Six seek five seats on Parkland School Board
Six candidates — Jay Rohatgi, Carol L. Facchiano, Marisa Ziegler, David M. Kennedy, Patrick H. Foose and Lisa Roth — are running for the five open seats for a four-year term on the Parkland School Board.
Each has cross-filed on the Democrat and Republican tickets.
We asked the candidates the following question: What is your position on property tax reform, whereby taxes are replaced by other forms of revenue?
Rohatgi says he is a successful business leader and agent for positive change in his professional life.
With undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science, he uses technology to solve complex business problems in his work life.
He says his goal is to bring the same energy, strategic thinking, enthusiasm, and problem-solving ability to the Parkland School Board.
Rohatgi, who has two children in Parkland schools says he believes the academic stars deserve the same recognition as the star athletes.
He says if elected he will work tirelessly to restore and keep that balance.
A resident of Lehigh Valley for last 14 years, he lives in Upper Macungie Township with his wife and two children — a daughter and a son who are enrolled in Parkland High School and Springhouse Middle School, respectively.
Rohatgi is a director and industry principal for Pegasystems, a publicly listed enterprise software company.
His response to The Press question:
“Property taxes when levied fairly and monitored carefully have historically provided the best mechanism to fund our schools, local roads, and salaries for local government staff, police, and firefighters.
“Alternative mechanisms like vacancy tax, consumption tax, and other similar approaches have not resulted in consistent collections thus causing yearly budgetary headaches.
“States have proven untrustworthy in allocating funds for services that justified any additional taxes.
“As such, while I am willing to learn alternatives, as of now, property taxes – flawed as they are, remain the only reliable and proven source of income to fund our local essential services.”
Carol L. Facchiano
A 1986 graduate of Bloomsburg University with Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, accounting, Carol L. Facchiano has been a Parkland resident for 29 years.
She has been with the Parkland Aquatic Club for 12 years and is the office administrator.
She is the mother of three children. Michael is a 2008 of Parkland High School. Andrew graduated in 2010 and Adriana graduated in 2015.
Her response to The Press question:
“All Pennsylvania public school districts rely on the funds collected from local property taxes. The revenue that would be lost by eliminating property taxes would have a tremendous impact on the district’s budget.
“Unfunded state and federal mandates continue to increase the cost of education.
“I believe eliminating property taxes would negatively impact the district’s ability to provide essential programs to our students and our community.”
Marisa Ziegler has been a resident of Breinigsville for seven years.
A public school educator, she says she is a proud union member with 12 years of teaching experience in the Pennsylvania public school system.
She earned a Bachelor’s degree in elementary and early childhood education from Temple University, graduating summa cum laude in 2006.
She earned a Master’s degree in education with reading specialist certification from Kutztown University in 2011.
A parent of two young children in the district, Ziegler says she is invested in providing opportunities, resources, and a well-rounded curriculum that will help all students achieve their full potential now and in the future.
Her time as an educator and experience as a parent has confirmed her belief that we must look at the whole child when making decisions regarding the needs of students and school districts. To that end, as a school board director her top goals would be to:
Provide teachers and administrators with ongoing professional development necessary to reach district goals and ensure that we are reaching all students where they are and moving them forward to academic success.
“Completely eliminating property taxes would be devastating for our schools and our communities. Replacing property taxes with increased and expanded sales tax would shift the burden to individual taxpayers and away from big businesses.
“Paying higher income tax would unfairly shift the burden to younger generations and working families. In addition, public schools would be underfunded and that funding would not be reliable and consistent.
“I believe our solution is that the state government should increase the amount of money allotted for public school funding.
Pennsylvania ranks in the bottom five nationally in the percentage of funding that comes from the state.
“In addition, we need cyber charter reform. Cyber charter schools are given the same amount of public funds per student as brick and mortar charters despite having lower material costs.
“I am in full support of the bills recently introduced in the state house and state senate that would reform cyber charter funding.
David M. Kennedy
David M. Kennedy has served on the Parkland Board of School Directors for 22 years and is the immediate past president.
In the past, he has served on and been chair of the Academics, Arts and Athletics Committee and the Personnel and Salary Committee.
Currently, he is chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee. He has been a member of the Joint Operating Committee for Lehigh Career and Technical Institute for 22 years, having served eight years as president.
At present, he is vice chair of the South Whitehall Township Public Safety Commission and has been a member for 24 years.
He has been married for 47 years to a nurse who retired from Lehigh Career and Technical Institute. They have two children who are Parkland graduates.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Villanova University.
“With the present property tax reform bill, Parkland School District would suffer greatly. I would favor a bill that is revenue neutral without in any way adding taxes, fees or costs to our taxpayers.
“The state must do its fair share to fund schools across the commonwealth and to address the inequity of cyber and charter school funding in order that Parkland can continue to provide quality education and mandated services.”
Patrick H. Foose
Patrick Foose is a lifelong resident of the Lehigh Valley. He graduated from Moravian College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and political science.
At present, he is a direct support professional at Spectrum Community Services.
In that capacity, he takes individuals with special needs out into the community.
In addition, he is attending DeSales University, to earn a Master of Education degree in Secondary English and social studies.
Foose says he is running for Parkland School Board to ensure the children in the district receive the highest quality of education, while taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.
“Property tax needs to remain as a vital source of revenue for the Parkland School District. It is important to realize the local community is the largest stakeholder in the education system.
“According to the Reading Eagle, ‘56 percent of … [the revenue] was raised locally in 2016 … State funds [made] up about 38 percent of overall education funding.’
“The statistics don’t lie. In order to ensure the future generation receives the highest quality of education possible, it is up to the local community to fund each school district (while putting pressure on the state to increase its share of the burden).”
Lisa Roth has resided in Upper Macungie Township for 27 years
She has been employed by Air Products, Trexlertown, for 33 years. Married to Troy Roth, she is the mother of Jonathan Adams, who graduated Parkland in 2008; Ryan Adams, who graduated in 2011; Michael Adams, who graduated in 2013.
Her stepson Zachary Roth is currently a Parkland High school and LCTI sophomore.
“The Pennsylvania Constitution reads ‘The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the commonwealth.’
“Unfortunately, most of our General Assembly do not place the education of our children as a high enough priority these days. If property taxes were eliminated, and we became strictly state and federally funded, Parkland would no doubt have to cut back on the environment that our students are thriving in.
“I believe we need to keep that valuable commodity in the hands of its community and its elected school board members — who also need to be fiscally responsible on behalf of the whole community.”