Name: Matthew A. DeNucci, IV
Municipality: Newtown Township
Running For: Marple Newtown Board of School Directors
Positions Held Previously/Years in Office: I am currently seeking my first elected office.
What are the larger issues facing the district and how would you like to see them resolved?
The largest issue facing the Marple Newtown School District is the ever increasing cost associated with providing quality education. Primarily, the costs of health care benefits and pensions are increasing at a staggering pace. In order to meet those needs, it will be necessary to thoughtfully and critically examine how our budget dollars are spent in order to ensure that there is no waste. A key component of any comprehensive strategic plan for the district will be the analysis of projected future expenditures, including as many potential contingencies as possible.
The influx of new development in Newtown Township will certainly bring with it new sources of revenue. However, it would be foolhardy to count on revenue not yet realized. Simply stated, we must find inventive ways to be more efficient with our budget dollars.
Another key issue facing the school district at this time is the implementation of new state-mandated curriculum standards. The challenge is in implementing the changes necessary to be compliant with state requirements without disrupting or compromising the ultimate objective, which, of course, is educating and preparing our children and giving students the tools they need to succeed.
A critical component to ensuring we are delivering the educational content our students need is consistent communication between teachers, administrators, parents and school board members. By communicating, we can monitor our success in implementing curriculum changes and adjust if and when necessary. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania sets curriculum standards, but it is our responsibility to ensure that our children are thriving in the educational environment we have created.
How would you create a balance between spending taxpayer dollars and quality education?
In trying to strike a balance between spending tax payer dollars and providing a quality education, I would start with a commitment to continue providing all that our students, parents, teachers and administrators have come to expect and with an eye towards maximizing the value of every tax dollar. With that mindset as a starting point, I would assist the many stakeholders in the district in formulating a comprehensive strategic plan. The first step in developing that strategic plan is to define our vision for the future of the school district. The only way we can truly measure our success is to have a solid and definitive understanding of what it is we are trying to accomplish.
The critical determination that needs to be made is, what do the residents of Marple Newtown School District need from their school system? Next, we must ask, what do the residents of Marple Newtown School District want for their school system? Those are two very distinct questions. But, the answers to those questions will define where we go from here. As I have said before, it is my sincere belief that by working together towards a shared vision we can achieve greater things and satisfy all constituents.
How can you improve school district and board transparency with residents?
The only way to improve school district and board transparency with residents is to encourage residents to participate in the process of governing the school district and to actually mean it. Every woman, man and child who lays their head at night in Marple Newtown has a vested interest in the policies and procedures implemented by their school directors. Accordingly, school directors should be directly available to residents
Additionally, it is imperative to publicize the time, date, place and agenda of public meetings. Committee meetings of the school board occur on the second and third Tuesday of every month, with the general voting meetings of the school board being held on the fourth Tuesday of every month. These meetings are held in the Board Room of the Marple Newtown School District Administration Center, located at West Chester Pike & Media Line Rd., Newtown Square, PA. This information is available on the Marple Newtown School District website.
I am also a late adopter, but huge proponent of social media. I believe the school board should have a Facebook page that concerned residents can "like" and follow to stay abreast of new developments and issues related to the school district.
Finally, in conjunction with the development of a comprehensive strategic plan for the school district, I believe that several community liaisons, representing distinct interests including parents, senior citizens, business owners, students and teachers should be appointed to assist in the plan’s development. Including input from a diverse demographic set is critical to ensuring that all residents are well served by the school board.
Why should residents give you their vote?
As a 16-year resident of Newtown Square, I have built a life in this community with my wife, Kristen, and our two children, Matthew, 3, and Cecilia, 5. The house that my family lives in was built in the 1940s by my grandfather. Looking at pictures of the house being built and pictures of Newtown Square in the 1940s I am struck by how much things have changed. But, when reflecting on the reasons that led my grandparents to put down roots here, I am struck by all the things that have not changed—namely the sense of community that exists here. While Newtown Square was once simply the place I lived, it has become my home.
Public service is my life’s calling. Since graduating from Widener University School of Law in 2009 I have been employed as an Assistant District Attorney in Delaware County. Every day I have the privilege of serving the residents of Delaware County by prosecuting individuals who have committed crimes in our jurisdiction.
Prior to attending law school, I completed my undergraduate and graduate schooling at Neumann University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Computer Science in 2002, and a Master of Science degree in Strategic Leadership in 2004. Education is extremely important to me and it is my belief that knowledge is a gift to be shared in the service of others. In that spirit of service to others, it is my desire to serve my neighbors as a School Director of the Marple Newtown School Board.
Coming from an educational background based in the law and strategic leadership, I believe that I have a unique skill set that will prove useful to the school board and to all residents of the school district. Once elected, I will strive to improve upon the quality of education, facilities and programs offered to our children in a fiscally responsible manner.
My wife, Kristen, is a special education teacher employed by Upper Darby School District. I understand the demands that are placed on teachers today. I have two school-aged children. I understand what parents need and want for their kids. I am a homeowner and taxpayer. I understand the correlation between quality of education and property value, as well as the correlation between services provided and the costs of those services to residents of the district.
It is my desire to make Marple Newtown School District the preeminent school district in Delaware County and to provide the best possible education for our children. I am certain that I can assist in achieving those goals. It would be my honor and privilege to serve as a member of the Marple Newtown School Board and I humbly ask for your support on November 5, 2013.