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GASD School Board Candidates — Fall 2021 Municipal Election

Seven candidates are on the ballot for the Gettysburg Area School District board of directors.

They are:

Jeremy Davis (Republican)
Kenny Hassinger (Republican/Democrat; Incumbent)
Ryan J. Morris (Republican)
Jimmy Phelps (Democrat)
John Ramirez (Democrat)
Carrie Adams Soliday (Democrat; Incumbent)
Michelle Smyers (Republican)

We asked each of the candidates to share their information, but unfortunately only 3 of the seven have responded to us. 

Here is the candidate information we have:

 

John Ramirez
Democrat
School Board Director Gettysburg Area School District

What I will do to make a difference for my constituents

School Director Position:
I am running for the position of School Director in the Gettysburg Area School District because I feel that my background and skill set can be utilized in collaboration with the experience of the other members of the Board in striving to meet the vision and goals of the students, parents, community and Superintendent of Schools.
Many experts have projected the difficulty our students will have returning to regular in-class instruction. It has been noted that some students may have regressed during the past year due to the change in their learning environments. There will be challenges to all in the school system once schools are able to open completely. The challenge for the Board and the Superintendent will be to help navigate this transition seeking to regain student academic success and a return to educational normalcy. Although the Board does not run the district it strives to ensure that the district is well-run.
I realize that I am just one vote among nine and that my role will be to contribute to the discussion whenever I can and be open to learn from the collective experiences of the Board. My primary goal will be to help maintain and improve the physical safety, cognitive development, academic achievement and career goals of all the students within our district. These objectives should be consistent with established professional and educational principles of “Best Practices” as established by the Superintendent, School Board, professional faculty, and all school personnel. Above all, I seek to find common ground and focus on what can be agreed upon by promoting honest and respectful dialogue among the Board, school staff and the community.
In conclusion, although students may have different learning styles, I believe that all students can learn. Our students remain the most important constituents in our public education system.

My prior experience

Background, Experience, and Education:
I was born and raised in Upper Manhattan, New York City. My parents were from Puerto Rico. As an undergraduate I became interested in psychology while working in a community mental health program and at a drug treatment detoxification and maintenance program in the Bronx, New York.
Working as an assistant nursery school teacher in an innovative therapeutic nursery school program for children of schizophrenic mothers I realized the importance and impact that a male teacher and a positive role model could have on young children at risk.
My early interest in psychology was combined with education leading me to earn a teaching certificate in N thru 6. I completed my student teaching in a 3rd grade classroom. I worked in a special drug awareness program in a high school and later earned a Guidance Counselor Certificate. In addition to teaching in New York and New Jersey colleges, I held several positions in higher education administration as a Registrar, Financial Aid Advisor, and Academic Counselor. I earned my Master of Arts in Psychology and Master in Education in Applied Human Development and Guidance from Teachers College, Columbia University.
I retired in 2011 after 20 years as an Associate Professor from the Department of History and Social Science from Middlesex County College in New Jersey where I facilitated the learning of up to 480 students per year. My teaching responsibilities included Psychology, Education, and Student Development classes, both in-person and on-line. After retirement, my wife and I moved to Gettysburg, “The best small town in America,” where her family lives. For the last several years I have volunteered at local organizations and participated in many community, cultural, and social activities.


 

Carrie Adams Soliday
Democrat
School Board Director Gettysburg Area School District

What I will do to make a difference for my constituents

There are typically two specific pathways for school board members to make a difference for constituents – 1) in school board sub-committees and 2) school board meetings. To effectively use those pathways, it is important for a school board member to listen to all stakeholders and it is important to prepare for all school board meetings by reading all documents and asking questions. Listening to constituents, such as community members, parents, and students of the school district, happens in interactions throughout the community, during public comment, letters to the board, survey results, and so on… In listening to constituents there are consistent concerns about the lack of diversity among school staff, the health and wellness of students, frustrations with the 2020-21 educational model, school tax rates, and how tax dollars are spent. There are solutions to all of the concerns and most of the topics listed are routinely addressed. The one topic that has not been addressed in board subcommittee meetings or board meetings is the diversity of the GASD staff. Students of color make up greater than 20% of the school population yet there is only one teacher of color in the district. In pondering why this is the case, I do not believe a solution will come about in the usual way – through a board subcommittee or action (vote) during a board meeting. The solution lies in how GASD will attract highly qualified teachers/staff of color to job openings. This might begin with reinventing a club like Future Teachers of America at the high school, inviting students to join the Early Learning Program at Adams County Technical Institute, ensuring job postings are in media sources beyond Adams County, etc… If elected I will continue to listen, to use the typical pathways of solving issues such as board subcommittee meetings and board action. I will also explore an atypical pathway to find a solution for attracting a more diversified candidate pool and I would volunteer to reinvent a club like Future Teachers of America to inspire students to consider joining the education profession.

My prior experience

The role of the school director is to hire/evaluate the superintendent, approve the superintendent’s budget, and set board policy. In school board meetings and board subcommittee meetings there are opportunities to influence the school district budgets, the superintendent’s short-term and long-range plans for the district, and board policy all while staying within the guide rails of Pennsylvania school law and federal policies. Understanding school law, school budgets, respecting those employed by the school district, knowing how to ask questions, and working collaboratively with the other 8 board members are key skills in serving as a board member. Over the last 5 years, I have honed those skills while serving on the Gettysburg Area School District Board of Directors as well as the Adams County Technical Institute Joint Operating Committee. I understand decisions made by past board members, the long-term plans of the District, and what is needed for the district to evolve with the changing dynamics of education. Additionally, I have worked in K-12 public education for 30 years leading large-scale, multi-agency projects while also ensuring every student has the resources needed to succeed. In my professional role, I support the PA Department of Education, schools across the state as well as locally to bring about needed change. My decision-making is influenced by a commitment to ensuring all students have a high-quality educational experience, a conservative and responsible lens on the use of tax-payer funded resources, a willingness to learn from those with different perspectives, and a heart of service to our community. The GASD systems of which my dad, my children, and I are all alumni have changed over time and will need to continue to change to meet the community expectations for future graduates. To see those changes come about there needs to continuity in board membership. I can bring continuity, experience, and qualified skills to the Gettysburg Area School District Board of Directors.


 

Jimmy Phelps
Democrat
School Board Director Gettysburg Area School District

What I will do to make a difference for my constituents

I would love to see the school district find new ways to encourage communication with families so that families have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the issues facing our district. Personally, I will reach out to friends and neighbors as well as make myself available to talk to any parents or others invested in the well-being of our students. Depending on the issue, I would seek out the opinions of individuals who know more about a certain topic or field. In addition, I will continue to use my candidate Facebook page to interact with the community throughout my tenure on school board.

My prior experience

I am proud to volunteer throughout my community. I am currently a GARA (Gettysburg Area Recreation Authority) board member as well as an assistant scout leader for Boy Scout Troop 79 and an assistant coach with Gettysburg Cal Ripken Baseball. I have been a parent volunteer at Lincoln Elementary School for over five years and have helped coach a Franklin Township Little League Baseball team for several seasons. Last summer I designed and led the construction of the bicycle pump track at the Gettysburg Rec Park. I care very much about our community and speak routinely with members of numerous organizations and individual citizens in order to address issues and concerns in our area.

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  • I recommend voting for Carrie Adams Soliday, John Ramirez, Kimmy Phelps and Kenny Hassinger. This is a VERY important vote. Thank you, Hugh and Nell Matthews

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