Pennridge First...Promises Kept
Pennridge First was established on the principles of putting our students, our community, and our future first. This entailed prioritizing education, long-term financial planning, and facilitating honest communication with the public. This team of community leaders recognizes the importance of working with each other and district administration to do what’s best for Pennridge. Open-minded collaboration and strong respect for one another has allowed us to achieve our goals, and set inspiring new ones. Megan Banis-Clemens, Joan Cullen, Ryan Gerhart, Dave Reiss, and Sherry Thompson are committed to continuing to put Pennridge First. Please support these candidates on May 21st, and help us continue on this path of success!
● Approved one-way Kindergarten busing, which will increase instructional time
● Approved A/C in elementary large instruction areas, to improve learning environments
● Updated safety and security protocols, and added security personnel and equipment
● Decreased administrative overhead and increased classroom supports, while decreasing costs
● Implemented STEM programs in grades 1-12
● Expanded our ability to meet special needs of students within the district
● Increased awareness of tech school programs, to promote enrollment
● Implemented a transformative literacy initiative
● Revised GPA/class rank policy and procedure to better recognize student achievement
● Expanded and provided credits for dual enrollment with Bucks County Community College
● Instituted pathways to give teachers autonomy over their professional development
● Broadened programs for social & emotional learning, civility, and constructive choices
Long-term Financial Planning
● Third consecutive year with NO TAX INCREASE
● For the first time in 20 years, we have a completely balanced budget
● No structural deficit; no new debt
● Instituted a 6-year capital projects plan, which funds facility upkeep and improvements, without the need for borrowing or tax increases in the foreseeable future
● Secured fair, 5-year contracts with superintendent and professional staff, and other long-term contracts, which further ensure the district’s financial stability
● Collaborated with sending districts to fairly and fully fund UBCTS-ending funding crisis, eliminating side deals, and crediting Pennridge $136k for disproportionate side agreements
● Saving an average of $5k per month, 60k per year, by switching to more efficient and effective legal counsel
Facilitating Open, Honest Communication
● Committed to being accessible and responsive to the community in all forums
● All non-confidential documents are published publicly in advance of meetings so the community can actively participate in meetings, instead of having to learn details after decisions are made.
● Transparency has reduced Right to Know requests, which decreased legal fees
● Established official district social media accounts
● Meetings are video recorded and publicly posted
● Surveys are used to drive key student, staff, and community decisions
It is a pleasure to endorse Pennridge School Board Members Megan Banis-Clemens, Joan Cullen, Dave Reiss, Sherry Thompson, and candidate Ryan Gerhart. These community leaders have acted with great integrity and demonstrated responsibility with their commitment to providing the highest quality of education, without increasing taxes, and while initiating other cost-saving measures. Learning the basics in education, challenging students in the academics, providing learning opportunities in the arts and athletics, spell Pennridge Pride. They recognize the importance of funding and promoting the Upper Bucks County Technical School. These candidates understand character building, student acceleration, mutual respect for all, and are the foundations of academic excellence. Vote for this experienced and dedicated team for Pennridge School Board Directors.
Paul I. Clymer
PA House of Representatives (1980-2015)
PA State Rep. representing the 145th Legislative District in the PA House of Representatives.
PA State Rep. representing the 144th Legislative District in the PA House of Representatives.
Brian Fitzpatrick Member of the US House of Representatives, serving as the representative for the 1st Congressional District in PA
When Megan Banis-Clemens first ran for School Board 4 years ago, she set out to use her experience as a graduate, parent, teacher, coach, volunteer, foster parent, and taxpayer to help the various groups see things through the perspective of the others in order to solve problems and develop fair solutions, with students being the ultimate priority. Megan grew up in Pennridge and, along with her husband, is raising her four children here, bringing them up through the Pennridge School District. Some of her siblings still attend Pennridge High School as well. Children have always been her passion and she has dedicated all aspects of her life to helping kids. She is in her fourth year on the board and is currently serving as Board President, Finance Chair, Board Member for the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, Joint Operating Committee Member for the Upper Bucks County Technical School, and serves on all Committees. Megan served on the Comprehensive Planning Committee for the district, represented Pennridge as a voting delegate for the Pennsylvania School Board Association, and negotiated fair, long-term contracts with staff (one contract is left). Community service and volunteering are major priorities. She Chairs the Welcoming Committee for the Bucks County Down Syndrome Interest Group, welcoming new families who receive prenatal and birth diagnoses, and also serves on the Mutual Ministry Committee at her church. After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from DeSales University, Megan went on to obtain certification in grades K-9 in reading, writing, and mathematics, and to teach in several local districts, as well as coach softball and soccer in a local school and for Pennridge Yellowjackets Soccer Association, where she also served as a Board Member. When Megan is not volunteering, she is a property manager and home with her children. She has demonstrated her passion and dedication to prioritizing a well-rounded education that meets the individual needs of all students and enables students to thrive in academics, athletics, music, the arts, woodworking, and trades, while providing staff with the tools they need to be successful, reducing non-essential costs, and working within our means with long-term financial planning that eliminates the need to raise taxes or borrow money for the foreseeable future.
