Region 2 Candidates for Great Valley School Board

There are three candidates—Stephanie Gunderson, Michael Devine and Jennifer Armstrong—for two open seats.

There are three candidates in Region 2, and two open seats. The region includes these voting precincts:

  • E. Whiteland 5 & 6
  • Malvern
  • Willistown N1, N4

Jennifer Armstrong is an office manager, a Great Valley mom with one child in the middle school and one in the high school, and a school board meeting mainstay. She has attended school board meetings since 2010, including recent trips to the podium on issues like , and . Armstrong received a bachelor's degree in education from West Chester University.

Michael Devine is an investment advisor who has served in many other public roles. He was on Marple Newtown's school board and served as president. He's currently a township auditor in Willistown, and he chairs the Open Space Review Board.

Stephanie Gunderson (website), an oncology nurse at Paoli Hospital, studied biology and psychology at Harvard and nursing at University of Pennsylvania. She said she visited 800 homes for the campaign, and that she regularly attends meetings.

View the attached videos to hear the candidates in their own words.

Here are excerpts of their answers from the Oct. 24 debate at :

What is the greatest issue facing the district over next few years?

"Standard answer: the budget. ... Property tax appeals that are coming are severe ... The doesn't seem to care about our unfunded mandates."

"There are several: ... budget ... contract ... preparing graduates for [bad economy]"

"Communication. ...  Everything stems from having a common understanding of what our missing is and what our goals are." How would you use East Whiteland Police to control traffic at the high school?

"Morning has not been as bad [as afternoon traffic]. ... If we can, maybe get some volunteers to help."

"It's a perfect opportunity to work with the township and volunteers."
"First I'd get more information. I'm not that familiar with what police do at the high school. ... The bigger issue is just a balance of paying for services, keeping our kids safe." Do/Did your children attend Great Valley? Yes. Yes. Not yet. 2-year-old and 4-year-old. Which elements of the teachers' contract would you renegotiate?

"I don’t think it’s fair for public sector jobs to have better benefits, better perks, better working conditions, than the private sector which is funding them."

"There are structural problems with that contract... I've been through a teachers' strike."
"Merit pay. ... I'm worried that we’re losing our ability to negotiate by treating people with disrespect."
How would you maintain the arts?
""Art and music and even athletics, for some of these kids, it's the reason they come to school. ... Think it’s important to maintain the programs for kids."

"Both [my daughters] are extremely artistically talented. ... We cannot shortchange art. ... We already have the rooms, it's just a matter of finding the people and paying them."

"I am a quantitative person. I love math and science, but recognize we need art in our society." How would you have voted on ?
"Going forward, it's an inappropriate expense."
[no anwer]
"Yes, for this year. No for future years."
Closing statement

"I think that I have something to bring to the board and that it's time for me to make that contribution."

"I'm a person who ... has done community service, school board specific ... and has experience with labor negotiation experience and budgets." "I regularly attend meetings ... and have a proven aptitude to work well with others."

[Edited 11/1/11 2 p.m. to correct that Devine is elected auditor. Previous version incorrectly said he was a solicitor.]

guest12 October 31, 2011 at 02:39 PM
Senior citizens & the community used the school facities in Marple Newtown including the pool for 30 years. Mike Devine demanded $110,000 from the Senior & community program. When he didn't get the money the program was cancelled after 30 years. Shame Shame on Devine. Read about it here http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2001/12/26/today's%20stories/2842650.txt?viewmode=fullstory
Kristin Volpe Thomas October 31, 2011 at 04:31 PM
Until the recent debate, I had never seen or heard of Devine. I don't believe he attended any school board meetings in-person in the past year.
Pete Kennedy (Editor) November 01, 2011 at 06:27 PM
Devine is an elected auditor, not solicitor. That was my mistake, and it has been corrected above. Sorry about that.


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