Would replace Elieen Bushelow through December, 2015
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH — The four candidates to replace Eileen Bushelow on the Unionville-Chadds Ford Board of Education strongly agree on one thing: that the excellence of the school district is something that draws families — including their own — to the area and must be preserved.
The four, Dr. Bennett Baird, Arnie Klingenberg, Robert Sage and Hsinte (James) Yen, spoke about their qualifications and why they want to join the board through Dec. 2015, Monday night during the board’s monthly work session. One will likely be selected Monday at the regular board meeting to take the place of Bushelow to represent Region B (Birmingham, Newlin and Pocopson).
Current board members suggested that the choice would be difficult, as all four candidates were very strong.
“One of the good things is that we have four very good candidates to choose from,” board president Victor Dupuis said, noting it would be a tough decision for board members to make in the coming days.
All four were able to offer a three-minute statement about themselves and answer a randomly chosen question. All three were then asked at the end of the public interview whether they would seek reelection if appointed.
Klingenberg, of Birmingham, won the drawing and spoke of transferring to the district when he was in third grade and how that change set him on a new path, one that led to a strong corporate career, followed by an equally successful run as an entrepreneur. As an adult, he was sure there was only one place he wanted his own kids to attend — even if that meant moving back with his folks for a brief period while getting his own business up and running.
His question asked him where he would like to see increased spending in the budget. he said it would be difficult to answer because under the current circumstances, any additional spending would likely come at the expense of spending elsewhere.
Baird, of Newlin, a retired DuPont executive who now owns a consulting company, said his long-term experience with the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District — and briefer ones with other public school districts — showed just how good UCFSD is, and said it was something he appreciated and would work to preserve.
His question was whether board members should be involved with advocacy of specific issues.
Baird said that he feels it is very important to respect divergent opinions in the community — and that board members have to be the representative for a wide range of people in the the community.
Yen, of Birmingham, spoke about his early life and education in his native Taiwan, and he and his wife’s desire for a better life, which prompted a move to the United States. Although initially living and working in Delaware, as his two children approached school age, Yen said he carefully researched area schools for the best options, before seeing UCFSD as the best and he and his wife immediately began looking for a home here. It is a decision, he said, he remains very happy with.
His question revolved around, were he to be an appointed and not an elected member of the board, to whom would he listen for input. Yen said that his primary interest is in helping the district and that he would dedicate himself to do so and listen to a wide range of thoughts and opinions.
Sage, of Pocopson, spoke of his upbringing in the Concord, Mass. area — which he noted is very much like the greater Unionville area. Like the others, he said he picked where he and his family — he has three children in the district — would live on the basis of the schools and that he is dedicated to seeing the district continue to excel.
For his question, Sage was asked whether board members have a day to day role in the operation of the school district.
He said only on an indirect basis, through making policy and setting goals for the administration.
On the final question, as to whether they would seek the board position on an elective basis, the answers were mixed. Baird said he had not made a decision on that as yet, while Klingenberg said he wanted to spend some time on the board before ultimately deciding. Yen said he did not think he would run unless no other candidates stepped forward. Sage said he would run.
The eight remaining board members must select Bushelow’s replacement with a minimum of five votes. That vote will take place on Monday night at Pocopson Elementary School.