School board member Joan Cullen is a proud Bucks County native and 14-year Pennridge resident. She and her husband Larry have been married for 22 years, and have five children. Joan was elected to the school board in 2015. She currently serves on the Activities committee, as the chairperson of the Curriculum committee, and board liaison to the Pennridge Community Education Foundation. She represented Pennridge as a voting delegate at the Pennsylvania School Board Association annual meeting for the past three years. In addition to her school board service, Joan also sits on the Bucks County Planning Commission. Joan has a long history of professional and volunteer work in education. She holds a bachelor’s of science in Secondary Education (Social Sciences) from Penn State University. She has worked as a substitute and classroom teacher, and Director of Education for Sylvan Learning Systems. Joan’s current and past volunteer work includes serving as a parent member of the Pennridge School District Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, president and vice president of home and school organizations, and the PHS Men’s Volleyball booster club, Sunday school teacher and VBS leader, CYO coach, church volunteer, Cub Scout Pack secretary, Girls on the Run assistant coach - and practice 5K DJ! In 2014, Joan was recognized for her “exemplary dedication and volunteer service”, when she received the Pennridge Central Middle School Partner in Education Award. Education and service are central to Joan’s life. She hopes to be able to continue serving the Pennridge community as a school board director for another term.
Ryan Gerhart is an eight-year resident of Hilltown Township and Pennridge School District who has been working in the insurance industry for ten years, including almost three years as a Lead Audit Specialist for Guardian, and more than seven years in a compliance and regulatory position. Ryan has a bachelor’s degree from Millersville University in business administration and graduated from Souderton Area High School in neighboring Montgomery County. Known for his upbeat, self-motivated, team-oriented personality, Ryan brings out the best in others. His education and work experience has helped him develop strong leadership, communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Ryan believes in the importance of doing what is right and is motivated to help others, however, it is his family that gives him his greatest source of motivation. Married to a teacher, Ryan and his wife have two young girls who will begin their education in Pennridge in the near future. Spending time with his kids and helping them exhaust the endless energy they seem to have, is how he enjoys spending his free time! As a proud father, Ryan is driven to help ensure that all children have every opportunity to achieve great things. Parenting has given Ryan a new perspective and has strengthened his ability to be flexible and multi-task. Respecting all different viewpoints and using them to drive better solutions is something he feels very strongly about. Volunteering in the community and through work helps him give back and gain an appreciation for the different circumstances people are facing. Ryan also enjoys traveling, fishing, music, and sports. Currently, he plays in a fast-pitch church softball league that plays in Pennridge and the surrounding area.
School board member Dave Reiss is a proud parent of two adult children and one young adult student still in high school. He's a 1987 Pennridge graduate, and a 42-year resident of the Pennridge School District. Dave has always been an active volunteer in the community, even in the 8 years he did not reside in Pennridge. He has a background in building houses with masonry, carpentry, and he built a career and business as a 24 year Senior Systems Administrator in the IT profession. He has been an active member on the West Rockhill Parks and Rec Committee for 11 years, and currently serves as the Chairperson. Dave has coached for 17 years in the Pennridge Little League, been a player agent for several divisions, and for the last 5 years, he has represented the league as the President of the Board of Directors.On the school board, Dave is Chair of the Technology Committee, and sits on the Personnel and Activities Committees. He also serves as an alternate on the UBCTS (tech school) JOC committee. Dave looks forward to continuing to serve the community for many years to come.
School board member Dr. Sherry Thompson is a 6 year resident of Perkasie Borough and a longtime resident of the district where she raised two sons, both graduates of Pennridge High School. She was appointed to serve on the board in July 2018. Dr. Thompson just earned her Doctorate in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Strategy and Innovation. She holds a Master’s in Public Administration with a minor in Non-Profit Administration, a Post-Baccalaureate certificate in Human Resources and Employee Relations and an undergraduate Bachelor of Letters Arts and Sciences degree. Dr. Thompson is the Director of Operations in a land development company operating in Sellersville Borough. She has several areas of volunteer experience including choir director, drama team director, VBS set designer, résumé writing, personal development coaching, conflict resolution training, and general mediation. She brings to the board a wide variety of skills encompassing the public, private and non-profit sectors with an emphasis on fiscal and social responsibility.
