Six seek four seats on Pottstown School Board

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

POTTSTOWN » The Pottstown School Board race fea­tures six can­di­dates, two of them in­cum­bents, seek­ing four open seats.

In­cum­bent Thomas Hyl­ton will ap­pear on the Repub­li­can line as will David Miller.

John Ar­mato and school board Pres­i­dent Amy Fran­cis and won both Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can lines dur­ing the spring pri­mary.

Ray­mond Rose and for­mer board mem­ber Bonita Barn­hill will ap­pear on the Demo­cratic bal­lot line.

In­cum­bent Susan Lawrence is run­ning un­op­posed to com­plete the two years re­main­ing to the term to which the school board ap­pointed her to fill a va­cancy.

In his re­sponse to a can­di­date ques­tion­naire, Hyl­ton, 68, wrote that he is pres­i­dent of non-profit, Save Our Land, Save Our Towns, and earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from Kutz­town Univer­sity.

He wrote that he de­cided to run be­cause “with the third high­est school prop­erty taxes in Penn- syl­va­nia, the Pottstown School District must learn to live within its means.”

In a sec­ond term, Hyl­ton wrote that he would “en­cour­age the school district com­mu­nity to pro­vide a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion with­out rais­ing spend­ing be­yond the rate of in­fla­tion and to con­tinue three­year trend of no tax in­crease.”

Miller, 61, is a for­mer Pott- stown Bor­ough Coun­cil mem­ber works as a lawyer and holds a law de­gree from Wi­dener Univer­sity,

he wrote in his re­sponse. He de­cided to run, he wrote in his re­sponse, be­cause of a “de­sire to work on tough is­sues that test the de­ci­sion mak­ing process. In­ter­est in see­ing the Pottstown School District en­hance it’s pub­lic im­age and per­cep­tion.

If elected, Miller wrote he would “hold lead­ers ac­count­able, en­force our stan­dards, and place stu­dents in the best pos­si­ble po­si­tion to com­pete and win.”

Ar­mato, 69, has a long list of con­nec­tions to the district.

“I have served the Pottstown School District and com­mu­nity for 48 years in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties in­clud­ing High School class­room ed­u­ca­tor, Ath­letic Di­rec­tor, class spon­sor, Na­tional Honor So­ci­ety spon­sor, Di­rec­tor of Stu­dent Ac­tiv­i­ties, Wrestling coach, Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­nity Re­la­tions, in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant to the School District for com­mu­nity re­la­tions, par­ent of two Pottstown High School grad­u­ates, mem­ber of the Civil Ser­vice Com­mis­sion, mem­ber of the Pottstown Down­town Im­prove­ment District Author­ity, and served on nu­mer­ous com­mu­nity and school district com­mit­tees. The last eight years serv­ing as a full time non paid vol­un­teer to the school district as Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­nity Re­la­tions,” he wrote in his can­di­date re­sponse.

Ar­mato, who holds a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tions from East Strouds­burg State Col­lege, wrote in his re­sponse that “pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion plays a vi­tal role in pre­par­ing the fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of our cit­i­zens and its lead­ers. We have a moral and eth­i­cal obli­ga­tion to en­sure they are given the ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties to as­sist them in reach­ing their po­ten­tial. As a mem­ber of the school board I can lend my ex­pe­ri­ence in help­ing to meet the chal­lenges that face pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion to en­sure a bright fu­ture for our chil­dren.”

He added, “my goal is to help pro­vide the best edu- cational op­por­tu­ni­ties for our chil­dren, while at the same time be­ing fis­cally re­spon­si­ble to our com­mu­nity. We must ad­vo­cate in Har­ris­burg for tax re­form that will elim­i­nate the un­fair bur­den our home own­ers are forced to carry and grossly un­der-funds Pottstown Schools by $13.7 mil­lion a year. In or­der to achieve that it will re­quire strong part­ner­ship with ad­min­is­tra­tion, fac­ulty, sup­port staff, par­ents, com­mu­nity, bor­ough coun­cil and the pri­vate busi­ness sec­tor.”

In his re­sponse, Rose, 42, wrote that he de­cided to run for school board be­cause “I have three chil­dren in the Pottstown School District. Be­ing in­volved in var­i­ous com­mu­nity events re­lated to the schools, I learned that I could make a big im­pact by of­fer­ing my point of view, time, and tal­ent.”

A web de­vel­oper with a bach­e­lor of science in in­for­ma­tion sys­tems, Rose wrote if elected his top pri­or­ity would be “par­ent en­gage­ment in the school sys­tem. With it, kids soar in school. With­out it, they are lost.”

In her re­sponse, Fran­cis, 49, wrote that she is run­ning due to “the de­sire to con­tinue to fight on our com­mu­nity’s be­half for a more fair and equitable ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence for Pottstown stu­dents, along with a more rea­son­able and just way to fund our pub­lic ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem for the Pottstown tax­pay­ers.”

Fran­cis is self-em­ployed and holds a bach­e­lor’s de­gree. She served as a school board di­rec­tor from 2005 to 2009 and from 2012 to the present. She be­came board pres­i­dent in 2016.

“Clearly the big­gest chal­lenge that Pottstown School District faces to­day is the lack of fair and equitable fund­ing of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion in the state of Penn­syl­va­nia, es­pe­cially for fi­nan­cially dis­ad­van­taged dis­tricts, such as Pottstown,” Fran­cis wrote. “If elected, I will con­tinue to work with fel­low board mem­bers, par­ents, staff, fac­ulty and stu­dents to build and sup­port a sus­tain­able net­work of ad­vo­cacy on be­half of the district and our com­mu­nity.”

Barn­hill did not pro­vide a re­sponse to Dig­i­tal First Me­dia’s can­di­date ques­tion­naire.

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