2015 Election Results and School Performance Comparisons

2015 Octorara Area School Board Election Results

How many remembered last Tuesday was election day for school districts and municipalities? Starting in December, the Octorara Area School Board will see a significant change. There will be three new members, or 33% of the Board. Leon Lapp, Sheri Melton, and Shawna Johnson chose not to run, and left their seats undefended. Unfortunately, excluding myself, these were the three most fiscally responsible members.

Below are the unofficial results.

           LINDA BICKING (REP)

           LISA BOWMAN (DEM/REP)

           BRIAN P FOX (DEM/REP)

While it is generally true that those running saw no competition, either in the Primary or General Elections, there was an impromptu, last minute write-in campaign in Octorara’s Region 1. Anthony Falgiatore, supported by the Board’s Vice President Brian Norris, threw his name into the ring less than a week before election day.

Falgiatore‎/Norris Campaign Falgiatore ran focused on supporting school safety, enrichment and sports programs, and teachers. The effort of Falgiatore and Norris was to keep newcomer Stephen Spoto off the Board. Spoto is a fiscal conservative who ran on the issues of responsible budgets, taxes and school accountability. You may recall Spoto spoke out against armed security at several Board Meetings leading up to the June 2014 Board vote.

The effort is reminiscent of 2013 and the last minute write-in campaign of David Jones, former Borough of Parkesburg Council President, who had the endorsement of several incumbent Board Members, and was the running-mate of Nelson Stoltzfus. That was another attempt to keep a fiscal conservative, running on issues of responsible budgets, taxes and school accountability, off the Board—yours truly.

In my opinion, Stephen Spoto’s victory is a big win for students and taxpayers. It should bring us a step closer to creating more responsible budgets, getting control of property taxes, diminishing the influence of special interests, and changing Octorara’s culture of low expectations for school performance.

2014-2015 School Performance Profile Comparisons

At Monday’s work session meeting, Elena Wilson, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, gave the Board and public a presentation on the School Performance Profile Scores. I have included the comparisons Wilson provided in her presentation. It includes each of the school districts adjacent to Octorara, plus Phoenixville, Lampeter-Strasburg, and Avon Grove Charter. Phoenixville and Lampeter-Strasburg seem a little out of place, but no big deal.

School 2014 2015 Score +/-
Unionville 98.2 87.5 -10.7
Kennett 88.5 86.1 -2.4
Lampeter-Strasburg 98.1 82.9 -13.2
Pequea Valley 83.2 80.0 -3.2
Avon Grove 87.6 76.7 -10.9
Phoenixville 75.7 75.5 -0.2
Avon Grove Charter 72.8 67.5 -5.3
Oxford 63.1 66.2 3.1
Solanco 70.1 65.0 -5.1
Octorara 65.6 64.2 -1.4
Coatesville 62.5 58.0 -4.5

Several things of note here. First is that schools with only PSSA grade configurations have no academic scores for 2014-2015, caused primarily by last minute changes to PSSA cut scores. This means that the PLC, Elementary, and Intermediate Schools did not receive a score this year. Schools like the Octorara Jr/Sr High School had their scores based on Keystones, with the PSSA data excluded.

Also, this year’s scores where impacted by “Indicators of Closing the Achievement Gap”. With the exception of Science/Biology, the areas were not scored last year for benchmarking purposes. The sections represent the success or failure in closing the achievement gap for students, meaning the gap between those who are performing proficient and above, and those scoring basic and below.

The only area which Octorara scored well was Science/Biology, receiving a score of 100. The school scored 36.78 Percent Proficient or Advanced on PSSA/Keystone in 2014, and “improved” to 44.37 in 2015. Octorara received a 0.00 score in each of the other areas. When you are at the bottom, there is no place to go but up… right?

In Other News…

The replacement boilers and hot water heaters have been installed at the Elementary School, and are working. Maintenance has inspected the heating systems in each of the other schools, and found them to be in good shape. They did find some maintenance needs, but nothing that would cause another catastrophic failure or require the Board to look at replacement in the near future.

The board is also considering the upgrade and replacement of multiple security cameras that have reaching the end of their lifespans. The life expectancy of these devices are 8-10 years, and Octorara has squeezed out up to 15 years with some. The cost is expected to be around $84,000 and will come from the Capital Fund.


