Octorara Makes Second Board Appointment This Year

Octotrara Makes Second Board Appointment This Year

The Octorara Board of Directors held their Facilities and Policy Committees Meetings and Work Session Meeting was held on Monday, August 8, 2016. All members were in attendance.

Additionally. the Octroara School Board of Directors held a Special Meeting to interview and discuss candidates to replace Linda Bicking, who has announced she is resigning her position effective August 15, 2016. The Board received one qualifying candidate. Two other residents submitted their names, but they did not live within the actual voting Region.

Regardless, the Board received the resume of and submitted questions to William Kloss, Atglen resident for 7 years. Mr. Kloss received his Bachelor’s from Paul Smith’s College in Paul Smiths, New York, and a Master of Business Administration from Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Moreover, he has held progressive positions with Wawa Inc. and is currently a Project Manage for New Foodservice Initiatives.

In addition to his education and career background, Kloss has a history of community service that includes:

  • Board of Deacons, Penningtonville Presbyterian Church
  • Atglen Borough Zoning Board
  • School District of Philadelphia: C&T Industry Advisor Committee Member
  • OABEST Expo: Volunteer
  • Good Works Inc.: Volunteer
  • Philabundance Fare & Square Market: Consultant

From the interview process, I walked away with the impression that Mr. Kloss is committed to responsible budgets that balance educational excellence and fiscal restraint, ensuring an efficient use of taxpayers’ dollars. However, only time will tell how that translates into action and the actual positions he will take. Overall, at least on paper, Kloss has the potential to be an exceptional Board Member.

Dr. Newcome informed the Board of his experience with Mr.Kloss, and stated that Kloss was instrumental in facilitating Wawa’s participation with the OABEST Expo. Prior to his application, my only knowledge of Mr. Kloss was from a Board Meeting in 2013, but this was before I was a Board Member. Mr. Kloss spoke to the Board about the financial issues facing the District but attacked charter schools as a prime cause. Sheri Melton, a Board Member at the time, insisted that Dr. Newcome clear up some of Mr. Kloss’ misconceptions. 

While the Board did vote to appoint Mr. Kloss until the next election, which will be in November 2017, he did not receive the position on his merits. Kloss asked during the Special Meeting what kind of person the Board was looking for, and the response from one member was, “a warm body,” This is the unfortunate reality. He was not the best candidate. He was the only candidate.

I appreciate that Mr. Kloss is willing to sacrifice his time and share his experience with the Octroara Area School District. I am also thankful to the 2 other candidates who submitted their resumes, but were ultimately not qualified because of being outside the voting Region. Nonetheless, this is another example of too few people willing to step up. Ultimately, the members of the Octorara Area School Board do not represent the will of the community, because there is no competition for these positions and voters have no choice. So, keep that in mind when the next wave of budget cuts and tax increases occur… just sayin.

6 thoughts on “Octorara Makes Second Board Appointment This Year

  1. Thanks to Mr. Kloss for stepping up and being willing to serve his school and community. I don’t think it’s fair to say that he doesn’t get the position on his merit. This does a disservice to his resume and past commitments to his community in many different venues. I think it is fair to say that the board and the community are lucky to have such a fine candidate step forward. I also don’t think it is fair to say the board doesn’t represent the will of the community simply because not enough people step up in your opinion, leaving a lack of competition. I think you could just as easily say that there is a lack of competition because the MAJORITY of the community supports the work the board is doing. Afterall, if competition for positions were the only criteria what would we say about the presidential race where there is in fact intense competition, but many people feel the quality of the candidates is lacking and doesn’t represent the majority of the population. With 17 candidates on one side and 2 intense candidates on the other there has in fact been intense competition, but what are we left with? Once again, a big thank you to Mr. Kloss who appears to be a wonderful choice with high merits. Sometimes, less is more!

    • Mr. Jones,

      I am sure it is no surprise that we disagree. First, he did not receive the position on his merit, unless by merit you mean no characteristics that would disqualify him or just his willingness to fill the position. Mr. Kloss had no competition and the Board is under a legal time constraint. Therefore, while he does have an impressive resume, he got it because he showed up.

      Moreover, only you (and those like-minded within the local political establishment) would try to spin voter apathy, in a bedroom community, as the majority of the community supporting the work the board is doing. However, I think the Presidential election analogy works, but your conclusion missed the mark. You may be watching too much MSNBC. The success of Bernie Sanders on the left and the nomination of Donald Trump by Republicans are a direct result of the political establishment working in the best interest of lobbyists, special interests, and their own inner circles. The political elite has ignored the needs of working people.

      In my opinion, this is the exact same thing happening at the school district level. Except, instead of lobbyists and special interests, we have boosters and task forces. What about crony capitalism? I think some would argue, myself included, the Signal 88 was awarded the security contract more because the owner was a former Board member with favorable connections, especially since they were the highest bid. Over the last 20 years, the average income of the typical person has gone down, but this school district has grown its budget and increased taxes more than any other suburban Philadelphia school district.

