Name: Leonard B. Altieri, III
Municipality: Newtown Township
Running For: Marple Newtown Board of School Directors
Positions Held Previously/Years in Office: Appointed to Marple Newtown Board of School Directors, February 2013. Currently Chairman of the Facilities and Transportation Committee.
What are the larger issues facing the district and how would you like to see them resolved?
Every year, our district has more and more regulations that we must comply with while receiving little to no money to perform these tasks. It is important that we, as school board members, have good working relationships with our state and federal elected officials to advocate for either changes in certain laws, or push for more funding in some of our budgets line-items.
Additionally, our district needs to continue to work on the quality of education that we currently produce. While we have had an increase in SAT scores, (this year we were able to score above 500 in all three subjects) and other standardized testing we need to ensure that our students have the tools and resources needed to continue to make these positive strides. Last year, the school board approved free SAT prep classes as well as free PSSA prep classes in hope of continuing to build on our momentum.
How would you create a balance between spending taxpayer dollars and quality education?
One of the biggest issues I have encountered as a board member has been a lack of a strategic plan. Though I have only been through one budget cycle, it seems from past practice, that our district does not have an established long-term strategic plan for both budget expectations and good policy. If elected in November, I will continue to work with parents, administration and my fellow board members to craft and implement such a strategic plan.
How can you improve school district and board transparency with residents?
The easiest way of improving board transparency in the district is informing the residents of committee meetings and general voting meetings. Many times we get a room packed with citizens thinking that the issue we are discussing will be voted that night, or they are told something from a neighbor or read a blurb in the headlines and they think we are all of a sudden making a decision without us, the board, doing our due diligence.
We have committee meetings on the second and third Tuesday of every month. On the fourth Tuesday, we have our general voting meeting. It is in these committee meetings where the heart of the discussion is created between parents, board members and administration. We are presented with an idea by the administration and we debate in public the pros and cons. After that, the specific item is placed on the agenda for the general voting meeting where we give it an up or down vote.
We also need to ensure that we have an open and clear dialogue with parents. One of the first meetings that I had after getting appointed was meeting with all of the PTO Presidents. This was important because I wanted to reach out to the parents and speak with them personally, outside of school board meetings. After, I began attending the local meetings in order to keep the line of communication with the parents open.
Recently, the school board approved a new TV Studio elective in the high school. In this class, students are trained on how to “report” the news and broadcast it throughout the building. If elected, I will push for these students to continue to gain more experience by broadcasting our board meetings on the district's public access channel, giving those who cannot make the meeting the opportunity to watch from home or record the meeting for a later time.
Why should residents give you their vote?
I am a product of this district, and the only Marple Newtown High School alumnus currently serving on the board. As a young person, someone who will be raising a family in this district, and will be sending my children to Marple Newtown public schools, I know that the decisions I make now will not only affect the current students, but the future students, my children.
Further, I have a unique background as a former member of the Board of Governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. In this capacity I, along with 19 other citizens, were responsible for overseeing the 14 state universities in Pennsylvania which consisted of 120,000 students worked with seven different unions and maintained an operating budget of $1.5 billion dollars.
My experience in higher education gives me a distinct outlook on knowing what colleges and universities are looking for in today’s high school graduates. It also gives me the foundational experience needed to be successful as a school board member. It is with these experiences and outlook that I believe I am a qualified candidate to serve our district as a member of the Board of School Directors.