School Board member Mike Welsh, not up for re-election this year, feels that the candidates not compromised by Pawlowski's PAC money, could best guide the school district.
This year’s Allentown school board race features a large field of candidates and I for one couldn’t be happier that so many have expressed interest and put themselves forward for consideration. Eight candidates have chosen to run independently while 4 have chosen to compete as a slate with the endorsement and fundraising efforts of Mayor Ed Pawlowski.
The Allentown School District has faced many difficult challenges the last few years and I believe better days could be on the horizon. Thanks to real fiscal discipline by our board and the administration of the school district, we are positioned to eliminate the need for layoffs in the coming year and will be offering full day kindergarten in even more of our schools. In the ensuing weeks there will be discussions regarding the possibility of restoring programs previously eliminated in cost savings initiatives by the district, with priorities put on the restoration of arts and music programs, library and physical education. These will be just discussions, however, and it will be important to remember that in possibly rehiring staff in these areas we must we prudent as we do not want to face the challenges of laying staff off again because of rash decisions this year.
Regrettably, while many of us see prospects for a better financial horizon for the school district, Allentown’s economic realities will continue to weigh on our children for years to come. Despite the renaissance that is happening downtown, many of our children live in poverty as demonstrated by the fact that 88% of students receive subsidized breakfast and lunch. Many of our children come from broken and/or disruptive homes and enter school without a basic knowledge of colors and numbers. These are the children we are charged to educate, and the teachers, administrators, and the board itself have maintained a commitment to providing the best education possible under these difficult circumstances.
In this election, I want to encourage voters to consider candidates who have a proven track record of fiscal prudence and will be independent in their voting. I am pleased that 8 of our candidates have chosen to seek office independent of any slate out of a concern that those within a slate may be compromised in their voting as a result of monies provided in funding their candidacy. While this may be the standard in most political races, I believe it inappropriate in a school board race.
In my short time on the board I have come to respect the professionals and many volunteers of the Allentown School District. I am humbled by their dedication to the mission of public education. Let there be no doubt that from top to bottom the people of the Allentown School District are here for the right reasons and could make more money in less stressful environments in surrounding wealthier districts. With their continued dedication, and with continued financial progress, I believe there can be better times ahead for the Allentown School District and the children and families it serves.
Allentown School Board Director