  2. I’m going to agree with Mr. Jones for a change. Mr. Kloss is more than qualified for the position. He’s an amazing husband and father, an attribute to the community and a great friend. I wish him well and thank him for his service to the community.

  3. When I saw an open position on the board William Kross was the first person who came to mind. My family has known him for many years and we are thrilled to have him represent the community and be a voice for our children.

  4. Mr. Alexander, clearly I am new to this, wondering exactly what qualifies you to cast judgements on people, speak for the community at large, and hold a board position? As a father of three in the district, I want what is best for my family.
    Since calling into question Mr. Kloss’s appointment, I am interested on how you were appointed.
    I’m sorry that I don’t have the time to step up to the plate as does Mr.Kloss. I’m not sure what “merit” is needed to be elected member of a school board. My understanding is a time commitment and willingness to work with other community members and make solid decisions for our children and tax payers is what are required.
    While I appreciate your viewpoints and time, your opinions are what dominate this blog. Please stick to the facts and allow people to make their own decisions.
    I am thankful Mr. Kloss and the other two applicants stepped up to the plate and wanted to make this better.
    Thank you also Mr. Alexander for doing the same.

    • Thank you for your comments,

      I want to address your concerns, point by point. What qualifies me to cast judgment is what gives any American the right to cast judgment on the policy positions and public actions of any government official… whether it is the President, a Senator, Congressman, Governor, County Commissioner. Borough Councilperson, or School Board Director. The only difference between me and most others is I have created a public space where I speak my mind, unhidden by an online alias.

      Like you, I am a parent with children in the District and want the best for my family. However, I am a father of 6. My oldest child started kindergarten at Octorara in 1996, I still have 3 currently in school, with my youngest having started kindergarten this year. You may disagree, but I feel I bring a unique perspective to the Board since I have directly had to deal with the school district so long, and will continue to be directly impacted and have direct interaction for some years to come. For me, how the district has changed over the last 20 years is not just hearsay and opinion but it is real, tangible, and quantitative.

      You asked how I was appointed to the Board. I wasn’t. I was elected by the people of Octorara’s Region 3 in one of the few competitive (competitive by Octorara’s standards) races for Octorara School Board. I won the Republican and Democratic nominations in May 2013 in an unusually competitive race, and then faced a write-in challenge in that November General Election from a former Parkesburg Borough Council President. If you go back a read my blog, one of my pet peeves is that Octorara tends not to have competitive races and too few step up, unlike some other area school districts.

      Also, I think if you go back and reread what I wrote, I never described Mr. Kloss as unqualified. My criticism is that he received the position without competition. In fact, I talked up his resume and his past community service. Nonetheless, he was “a warm body” to fill the seat… and that was not my comment. That was another Board member’s statement when asked what the Board was looking for in a candidate. Ultimately, that is the crux of the matter… since there was no competition, as long as Mr. Kloss was not unqualified, the position was his.

      Finally, the reason my opinions dominate this blog is because it is my blog. This is not a news website. It is not journalism. It is not meeting minutes. The purpose of this blog is for me to speak to my constituents and share my opinions on the issues facing the District. I use this blog to inform taxpayers of what I think needs to be done and why. There is no intent to be impartial, balanced, or give equal weight to opposing opinions. It is my soapbox. I have repeatedly encouraged other Board Members to start their own blogs, to speak more directly to their constituents, and make the policy and budgetary positions more public, but none have chosen to do that.

      One thing I think is important to keep in mind is that a school board is not an innocuous body. In fact, they have more direct impact on you (the general you) personally than almost any other government agencies. Their power to tax and spend, with few checks and balances, means they literally have the ability to tax people out of their homes. And in a small community, like Octorara, one bad decision can have a ripple effect for decades.

      The District my oldest son started at back in 1996 is very different than the one my youngest started in this year. I believe the over-zealous expansion of the District has negatively impacted both students and taxpayers. I believe the iPad program is more image over substance and keeping it forced cutting teacher positions. I believe the armed security guard is spending to provide a false sense of security to a vocal few. I believe the switch to full-day kindergarten did little to help the District but did close local private kindergarten programs… essentially becoming free daycare at taxpayer expense. And I could go on.

      Last year, the Board taxed up to our legal limit and still had to make significant cuts. However, that still did not balance the budget without using reserve/deficit spending. That was just the start. There are already plans to look at more cuts this year. However, even if we can squeak out this year without additional cuts, they are inevitable, We have a diminishing Reserve and Capital Expenditures Funds that must be maintained to ensure the financial health of the District. Our last teachers’ contract added almost $1 million to the budget that the District did not have and we must start looking into the future to the next contract, the current one ends next school year.

      I hope that addresses your concerns, However, as a parent with school-aged children, I encourage you to find the time to pay attention to what the board is doing on an ongoing basis. The decisions of the Board can and do have an impact on your children, your property value, outside investment into our local economy, and the community as a whole. School boards have a greater direct impact than any other level of government, Octorara is a ship slowly taking on water, and we need to stop ignoring the fact what we are sinking.

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