such as setting goals, building leadership skills, and building relationships with coaches and mentors.


I will work to provide a safe and well-maintained school environment that supports learning for today’s students. I believe this can be done without the proposed aggressive borrowing which will result in exponential property tax increases and putting the programs mentioned above at risk. I am very concerned about our current debt service growing from $30 million this year to over $235 million if the current board is re-elected and approves the Facilities Input Group (FIG) recommendations. Adding the tax increases needed to support the new school to what has already occurred, quickly ramps up to a 25.84 percent tax increase from years 2014 through 2022. At a 3 percent rate each year thereafter, by 2027 our taxes would have increased by more than 40 percent from 2014. The current FIG recommended debt service runs through 2042!


I will build a stronger relationship with Avon Grove Charter School (AGCS) administration and board.  I will work with the school board to establish open lines of communication and openly support the Avon Grove Charter School leadership.  Collaboration with the charter school will help the community understand the important roles that both the AG schools and the charter school play in promoting educational excellence in our district. AGCS provides an important choice for parents.


I also want to work to improve School Board and Administration transparency by providing the public with presentation materials in advance of school board meetings.  I will support the use of business intelligence software to publish key academic and financial performance data. I will also hold leaders accountable for academic progress and management of district resources.

And finally, I will give everyone a chance to be heard since I will be representing Region III and all of its voters, parents and children. To accomplish this, I would like the AG residents to have the opportunity to regularly meet with the board members in a relaxed, social environment to talk to them about what’s on their mind.


What are your thoughts on how the school district might address its facilities needs?

The existing buildings need to be evaluated, repaired, and renovated wherever necessary. Although I don’t agree with all of the FIG’s facilities recommendations, I would leverage as much of the objective facts as possible to re-energize a new fact finding initiative. I would explore alternatives to building a new  middle school but first and foremost, I would repair and renovate the high school, as I believe this is our top priority. We owe it to our current students to provide a safe and well-maintained environment in which to learn.


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