Three applicants, Shannon Patrick, David Sanders, and David Weikert, interviewed for the vacant ninth Bethlehem Area School District board seat in front of school directors Monday evening.
Each interviewee was asked the same questions, one from each member.
Patrick, originally from southern New Jersey, is an 11-year resident of the Bethlehem area who owns a doggie daycare business in the city. Mother of a 4-year-old, Patrick said she thinks district offers a wonderful education, but parents need to get more involved.
Financial challenges to the district are probably the biggest hurdle the district faces in coming years, she said, but finding ways of minimizing cuts and preserving programs for students should be a priority.
“My concern is these key activities that really mold a child are being cut,” Patrick said, adding that high school is where some kids really find themselves and have opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have.
“We need to think of different ways we can keep these sorts of things,” she said. “From what I've learned about Act I, there's ways you have to be creative financially. It's very frustrating to see the school budget needs to be done before the state budget, so you never know what you're getting.”
Sanders, a lifelong Bethlehem resident with several grandchildren, who currently serves on the Bethlehem Housing Authority, said students not only need to know about current technology, but also need to get back to basics.
“They need more writing (skills),” Sanders said. “Email leaves everything at children's fingertips.”
Despite this, he said, the district also needs to make sure the next generation is involved.
“It's easy to sit around and say 'remember when.' It's important to get young people involved,” Sanders said.
Weikert, a certified financial planner with three school-aged children whose wife is a district kindergarten teacher, said his best qualifications are being a good listener, a parent and having an open mind.
He added that he feels the district is headed in a good direction.
“I like what I see in this district,” Weikert said. “I like what Mr. Roy and Mr. Silva are doing. A close relationship that's not adversarial is important between the board and superintendent.”
If appointed, he'd do his best to get more of the community involved, he said.
“I think most reasonable people, if they're getting a good value for the money, and they can be involved, and they feel like their money is well spent, it makes it a little easier to pay those taxes,” he said.
The board will vote for one of the three to fill the vacant ninth board seat until the end of 2013 in at a special meeting, to be held next Monday, Dec. 19, at 6 p.m. at the BASD Education Center.