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Chester County Press

Kennett Consolidated school board candidates

10/25/2017 11:42AM ● By Steven Hoffman

Kennett Consolidated school board candidates

When voters go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7, they will be making a number of decisions about who will be representing them on the Kennett Consolidated School District's school board for the next four years.

In Region A, Mark Bowden, the award-winning author, is seeking his first term on the school board. He is the only candidate to earn a place on the ballot in the race to represent the Borough of Kennett Square on the school board.

Kendra LaCosta, the current school board president, is seeking her second four-year term on the school board from Region B (New Garden Township). LaCosta is being challenged by Paola Rosas.

In Region C, which is comprised of Kennett Township and portions of East Marlborough Township, there are two seats that will be decided. Voters will choose from among three candidates who are vying for seats on the school board. Heather Schaen is running for a fourth term on the board. She has served as school board president several times during her 12-year tenure on the board. Bill Brown is running with Schaen in his bid for a first term on the school board. Vicki Gehrt, a teacher and administrator for 46 years, is seeking to win one of the Region C seats.

Region A (vote for one)

Mark Bowden


BA Loyola University of Md 1973, journalist, author, adjunct professor at Loyola for 9 years, and Distinguished Writer in Residence (and adjunct professor) at The University of Delaware from 2011 to 2017.

How many years have you lived in the school district?

Three in Kennett. Before that, 23 in Avon Grove and Oxford.

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

I have broad experience as a journalist and author, and 16 years of teaching at the college level. All five of my children attended public schools in southern Chester County.

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

My first priority is to learn. I want to better understand the district, its successes and its problems. Beyond that I have no agenda. I want to do what I can to help us make smart decisions for students and teachers. I believe strongly in the mission of public education, to make sure that all of our children receive the best education we can give them.

Region B (vote for one)

Kendra LaCosta


BS Degree from the University of Oklahoma in finance and politics

Upon graduation, I spent 15 years with MBNA before taking some time at home with my 3 children. I returned to work part-time for a consulting firm, DecisivEdge, for 9 years, and recently transitioned in March of 2017 to a Product Manager role with OneMain Financial.

Years in the school district:

That's easy to remember—we moved to our home in the district on my youngest daughter's second birthday in 2004. So we have been in the district 13 years.

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

Most importantly, I care deeply about the success of our district and our commitment to prepare every student to succeed. I have been committed to not only attending but actively participating in all committee meetings, getting to know the staff, teachers, parents and students to become aware of any gaps we may have in realizing our mission. I question what we do, and why we do it. Finally, I try to balance the needs of all stakeholders within our community but ultimately ensure that every decision is best for the students.

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

The role of schools has changed in the last 20 years. We have always been entrusted to provide a quality education to all. Now in addition to that, we are responsible for student safety while they are under our care. We are responsible for their physical and mental health and well-being. Great strides and new tools have become available to help gifted children, children with special needs, children who do not speak English in the home, children applying to college and children struggling to succeed. With those new tools come great expectations to employ them to further every child's success. The technology available to teachers and students alike changes every day.

So my top two priorities will balance each other. The first would be to provide the support necessary to the administration to maximize the potential of every child, while never losing sight of those kids who don't "fit into a bucket." The second priority speaks to the fact that while the national and state economy are recovering well, we have still not regained our former baseline in property values, and therefore rely mainly on our taxpayers to provide anything additional. We need to attract and retain great teachers and staff, give our students what they need to succeed, and do so in a fiscally responsible manner.

I think it is important to state that I do not have an "agenda." I am purposefully not running on a platform of changes or promises. Most of the school board's decisions relate to the budget and planning. Others are reactive in nature as items are recommended by the administration or raised by the school community. With all of those decisions, we require thought and deliberation. None of those decisions are taken lightly, and our Board has been very successful today because no one member is pursuing his or her own personal aims for the district. I have been so proud of the way that we work together for our students, and all that we have been able to achieve.

Paola Rosas


Some college (experience in education comes as an involved parent).

How many years have you lived in the school district?


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

I am very involved in the community with different organizations. I'm very much in touch on what's going on in our community. 

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

Improving communication, increasing transparency and clarity between the administration and teachers, students and the community. 

Region C (vote for two)

Bill Brown


I grew up in North Star a small community just outside of Hockessin, Del. I went to Alexis I. duPont High School for two years and graduated from The Peddie School in Hightstown, NJ. I spent the first two years of my college education at Clemson University in South Carolina and graduated with a BA in History from Widener University in Chester, PA.

My professional background started in credit card banking and continued into bank technology development. I managed credit card lines of business for 13 years focusing on fraud, disputes and risk with multiple banks. I then decided to get into process automation technology and build the technology solutions that I wanted as a business manager. My roles included process management, product management, product marketing and management consulting for the last 15 years.