6 thoughts on “2015 Election Results and School Performance Comparisons

  1. With all due respect Mr. Alexander, you still don’t have a clue why I ran for office. You also clearly don’t understand the impact of my campaign. You got into the race very early on and wound up on the ballot for both Democrats and Republicans. This meant that no matter what, you would receive all of the votes from “anyone” voting a straight party ticket on either side of the isle (many of whom didn’t have a clue who you are or what you stand for). Without that distinction and those straight party votes, you would not have won the seat you now occupy and I don’t think you ever really grasped that idea. Anyone and everyone who voted for me had to actually know who I am and what I stand for and actually write my name on the ballot and forgo voting straight party.
    You always criticized the votes of board members you didn’t agree with prior to getting on the board yourself. Back then, some of us with experience in elected office tried to counsel you that sometimes you have to make tough choices between the lesser of two evils and that criticizing decisions in hind sight was opportunistic at best. At the same time some of us told you that once you got into office you would see this for yourself. Low and behold this is exactly the justification you gave for voting in favor of the teachers’ contract. Pretty ironic given all of your past criticisms.
    I did not run for office to keep a fiscal conservative off of the board and I said that very clearly at the time. I ran because I saw YOU as a “disruptive personality” that would not be able to build a consensus and therefore be ineffective regardless of your fiscal positions. I ran because I totally disagree with the concept that compromise is a dirty word. I ran because I thought I would do a better job in the position and that I had far more experience in ‘making’ tough decisions. I ran because in my experience I had been appointed to public positions by Republican Governors and Democratic Governors who knew I had the skills to get things done and that I would not hold up governing to forward my own positions to the detriment of the good for all. I told you numerous times that I disagreed with your litigation attempts with the board. I served on Borough Council with Sheri Melton and we worked closely together to govern responsibly. I don’t know anything about the person who ran a write-in campaign this time around and that has nothing to do with me or why I ran two years ago. To try to draw similarities between the two campaigns is just you once again trying to personalize issues rather than understanding that people who don’t agree with you have the right and responsibility to stand up for what they believe in. You voted the exact same way I would have voted for the teachers’ contract and the exact same way contracts have been approved for a very long time. You see, it doesn’t matter at the end of the day whether you are a fiscal conservative or a democrat as I am, what matters is getting the best for the district and the kids. So please, don’t keep bringing up my name, especially characterizing my motives as if you know me, because you clearly do not.

    • The only “disruptive personality” I have seen is Brian Norris, and many of us are thankful for Tim’s personal sacrifice to try everything in his power to keep our taxes down, and be the “no” vote for wrongful spending.


      David when you ride your bicycle on the road and through town you are required to stop at every stop sign, and I have you on film running 5 stops with your wife, and you didn’t even look to see if any cars were coming from the direction without a stop sign. Just wanted to give you a heads up before you cause an accident.

    • Mr Jones… with all due respect, one spending action in 2 years that we may have ultimately voted the same on does not prove your point. And most certainly, our reasoning would not have been the same. I remember your outrage and ranting when Mr Lapp made his largely symbolic vote against a group of teachers being awarded tenure. You lost your mind, despite the fact there was nothing Mr Lapp could have actually done to stop it. I believe you are a tax-and-spender, and I also believe your time on Parkesburg Borough Council supports that idea.

      I really do think hindsight is an overused and boring excuse. The Board had the business manager’s projections of deficits and negative Reserve balance for a while… the board was warned during the 2014-15 budget process that allowing the budget to grow 3-3.5%, at the same time they were keeping taxes flat, would accelerate our financial problems. That report and warning was ultimately ignored, with an attitude they were just numbers on a page. Hindsight suggests “if we knew then what we know now.” I can go issue by issue where the facts were there, just ignored. Those projections are manifesting, and now everyone acts like they did not know this day was coming… but will still want to vote like it is not here.

      I really hoped to see you on the ballot this year, Mr Jones. I had hoped there was something substantive about your 2013 write-in campaign, but there wasn’t. Instead, this year, within the Primary, we had one new person who worked and took the time to get their name on the ballot. One person for three open seats. Other districts in Chester County have real elections, with people actually having to run on issues… but not here in Octorara.

      I know you have spent time trying to disqualify and diminish the voters who put me in office. You did it immediately after the election, and you’re still doing it today. How sad. In your world… some voters are just not legitimate. But maybe… just maybe… the voters realized you had no real interest in improving the district, and that you got into the race for all the wrong reasons… just to shoot down the one person who dared to publicly challenge the local political establishment. Maybe voters also blame you, at least in part, for Parkesburg’s high property taxes. Who knows? But you did have the chance to dispel those ideas and run again, and you didn’t.

  2. Well said, Tim. And shame on Mr. Norris for being at our polling place trying to persuade voters not to vote for Mr. Spoto..not a tactic that showed good character or worked to his advantage.

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