A well-known incumbent candidate for Saucon Valley School Board has withdrawn from the race, to be replaced by a candidate chosen by the Northampton County Democratic Party.
Sandra Miller, who finished third among four candidates in the Democratic school board primary in May, said she was withdrawing from the race to focus on her current work related to issues involving equity in public education.
“As an active member of the PA Schools Work Coalition and working for Education Voters of Pennsylvania, I need to focus my energies on my equity work and especially the Level Up program,” Miller said. “My efforts to improve funding for school districts around the Commonwealth is important work that will require my attention in the coming years. Focusing on this education funding work and my family will not permit me to devote the time and effort that the Saucon Valley residents deserve.”
Miller has served on the Saucon Valley School Board for approximately 15 years.
“I want to thank everyone for your support over the past 15 years and I hope to keep involved in the future as this district is so dear to me and my family,” she said.
The individual chosen to replace Miller, Robert Phillips, has been a Saucon Valley resident for more than 20 years, holds an MBA from Moravian College as well as a degree in computer science and communications from DeSales University, and works in the telecommunications industry, according to a statement he shared about his candidacy.
“My wife Sarah and I have been proud to send our children to Saucon Valley schools,” he said.
Phillips said he began following the school board more than a dozen years ago when his son was preparing to enter kindergarten at Saucon Valley Elementary School. Since then, he said he’s attended most meetings in person or online and has “actively followed the issues and opportunities in our district.”
“The school system is the heart of any community, even more so in a close-knit family focused community like Saucon Valley,” Phillips said. “Our schools are good–but let’s make them great.”
According to the news release, Phillips’ “immediate focus” as a board member would be the following:
- Stopping an exodus of students and tax dollars going to cyber and charter schools. “This is a major budget impact and growing,” he said. “Parents and students are looking for options that Saucon Valley has not offered. It is time to provide online and hybrid learning for those that want this option. Saucon Valley can provide a first-rate education online. We can provide excellent support options and do it all at a more competitive cost than what is available today.”
- Encouraging and supporting community engagement in board and building level decisions. “Our collective decisions will be better than what nine board members think in a vacuum,” he said. “It is time to foster discussion and welcome and respect differing views. I support restoring the ability to participate in board meetings virtually.”
- Addressing issues related to the replacement of faculty, who he said have not been replaced at the rate of attrition in the district in recent years. “Class sizes are growing,” he said. “Support staff has been decreased and part-time positions are favored over full-time. Students are in school full-time–they need full-time support. We need to be more transparent in ensuring staffing is adequate to provide an optimal education in all grades and for learners of all abilities.”
- Ensuring a healthy and safe learning environment for students and staff. “We must respect and follow CDC and state guidance to ensure the continued recovery from the Covid pandemic,” he said.
Saucon Valley School Board directors are elected to four-year terms, with elections held every other year. There are nine board members, most of whom have historically run for re-election as candidates cross-filed on both the Republican and Democratic tickets.
There will be seven other candidates vying for four open seats on November’s ballot, with one other candidate–Raquel Barbera–running as a Democrat, and another candidate–John Conte–running as a Republican. The remaining candidates are all cross-filed.
Saucon Valley School Board meetings are usually held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Saucon Valley High School Audion room. Meetings are streamed live online via YouTube, where the recordings are also uploaded for viewing.