Coup D’Ville: heard around town and more

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New super seems like a great pick, a big loss to the Unionville community and other thoughts of the week

Editor’s Note: This is the first entry of a new local news/opinion column, which mixes small news heard around town, along with quick takes on issues of the day, a bit of insight about what we’re doing here and the odd non sequitur. We hope you enjoy it.

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
This was a good week for the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District.

First, the hiring of Dr. John Sanville as the district’s new Superintendent of Schools was rightly met with praise and even a great deal of relief among parents and members of the community at large. Sanville’s hiring means having a superintendent with virtually zero learning curve at least in terms of the district’s unique culture and landscape and in what has been a challenging era for the district, a sense of continuity for the community, staff and students.

And, to be sure, he’s a bright guy with good communication skills and I suspect it will not be long before he puts his own mark on Unionville.

Second, there was the glimmer of hope that some progress can be made on the ongoing talks between the district and its teachers, after a couple of very rocky months.  I’m not suggesting that a contract deal is right round the corner, it’s probably not — but with the two sides talking face-to-face over a bargaining table, rather than issuing broadsides, the chances of real progress in the talks is up dramatically.

Thirdly, the controversial term of Sharon Parker as schools’ superintendent wraps up quietly, with the appropriate salutes and little drama.

Parker may be one of the most polarizing figures on the local scene in some time. She engendered great passion, most of it in favor of her policies and methods, but some vehemently opposed. To be sure, the Unionville district was not without its drama long before Parker came on the scene. Additionally, the times are far from easy to run any school district, let alone one with as many moving parts as Unionville possesses.

Rightly or wrongly, Parker was tagged with a lot of the blame by some for the way the Unionville High School renovation project played out. Her departure, one would hope, closes the door on the political recriminations of that project and will allow everyone to just move on. Most folks, I suspect, wish her well, and are at least a little intrigued about her plans to aid education in the South Pacific.

* * *

Sad news in Unionville this week: John Allaband died after a long illness at the much too young age of 64.

Allaband was a force in helping to found the Unionville Recreation Association in the early 1970s, and spent more than three decades in various roles with the organization from president to coach and pretty much every thing in between.

That the main field at the URA complex in East Marlborough is named after him — an honor bestowed in 1997 — says a lot about how much the organization appreciated his good works.

On behalf of the thousands and thousands of kids who benefitted from John’s devotion — including my own — we at The Times offer our heartfelt thanks to him and his family, as well as our condolences.

* * *

As many of you know, there is an election this year — county-wide officials, including the Commissioners, school board members and township officials are up for election in November.

Sadly, too few people vote in these elections. We think it’s because people don’t know what’s at stake and who the people are who are running for these positions. In recent years, there’s been virtually no coverage of these local races.

We aim to change that in 2011. Starting right after Labor Day, the unofficial kickoff of the political season, we plan to profile as many of the candidates for office as possible — from your hometown supervisor candidates all the way up the ballot to Commissioner and Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. Understandably, we will focus on the contested races (sadly, only two local supervisor races are contested).

Yes, it’s a lot of work — but our hope is that not one of our readers skips voting because they don’t know who is running and who these folks are, why they’re running and what choices they offer.

It is also our hope to sponsor candidate forums for the Board of Education elections — separate events for Region A and C (Region B’s race is uncontested), with a mix of moderator and public questions, although the format is subject to negotiation with the candidates, of course.

As always, we appreciate your input.

* * *

On Sunday, Sept. 11, the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District plans to open the new High School Auditorium, formally, with a memorial concert in remembrance of two events: the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 as well as the Battle of the Brandywine, a key moment in the revolutionary war, fought locally in 1777.

This seems like a fitting way to open a building, that hopefully, will become a center of arts, music and theater, not just for students, but for the community as a whole.

* * *

Speaking of the high school, with a new year, it’s time for another new traffic pattern.

With the main construction work complete for phase one of the renovation project, the front of the school and its parking lot — along with a new entrance on Rt. 82 have been completed.

For complete details, check out this video presentation from the district.

* * *

Congratulations to the Unionville High School Cheerleading squad. The UHS Cheerleaders received the “Top Banana” award and the “UCA Superior” award during UCA Cheerleading camp at West Chester University, August 2-5. Also, Sammy Smith received the “Pin it forward” award for leadership while Megan Kolvenbag and Bethany Siehl were chosen for the UCA All American Squad. The UHS Cheerleaders welcome Head Coach Robyn Brazill to the team. Coach Brazill is a 4th grade teacher at Chadds Ford Elementary School.

* * *

Let us know what you think about this column, which we hope to feature weekly, with a mix of smaller news items, opinions, shout outs and the odd comment. If you have something you think should appear here, drop me a note at mike@unionvilletimes.com. And yes, I know “coupe” has an e at the end of it. It’s a slightly (hopefully) witty play on words.

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