Senior Tax Rebate Program
The current board is already exploring the options for a senior rebate program, but we do not want to mislead the public into thinking tax rebates apply to all seniors. The reality is, when you look at these programs, they only benefit seniors whose total annual household income is less than $25k-$35 (counting half of social security), and the amount of the rebate is a sliding scale of $250-$650. There is also currently a state program. Here are the details: https://www.revenue.pa.gov/GeneralTaxInformation/PropertyTaxRentRebateProgram/Pages/default.aspx
Here is an example of the Neshaminy version:https://www.neshaminy.org/Page/758
Full-day kindergarten needs to be a community decision, but it would be dishonest to suggest it is something we could feasibly do at this time. A building utilization study was completed in 2015 on adding full-day kindergarten. It required putting additions on buildings to add the 10 additional classrooms needed to accomodate the program. That includes making morning and afternoon full-day and accounting for the 20% of students who attend other programs for a full-day option. It also including renovating all learning support classrooms, building a wall in the center and putting all learning support students into half-sized classrooms, despite the enrollment indicating learning support classrooms could have as few as 4 less students in the class. This plan also preceded adding STEM to the elementary schools which utilizes additional classrooms and counted on an enrollment drop that is less than what was predicted. It requires borrowing millions of dollars and stacking out the debt, capitalizing the interest for 5 years, wasting millions on interest. This would completely eliminate the long-term financial planning that is in place to make us debt free with millions of dollars to put back into the classroom, instead of wasting it on interest.
Long-term Financial Plan
Last year, we implemented a 6 year capital projects plan that prioritizes our needs and bridges us to the debt drop $6 million annually. Over the following 5 years, it would drop by $13 million annually and make us completely debt free. That provides us with millions of dollars to to utilize for any major projects as we go, and plan for them, rather than wasting it on interest. The prior process was to borrow millions of dollars and stack out the debt to the end of current payments, capitalizing the interest (paying interest on interest). We need to keep this board in place to carry out this plan. In addition to the upkeep of our facilities, this plan adds air conditioning to elementary schools, regrading all grass fields at all schools, including some playground areas where students cannot currently play. This will provide more opportunities to more students. We have established fair, long-term contracts with staff. Our financial plan prevents us from needing to raise taxes or borrow money for the foreseeable future and prioritize money to the classrooms.
Upper Bucks County Technical School (UBCTS) Funding
The Articles of Agreement established a funding formula for the technical school that requires the three sending schools Palisades, Pennridge, and Quakertown, to fund the operating budget based on a 5 year rolling average of the percentage of students each district has in the school. The 5 year average allows for any increase from year to year to be more minimal so it would not have a significant impact on districts. The funding formula is fair. The problem is that over time, side agreements were made to cap what districts were spending and borrow from fund balance, creating a significant and unsustainable structural deficit. It also required some districts to fund the school in way that is unproportional to the number of kids they were spending. This year, we worked together with the other two districts to end the side agreements and fully fund the tech school in accordance with the fair funding formula legally on the books. It also credited Pennridge back for the $136K overpayment. Essentially, all 3 districts agreed we need to pay our bill and properly fund the school. If the prior side agreements were being utilized this year, we would have seen a decrease to the tech school of $20k from last year. This was a funding crisis that would have left the tech school broke in the next 10 years. We are also increasing efforts to expose students to the opportunities at UBCTS early on. Dual enrollment has also been expanded with the Bucks County Community College for students to do both.
We made all non-confidential documents public, prior to meetings, so community members can access all information and actively participate in meetings. Prior to this action, documents and details were not available to the public. Community members had to file right to know request to get information. By the time they received the information, the vote was over so it was too late to share thoughts and concerns. Community members bring value to the discussions. The old process also wasted a great deal of money on attorney fees, as well as administrative time reviewing requests for information that should already be available to the public.
Taking college courses at Bucks County Community College was disincentivized by not allowing students to get credits for the courses they took or have it countable toward their gpa. Now, they get credit for these courses and the district is expanding the partnership and scheduling to provide more opportunities to more students.
Students are now appropriately recognized for their achievement in a way that is more fair. Previously, students transferring into Pennridge had an advantage over our students because it allowed students to being in more credits than students had the ability to take in Pennridge. The calculation weighted those extra credits higher and gave an advantage over students with a higher gpa.
+ Event Details
Cafe at Bucks Mill
Pennridge First has been instrumental in bringing some notable "firsts" to the district, in terms of curriculum, facilities and finance. Please join us to hear what the school board candidates have already accomplished and what we have planned next!
+ Event Details
Cafe at Bucks Mill
+ Event Details
Cafe at Bucks Mill
**determined by your home address** Click "EVENT DETAILS" to lookup your polling location.
+ Event Details
Election Day at your local polling place.
Click HERE to find your polling place
**determined by your home address** Click "EVENT DETAILS" to lookup your polling location.