There are a lot of ways that I attempt to gauge public opinion. I talk with neighbors and other parents. I receive input and advice from several prominent community members. I have even been known to randomly ask people questions in the store.
Moreover, I also try to prioritize voices, and will tend to avoid contact with lobbying groups outside of the Board environment. The loudest voices often don’t represent the interest of the majority. I empathize with retirees and taxpayers. Additionally, I try to place Octorara in perspective compared to other local districts.
After winning my first term, I also conducted an independent survey. While it was not scientific, it did provide some valuable insights.
Octorara received high marks in some areas, and the majority agreed that:
- The Octorara campus is safe.
- The schools look and feel like a place where learning occurs.
- I have the opportunity for involvement in the schools.
- School facilities are clean and well maintained.
- Octorara does a good job teaching basic skills.
- My student has a close relationship with at least one adult at the school.
The District struggled in other areas. The majority of respondents disagreed with these statements:
- The school offices are well run.
- Octorara has high standards for my student’s academic achievement.
- Octorara is a caring and nurturing place.
- Overall, Octorara is a good place to learn.
- My student’s school work and homework assignments are meaningful.
- Student discipline is fair.
- Octorara provides individualized instruction for my student.
The Top 5 Most Important Issues Were:
- Accountability at every stage of schooling.
- Transparency, so parents and the public can discover how the school is serving their pupils.
- Higher expectations for all students.
Creating responsible budgets that represent a commitment to both fiscal discipline and educational excellence,
- Holding teachers and administrators responsible for student performance.
Those of you who followed my original campaign, and my first term in office, know that I have focused a spotlight on issues like Accountability, Reading & Literacy, Special Education, School Funding, Responsible Budgets, and Transparency. While sometimes confrontational and aggressive, I provided a voice to those who are rarely heard. Although these came across to me as the most important issues to parents and taxpayers, other Board Members often disagreed.
Another way I gauge public interest and opinion is this website and the reactions to my individual articles. I look at total page views, social shares, commenting here and on social media, how quickly a post spreads, and other bits of information. Sometimes, something I think is really important goes nowhere. Other times, something I didn’t think is all that important will take off. Consequently, it helps me by improving my understanding of what the community finds the most important.
Top 10 Blog Posts from the Last 4 Years
1. Gunshots Fired by Octorara’s Campus Security – While relatively new, this blog entry is the most viewed of all time. Moreover, there was more social engagement than any other. It is no wonder other Board members felt the need to attack me for it. Parents were not at all happy they were not notified about the shooting incident.
2. Boy Scouts Attacked on Octorara Campus – Back in April 2015, an atheist group demanded that Octorara stop allowing the Boy Scouts of America to make presentations. The Board was united in standing fast, and I publicly defended the Boy Scouts against the claims of discrimination.
3. Why You Need to Pay Attention to Next Week’s Octorara Board Vote – This was my long rant about spending to refurbish the track and the inability of the Board to distinguish a want from a need. By the way, even though the track is built, this issue is still ongoing.
4. Octorara Passes West Chester for Teachers Salaries – Written when I was a candidate in 2013, Octorara’s high labor costs is one of our biggest issues, and our average salaries are way out of line with our area to this day.
5. Board Votes to Increase Property Tax Rate to Limit – The June 2015 property tax vote is not unusual, but seemed to take some people off guard. Apparently, other Board members were telling people in the public not to listen to the claims of a tax hike on this website.
6. Octorara Board Receives Capacity Crowd Amid Controversy – Now, I will have to say, I was a bit shocked that anyone found this issue important. Another Board Member made a comment about a play’s adult themes and asked about doing more family-friendly productions. Some people were genuinely outraged.
7. Octorara’s Libraries, Track Spending, and Locker Rooms – The 2016-2017 Budget is one I still hear about, and people are rightly upset. After years of being told by some Board Members that we had no financial problems, the Board raised taxes to the limit and made large cuts from the budget, including the K6 Librarian.
8. Octorara 2016-2017 Budget Passes 7-2, Taxes Increase – The anger over the 2016-2017 Budget continued, but there was a tone deafness to the parents upset about the K6 Librarian and the unwillingness to look at other options.
9. An Interesting Outcome to Octorara Track Vote – Remember when the track work was not supposed to start until the Feild Development Task Force had their portion? Well, the track is done, and the Feild Development Task Force slow walked payment, and a portion is still owed.
10. Octorara’s $2 Million Deficit, Budget Cuts, and Tax Increases – This is the third post in the Top 10 about the 2016-2017 Budget and the cuts. However, our financial issues still continue.
All in all, Budgets, Taxes, and Transparency rise to the very top of discussions. That said, over the last four years, citizens have become more active. I am seeing more and more people willing to scream out, “I’m mad as heck and I am not going to take it anymore!” And the more activist the citizenry becomes, the more the Board feels the pressure to make real and productive changes.
The Principles and Goals Timothy Alexander Supports
- I support parents’ right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing.
- I reject a one-size-fits-all approach to education and support a broad range of choices for parents and children.
- I believe in parent-driven accountability at every stage of schooling, higher expectations for all students and reject the bigotry of low expectations.
- I support the need for strong assessments to serve as a tool so teachers can tailor their teaching to meet student needs.
- I support legislation so that Districts can have the flexibility to innovate and to hold accountable all those responsible for student performance.
- I believe our district should make use of teaching talent in the business community, STEM fields, and the military.
- I believe Pennsylvania’s rigid tenure system should be replaced with a merit-based approach in order to attract the best talent to the classroom.
- I believe all personnel who interact with school children should be held to the highest standards of personal conduct.
Why I am Asking for Another 4 Years
I am asking for your vote on May 16th to keep the pressure on for change. I am asking for your vote to be the voice of retirees who cannot continue to see their property taxes go up. I am asking for your vote for the young family who wanted to live in this community, but was forced to buy their home somewhere else. I am asking for your vote for the children who need a school district committed to accountability at every stage of schooling, affirms higher expectations for all students, and rejects the crippling bigotry of low expectations.
On May 16th, please come out to vote for Timothy Alexander and Rocco Pirozzi Jr. Octorara’s high taxes and underperforming schools are directly and negatively affecting the whole community. A vote for Timothy and Rocco is a vote for responsible budgets, for stopping the massive tax increases, for reading and education fundamentals, for special needs students, for greater accountability, and for transparency.