Incumbents dominate school board field

By on October 30, 2013

By:

PATRICK BURNS Review Staff

, Staff Writer

Five candidates are seeking four open Ephrata Area School Board director positions.

The race Tuesday features Democrat Suzanne Delahunt, from Ephrata, and four long-time GOP incumbent board members.

That list includes 16-year incumbents Glenn R. Martin, of Clay Township; Jennifer L. Miller, of Akron; Robert Miller, of Ephrata; and the current board president Timothy Stayer, of Akron, who has been on the board for 12 years.

Delahunt, a Democratic Committee person for South Clay Township, said her goal is to "maintain a clear vision of the future, and not become bogged down in partisan fighting."

"A change is needed in the Ephrata School Board and a difference of opinion is in order," Delahunt said. "It is time for a breath of fresh air."

Safety in schools also provides the proper learning environment that is vital to both students and educators, she said.

"I favor increased staffing of guidance counselors in all of our Ephrata schools, they hold the front line, and our students need them," Delahunt said. "Bullying, violence, and the use of guns in our schools must be dealt with, while our schools still remain a bastion of safety for all."

A former resident of the Brooklyn area of New York, she taught music for 18 years working for the New York City Department of Education. Delahunt presently serves as a long term substitute teacher in Cornwall-Lebanon, where she directs the middle school and high school choral program.

She also teaches music for the 21st Century after-school program in the Lebanon School District and has previously worked as a long-term music teaching sub at Hershey Elementary, Horace Harding Elementary in Lebanon, Lincoln Middle School, Lafayette Elementary in Lancaster City and Lebanon Middle School and in special education for Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13.

"I possess excellent organizational skills, knowledge of budgets and funding, insight into schools, curriculum, and child behavior and development," Delahunt said. "My life has prepared me well for serving as a member of the Ephrata School Board."

Glenn Martin said his motivation to run for a fifth-term on the board has changed from 16 years ago when he sought "to be involved in our children’s educational process."

Though his four children have graduated from Ephrata, Martin said his experience on the board compels him to serve again.

"As I served the past 16 years on the board, I have had the opportunity to influence the operation of the school," Martin said. "My experience over the past years allows me to understand how the school functions and therefore my input on this board is of greater value."

Martin, an ordained minister and self-employed carpenter, said during his time as director, the district has: promoted policies to increase student achievement; controlled the budget; steered legislative decision-making through PSBA, and launched the Ephrata Virtual Academy.

"I feel funding continues to be an ongoing situation because of federal and state mandates and cyber charter schools," Martin said. "Taxpayer dollars are being used to pay for charter schools, thus taking valuable dollars away from the public schools."

Stayer said his inspiration to run for a fourth term is unchanged from his first run for the board in November 2001.

"To become involved and make a positive difference for our community and our students," he said.

Stayer has worked since 1980 with Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. and currently serves as corporate safety and risk manager. His son graduated from Ephrata High School in 2010.

He said the Ephrata board has become "more effective and efficient" during the last several years while he has served as president.

"I see the Ephrata Area School District as the leader in school board effectiveness, community diplomacy and, in outstanding student achievement."

Stayer said it is important now to focus on enabling future administrators and board members to operate the schools "in such a way that together, student achievement and performance continues to grow, while doing it in a cost-effective and efficient manner."

Stayer said his goals include "improving the Ephrata, Akron, Clay and Ephrata Township communities to be the community of choice to live in and attend school.

"And to make the Ephrata Area School District a premiere educator as considered by its peers," Stayer said.

Robert Miller hinted that his fifth race for school board director may be his last. A win would allow Miller to hand a diploma to his third child, who will graduate in 2014 from Ephrata High School.

He said it is important that everyone give back to the community in whatever way they can.

"So for me, my service to the community was to serve the school board, I have no political aspirations after this," he said.

Miller said a school board’s mission in an era of a global environment is to prepare students to compete with other nations.

"Of course the quality of education also plays a role in the health of the community as well," Miller said.

Miller has built Tree of Life Health — a natural health company doing pioneering work on genetic issues particularly with Amish and Mennonite communities – in facilities in Ephrata and Gap. He worked previously for 30 years with Blue Ridge Communications.

He said the biggest challenge facing local government and school boards is paying for retirees.

"One of the biggest challenges is paying for the retirement fund, so more and more dollars are going to support retirees with less available for education," he said. "So we’re really going to have to be innovative to continue to offer a quality education with fewer dollars available."

Jennifer Miller did not respond to requests for information from the Ephrata Review for this article.

More SCHOOL ELECTION, page A15

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