Harry Snyder-North Penn Stronger Together
What inspired you to run for North Penn School Board? Anything specifically related to
the current Board’s decisions over the last year?
I decided to run for School Board Director after learning that the current School Board decided not to open North Penn Schools to in-person learning and my wife and I watched our son (a 4th grader) try to learn using a virtual platform. It was evident right from the beginning that the virtual platform was not going to be very effective. Our son was often bored and not engaging in the same manner he would if he were in a physical classroom. For the Board and Administration to believe the format they instituted for virtual learning would be an effective alternative to in-person learning escaped us. How could anyone expect young children would be able to effectively navigate asynchronous instruction? I felt the only way a poor plan such as this could be corrected was to bring a different perspective to the governing body of the District. Since beginning my candidacy I’ve learned the current board is made up like minded individuals and as a Board, they are not challenged when making decisions that affect the students and the community. It has become very clear the Board is not balanced resulting in decisions being made and policies being implemented that have not been in the best interest of “ALL” studentsand/or the North Penn Community as a whole.
What, if anything, would you have done differently in regards to the re-opening process
throughout this school year?
First, let me preface my position by stating that the COVID-19 pandemic was and remains unprecedented and was not by any means an easy situation to manage. That being said, back in July 2020, the School Board and the Administration had offered what I believed was a thoughtful plan that provided comprehensive options to families of North Penn to start the 2020-21 school year in a safe and accommodating manner. Unfortunately, something caused the Board to change their position on in-person learning forcing all students into a virtual format. Had I been on the
School Board, I would have challenged that decision. I would have argued the need for in-person learning. I would have used existing “scientific data” provided by the CDC and W.H.O. that said our children were safer in schools that locked down in homes. I would have headed the medical community’s warnings of mental health decline in our children by keeping them home. For those who say my position is only made with the benefit of hindsight, I need only point to
surrounding school districts such as Souderton Area SD, Pennridge SD, Mater Dei Catholic School, and most of the Bucks County school districts, where they opened early on and did so with a solid back to school plan that ensured student safety and was successful in alleviating public fears and concerns. These other School Districts have successfully provided the best and safest learning environment for our children. We said it could be done and they proved it. North Penn School Board failed in their responsibility to keep the children front of mind in their decisions.
If elected, what will be your top priorities post-pandemic?
If elected to the NP School Board of Directors, my priorities will be to;
1. Ensure all decisions related to policies, curriculum and spending are decided only after first answering the question: “How will this decision impact the educational experience and outcomes of all students”.
2. Commit to balance the budget.
3. Commit to finding ways to effectively promote and provide avenues for all stakeholders in the NP School District to feel they have a voice all NP School District matters they find important to them.
4. I will commit to thoughtfully reviewing all potential changes and /or new school policies and curriculum. I will not support any policy that cannot be shown to improve the educational experience of all students.
How would your unique skill set and background be an asset to the Board?
With more than 30 years of Facilities and Property Operations experience, I believe I would bring a unique set of assessment skills and analytical traits that would benefit the school district with all its deferred maintenance issues, 10-year capital improvement plan, janitorial programs, security and building access and safety programs. It is my position that although we currently have a comprehensive list of deferred maintenance issues throughout the district, we have not been responsible fiduciaries when spending the money to address the listed deferred items. For instance, under the current pandemic situation we know we must consider the long term impact of spending money we do not have. We should never be okay with borrowing to pay for wants vs. needs. Nor should we consider raising taxes to pay for our future simply because we can. We must be able to persuade a majority of taxpayers and stakeholders in the community that a tax increase is the right option, not the only option. Lastly, I am a founding member and Past President of the Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association. This is a statewide association advocating for providers and seniors living in assisted living and personal care homes in Pennsylvania. I am also a Past President of the Jenkintown Lion’s Club.