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Letter to the Editor: I Still Believe in Neshaminy

Former school board member William O’Connor submitted this letter on the MaST Charter School application.

Editor's Note: The following was submitted by former member of the Neshaminy School Board William O'Connor. He wrote down his personal views to be read into the record at Monday night's MaST Charter School hearing. O'Connor let us publish his remarks.

A charter school is a lot like the back-up quarterback on a football team. Nobody knows they’re even around if the team is winning, but once fans see their team faltering, then everyone wants to give the #2 guy a chance to see what they can do.

Such is the case with Neshaminy, where many parents are losing faith in our public education because of years of contract strife and power struggles with our teachers’ union.  They see this as an opportunity to try something different, in hopes the charter school can accomplish what our public schools seemingly have not.

But in Neshaminy, we have an unusual situation where we have gone from zero charter schools, to now possibly approving a second charter school before our first one has even opened its doors.  We do not yet understand the impact of one charter school, but here we are discussing the application for a second one.

What will the impact of one charter school be on our student population?  Will it significantly reduce our enrollment?

Will we be able to break even or possibly save costs on educating our students, or will the charter school syphon money away from our district, thus hurting the students in our public schools?

If our students attend charter school in the elementary or middle grades, what will they experience educationally when they rejoin the public school students at the high school?

So many questions and so much that we do not yet know.

I ask that our School Board reject the MaST application until we have learned the impact of opening our first approved charter school.  Not only will this give us a chance to assess the impact of a charter school in Neshaminy, it will also provide our Superintendent, Mr. Copeland, with an opportunity to restore our district, and set it back on a course for educational superiority.

As a Neshaminy activist and former school board member, I have spent years fighting alongside others to restore fiscal sense and academic excellence in our district.  I did this in hopes that our community could rebuild Neshaminy, not outsource it to someone else.

I still believe in public education. I still believe in Neshaminy.

Sincerely,

William D. O’Connor

Middletown Township

If you'd like to submit a letter to the editor, email lowersouthampton@patch.com.

News Related to the Neshaminy School Board:

  • Neshaminy Denies Charter School Application
Linda Sheridan February 13, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Thx to Ritchie Webb & our school board, & everyone who will not allow "a few rotten cooks to spoil the broth." Godspeed to the REAL teachers to TRY and get an honest VOTE- not a show of hands, etc. NSD & our school board will prevail. Hang in there to the young teachers who are REALLY getting the short end of the stick.
Redskinsmom February 13, 2013 at 07:02 PM
Great letter, William. We certainly miss having you on the school board. Thank goodness they are still doing a great job without you. I want to still believe in Neshaminy, too. But, the NFT and ALL of our teachers actions have ripped apart our community. Their power struggle with the school board has pitted neighbor against neighbor, friends against friends. I have lost so much respect for every single Neshaminy teacher. Watching the way they acted at school board meetings was SHOCKING. I want to believe in public education also, William. Because a charter school is not an option for my family. My kids thrive on the whole public high school life with all the team and club options available to them. But, there are numerous district families that are in immediate need of charter schools and other options... because the present Neshaminy is indeed "under-educating" our students. It will take years before this Neshaminy school district mom of 2 school age children, homeowner, local business owner, taxpayer and community service leader will be able to forget how my family has been treated by the teachers for almost 5 years now.
Bob Crane February 13, 2013 at 07:24 PM
Mr Oconner is part of the Neshaminy Board that has put us in the mess we are in right now. Thanks to him and prior board members, Many Neshaminy Teachers are living the good life and are "set for life"! Six figure salaries, lifetime Healthcare benefits and a pension for life! He helped create the Neshaminy Millionaires Teachers club and therefore I give zero credibility to any of his advice!
William February 13, 2013 at 10:19 PM
Mr. Crane, my term on the board began in 2007, 5 years after the last contract was ratified. How is it that I contributed to the "millionaire teacher club?"
Deb February 14, 2013 at 02:35 AM
Mr. O'Connor, your letter expresses your concerns for the financial impact of two charters, but does not address the merits of MaST's application. Let's play pretend that SLCS is no longer in the picture. As an advocate for elementary technology, knowing that you were essentially unable to implement any significant progress in this area for Neshaminy students during your term of service, what letter would you have submitted for the record?
BucksDad February 14, 2013 at 02:07 PM
It's ironic that the "backup quarterback" in this case is ranked #34 in the entire state while Neshaminy isn't even ranked. I think I'd make the switch at Quarterback in that case, unless you want to continue to lose of course. Maybe Mr O'Conner is hoping for a higher draft pick next year?

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