Vote for Roger Updegrove
For Boyertown School Board
I will work to:
- change the headlines
- improve our flat-lined academic outcome
- cut waste.
I Support : Family Values.
I hold to the truth that the most important institution in our society is the family, the most important job anyone has is being a parent. The schools must not undermine our parents constant efforts to instill principles and value sets in their children. The schools should and must totally support the community and the Family and not introduce anything that undermines parents.
I Support : A cost-effective efficient plan to improve our SAT performance
I Support : Property Tax Elimination; simply reforming is not enough.
I Support : Financial Strategic Plan for the School District Budget
I Support : Defining discretionary spending and cutting waste
I Support : A full STEM curriculum.
I Oppose : Mixed Gender Bathrooms and Locker Rooms in our schools.
I Oppose : Closing Pine Forge.
I Oppose : Building another Elementary School in Montgomery County with declining enrollment.
I Oppose : Record Debt levels
I Oppose : Top heavy Interest loans (the 10 year car payment plan)
Conservatives are being wrongly accused of wanting to cut out sports, music, and other extracurricular activities. Conservatives are in fact interested in grinding down wasteful discretionary spending that does not benefit our student academic outcome.
We want to invest money that actually educates our children.
School Directors are the elected advocates to ensure that the money our School District invests, will actually improve academics and the overall education experience of our children.
Winning Components for college acceptance:
- SATs and
- Extra-Curricular activity participation
* A high SAT score when combined with high GPA and extra-curricular activity participation, will provide an admission application with a selective college/university a knock-out punch.
Why am I running?
I have been watching what is going on in our school district with increasing concern, as our Board majority took us into record levels of debt, spent money thoughtlessly, and put our student performance on the back burner.
With YOUR vote on Nov 7th, I’ll bring my business experience and common sense to the Board and work hard to help get our District back on track.
We are falling behind in our most important duty—educating our students. With a budget this year of $111,000,000 for about 7,000 students,
- our key academic results, including SAT scores, are in the middle of the pack, compared to other Berks and Montgomery County public high schools.
- Boyertown’s high school is not highly ranked in the School Performance Profile (partly based on PSSA test results, whose rankings don’t measure statewide standings).
- parents report that spelling, handwriting, and straightforward math calculations are no longer emphasized as they should be.
What can we do to improve?
- Compare our course difficulty and curriculum against what area private schools and the most successful public schools are offering, and upgrade as needed
- Survey our teachers, parents, local businesses, and recent graduates to see where they think our curriculum should be strengthened, and address often-mentioned needs with stronger curriculum
- Get our administration to take the issue seriously and be a part of the solution.
DEBT AND SPENDING
Our School Board majority raised the School District’s debt from $33 million in 2013 to $103 million in 2016, for building projects that were not necessary, as shown before the debt was incurred by new student population estimates. Ex-President Obama doubled the national debt; our Board majority tripled our district debt, and we have a tough job ahead to try and ease its impact on all of us:
- The first 10 years of “new” debt payments are low on principal and high on interest.
- We can’t pay debts back early to save money.
- The $15 million bond has variable-rate interest, not recommended for school districts by our state auditor general.
- $60 million of our debt has above-market interest rates (50% higher than the rates for the rest of the district’s debt).
The Board majority and our Superintendent have two more costly, but nonessential, items on deck that will dig our financial hole even deeper:
- all-day kindergarten (our Superintendent said he wanted this before he was even hired)
- a new elementary school, to be built on leased land. No other Boyertown school is on leased land—it’s just too risky to do, with the many millions we would be spending for this project.
Our debt service in 2016 was $7.5 million. Our 2017-18 draft budget deficit is $5.6 million. The debt we should never have taken on is causing this big hole, as expected.
Our residents just got a new hike in their county tax bills for the Community College. How to deal with this deficit without big school tax increases? It will be very hard. Seventy percent of our budget is previously contracted salaries–off the table for now. Here’s what we can cut without affecting student programs:
- Administration, to its most efficient minimum;
- Costs of borrowed money;
- Wants that aren’t needs;
- Doing risky lawsuits (suing the Board’s architect, EI Associates, ($600,000, plus big legal fees);
- Expensive district newsletters;
- Costly initiatives that, after true cost-benefit analysis, aren’t viable (let’s check our charter school);
- Inefficient building use—make efficient instead of building more schools.
With a deficit this large, we need all our District staff and residents on board to suggest ways, large and small, we can save money. We need to push our state legislators to fix the pension crisis Harrisburg created, abolish the school property tax, and reimburse us fully for costly state mandates like Common Core that do nothing to improve our education.
Growing up on a farm in Douglass Township, I graduated from Boyertown High School in 1969. As the successful owner for 25 years of R and R Auto Sales and Service in Gilbertsville, I have sold many thousands of cars to satisfied customers, some who still come to me today to have cars looked at that they want to buy from others. I believe this is because of my business principles of hard work, honesty, and giving good value, which are my personal values as well. I have been married for 45 years to my childhood sweetheart, Debbie, raising our two daughters, who graduated from Boyertown in 1997 and 2002.
In my spare time, I was active for several years with Mid-Atlantic Jack Russell Rescue, training rescue dogs to socialize them for adoption into people’s homes. After retiring, my business sponsored a stock car racing team for five years. We competed from New York to Delaware, including locally at Grandview Speedway. I also serve on the Douglass Township Open Space Committee, being especially involved in fundraising for the children’s fish rodeo. An appointed member of the Zoning Hearing Board, I am also a long-time supporter of our local fire department.
We need to encourage all children to do the best they can in school, so they are well equipped to live their own American dream. At the same time, we have to be good stewards of the tax money our hard-working residents pay the district and focus our spending on improving education, not administration.
Please join with me to boost academics and try to fix our financial mess—we urgently need both!
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