Five jointly announce their bids for Northwestern School Board
Five candidates for Northwestern Lehigh School Board met April 16 at the concession stand in the Northwestern Recreation Commission Community Park to announce their candidacy and to give their views on ways to help the district.
The five all cross-filed on the Democrat and Republican ballots.
Each says he brings a different area of expertise to the table.
Willard "Bill" Dellicker says the five aligned themselves because they can bring about changes in the district.
He says their commitment is to careful financial planning and conservative budgeting and they will focus on academic excellence by supporting curricula and programs to prepare students for academic and career success.
He said the office of school director is unlike others because it is an unpaid position.
Dellicker says his family has been in the school district since 1974.
"We have five grand-Tigers in the district," he said.
He joined the board in 1985 with 10 years off when he was a board member at the Lehigh Career and Technical Institute, while construction was going on. He served as facilities engineer.
Dellicker said he was a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, and has business experience at Air Products, Olin Corporation, Acme Cryogenics and General Motors.
He said the school has the best set of school administrators who are dedicated to the children and responsible to taxpayers.
A member of New Life Lutheran Church, he has served on the Lynn Township Planning Commission and worked with Penn State Cooperative Extension.
He and his wife have been married 45 years.
Candidate Gregory Laub says schools need the flexibility to deliver a curriculum reflecting community values and priorities.
"Sometimes that means taking a stand against mandates from the state and Washington, which this ticket is willing to do," Laub said.
Laub has been a teacher and coach in Salisbury Township School District for 22 years.
He says he brings objective decision making and vision along with collaboration skills gained as an educator.
Laub, trained as an accountant, says schools can be both innovative and frugal but realizes decisions made now will affect children's success.
Laub is married with a son attending NWL middle school.
Joseph Fatzinger explained his reason for seeking a seat on the school board.
"As a small business owner, I depend upon local schools to provide skilled and responsible workers," Fatzinger said.
Fatzinger, a 1989 graduate of Northwestern Lehigh, and Jacksonville and Temple universities, owns Northern Valley Erectors Inc. and First Pitch Training, Orefield.
He says he has experience working with unions and his area of expertise is construction.
His sports-related activities include serving as NWL's junior varsity baseball coach for 12 years and junior high football coach for two years.
He served as a Northwestern Youth Athletic Association baseball director and was vice president of the NYAA board.
A member of Ziegel's Church, Fatzinger has two sons in district schools.
Candidate John Casciano, a graduate of Parkland High School and Moravian College, served with the Pennsylvania State Police for 25 years as a trooper and law enforcement instructor.
He is a detective with the Northampton County district attorney's office.
Casciano attends St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church and has been on the Lowhill Township Planning Commission for six years. He is vice president of the NWL Wrestling Booster Club.
As a police officer, Casciano says he is familiar with security and would like to see that expertise put to use.
He and his wife have two children attending Northwestern Lehigh.
Candidate Todd Leiser is a senior vice president of Business Intelligence, Rodale, for 18 years.
He graduated with honors from Penn State in 1991 and worked at Prudential Insurance.
His father and grandfather were both educators and the family ran a private school for 25 years.
He is an active Boy Scout Leader of Troop 72, Fogelsville, and a member of Asbury Methodist Church, South Whitehall.
He has been president of the NYAA for the last six years.
Leiser says serving as a board member would be a natural progression as he wants to give back to the community in which he was raised.
He says he wants more diversification of offerings for the kids and looks forward to learning as a board member.
Leiser is married with two children in district schools.
Resident Jason Wisser, questioning the candidates, said the school district has $46 million in debt and asked if contractors will be held to standards.
Dellicker replied they would be held responsible but there are differences between public and private contracts.
Schools are required to have architects who follow up on all steps, there are public meetings involved and a district has to show the construction is necessary.
The lowest qualified bid must be accepted. Twenty-two percent of the cost is reimbursed by the state for educational facilities.
Laub fielded Wisser's question about the pension.
He said originally staff was having 8 percent taken out of their pay. Now it is 21 percent and will incrementally go up to 33 percent.
Dellicker says Pennsylvania's School Employees Retirement System is unsustainable.
"Twenty-one percent of this year's $16 million payroll is a large check that does not go to education," he said, adding the present board has been putting money away in fund balance to help with pensions.
He also noted businesses are changing to 401K plans instead of pensions.
Resident Chris Ford asked if the five candidates are supporting any causes. Dellicker said there is a varied set of ideas but no agenda.