Lindner, Do mount write-in race for Unionville school board

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Region C race joins Region A in having multiple candidates

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
So much for an uncontested school board election.

Thanks to a last-minute write-in effort, voters in Region C of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District will now get a choice beyond Timotha Trigg, Frank Murphy and Sharon Jones in Tueday’s primary election.

Former board member Gregg Lindner and Kathleen Do, vice president of the Unionville-Chadds Ford Education Foundation — a group that raises money to put added equipment in district schools and funds various teacher grant requests — announced Sunday that they would seek election in Region C, which is made up of Chadds Ford and Pennsbury.

Gregg Lindner

Lindner, who served previously on the board in 2009 and lost a close election race that same year, said he had previously considered a run, but that work commitments had made him decide not to run. But the actions, he said, of some of the board in recent months have made him rethink his decision.

“It’s the politics of the current board — and it is politics,” he said. “They are pushing forward things I feel strongly are the wrong direction.”

Do, a professional writer, who previously worked in politics for New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and U.S. Representative Joe Sestak, said she thought previously about running, but until recently felt that her work for the UCFEF was making a difference, and she was hesitant to do anything to disrupt that. But the retirement of Superintendent of Schools Sharon Parker was something of a tipping point for her.

Kathleen Do

“I think that left me devastated,” she said. That, and a seeming change in the priorities of a majority of the board led Do, she said, to rethink her position on running.

“I think there’s a current majority on the board that no longer believes education is the top priority,” she said. “I think it’s a priority, but no longer more important that saving money.”

Lindner, echoed that, saying his frustration comes from a majority of the board that seems to place saving money over the quality of education.

“A majority of the board is looking to run the cheapest school system possible,” he said.

Lindner also faulted the board for failing to publicly oppose Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget cuts — cuts that could mean a loss of $1.1 million in state revenue for the Unionville school district.

“There have been no statements about standing up to the governor’s cuts,” Lindner said. “It’s clear they have an agenda.”

Do is also a very vocal opponent of the possibility of the district moving away from its current “neighborhood schools” plan — first discussed at last week’s Board of Education work session, but now not scheduled to be discussed at tonight’s formal board session.

“We have a wonderful community school system,” she said. “It was great knowing that our kids were going to be part of a community, a place where the staff and teachers would know them from kindergarten through fifth grade.” Plus, she noted, she, like many parents likes the idea of her children being close by and not, at young ages, being forced, potentially, to endure long bus rides.

Still, with short notice, and Trigg, Murphy and Jones appearing on both the Republican and Democratic primary ballots, Lindner acknowledges an uphill battle, but hopes that voters give him and Do a chance to get on the November ballot and the opportunity to spend the next few months to consider what he describes as two very different visions for the school district.

“As I said in 2009, elections have consequences,” Lindner said. “If a couple of close elections had gone the other way — mine and Karen Halstead and Vic DuPuis in Region A, I think we’d have a very different board today.”

Lindner, who has children who attend district schools, is a senior executive with Arbitron, the media and market research firm possibly best known for its radio audience ratings. Do, a writer and former journalist, is the author of a national impact study on No Child Left Behind and her work was cited by Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential election, and was praised in education trade publication Education Week.

Region B, Pocopson, Birmingham and Newlin, remains the lone UCF seat without a contested race — incumbent Eileen Bushelow is seeking election after she was appointed to the board in 2010. In Region A, East Marlborough and West Marlborough, Robert MacPherson is facing Victor DuPuis.

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