How many years have you lived in the school district?

My family moved to the Kennett Consolidated School District (KCSD) in 2001. We moved to Kennett area to be part of the KCSD. My son Evan spent 13 years in the district starting with kindergarten at Greenwood Elementary then moving onto Kennett Middle School and graduating from Kennett High School in June of 2017. My daughter Julia, currently a junior, is in her 12th year in the district and is a proud member of the Class of 2019.

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

I am an interested and involved parent that will strive to work with the administration to make the system even better for all families in our community. With your vote, I promise to partner with the current Board to review, maintain and improve the academic and extracurricular processes expected by students and parents. I will also use my cost management and process experience to maximize the value and minimize the costs to the taxpayers of KCSD Board decisions. I feel so strongly about working with and not against the current board that I decided to run with Heather Schaen, a current board member in Region C.

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

I want the school district to provide a robust and positive learning environment for all of the students and be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers by maintaining costs where necessary and reducing costs where appropriate to minimize school taxes.

Heather Schaen

Background and education:

I have a Bachelors of Science Degree in Education from the University of Delaware

and a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership. I have 15 years of teaching experience from Christina School District and Kennett Consolidated School District teaching at Greenwood Elementary and Kennett Middle School. I have served on numerous Kennett Consolidated School District committees, not only as a teacher, but as a parent, and as a school board director. I have served on the PTO Board as vice president, report card committees, strategic planning committees, and the new building committee (for the Middle School ). I ave served on the KCSD School board for the last 12 years as president, vice president and curriculum chair in addition to serving as personnel chair during the selection process of hiring our current superintendent.

How many years have you lived in the school district?

After teaching in the district for several years, I realized that Kennett Consolidated School District was an incredibly special place and my husband and I moved our family from Delaware so our children would be able to attend the schools in which I taught. We have lived in the district for almost 20 years. Our oldest is a senior at Lafayette College and we have twin daughters who are both seniors at Kennett High School. All of our children have attended kindergarten through senior years at Kennett.

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

My key attributes are having a genuine concern for the best interests of what is best for students and our community as a whole. I have no allegiance or ties to any other district. For me, it is Kennett from start to finish. My priority is, first and foremost, what is best for the students of Kennett and also what is reasonable and fiscally responsible to and for our taxpayers and community. In addition, I will bring a sense of continuity and continued shared vision to our district especially in time where we have the potential to have four new seats.

I have the experience as a board director to help lead and guide the KCSD board when we will be faced with many transitions over the course of the year.

As far as my priorities as a board member go, it is important to remember that is best not to have a personal agenda, but to work to carry out the mission of the whole set forth by our community and school district. So with that said, every year we have established a KCSD Board "forward" instead of a "retreat" meaning to go forward instead of backward to establish board goals for our district. These goals are shared goals by all of our board directors and are not personal goals. The first and most important goal is always how to better educate and prepare our students for the future with regards to improving our academic achievement while being fiscally responsible to our taxpayers. With that in mind, we are also focused on ways to better our communication systems with all stakeholders so that our processes and information are more readily available and transparent to all. One of our board goals has been to improve our district pride and we have thus established an “all in” theme as our mantra to move forward and encourage more involvement with our student body. We know our staff and administration are "all in" and we have encouraged students to get “all in” and write goals to be more involved with thier education and social activities at school.

Dr. Vicki Gehrt

Dr. Vicki Gehrt is a candidate for School Director for the Kennett Consolidate School District. She has been a resident of the Kennett community for the past 14 years and is a grandparent and great aunt of children attending the Kennett schools. She is a heralded educator honored for many achievements and innovative practices and, a person who is actively involved in local community service. She received her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Delaware and has served as an educator for the past 46 years as a teacher and administrator.

She can offer a high level of engagement to the duties of a School Board Director. She has a wealth of knowledge to share in school finance, teaching and learning . She has a style of civility, respect and professionalism with all constituencies and has a commitment to bi-annually reviewing enrollment patterns in the elementary schools.

She is fully supportive of the Kennett schools and believes that it is a community of high performing, committed and caring staff and students. The district has provided a superior level of educational opportunities for generations of Kennett Square residents. Her vision is to build on the great legacy of the school district while mindful of tax burdens on the community.

Vicki Gehrt is committed to serve the community with a strong focus to support all students and all staff in the school district. Her financial expertise with her many years in four school systems gives her the understanding of the importance of fiscal responsibility and the balance necessary in providing quality schools and services to the community.

SLUG: Kennett Consolidated school board candidates