Get our newsletters

Familiar faces in Quakertown school board races


Seven candidates are competing for five seats in the Quakertown Community school board elections next Tuesday.

In Region 1, which includes Haycock Township, Richland Township and Richlandtown, David O’ Donnell is running unopposed. The father of three rarely misses an opportunity to chide the board over policies and procedures and is likely to continue to be a thorn in the side of the administration and other board members during his tenure.

A co-chair of the now-disbanded Elementary Redistricting Committee, O’Donnell has been an ardent critic of attempts to repurpose or close Quakertown Elementary. On his website, he says a facility should only be closed “when capacity drops to levels where it does not make sense to keep a school open.”

He has been critical of the district’s decision to sell its land on West Pumping Station Road, which was intended for an elementary/middle school and fears the district won’t be able to accommodate a spike in enrollment. He has also spoken out against a proposal to spend up to $6 million on a new baseball field and is seeking less expensive alternatives. He advocates communication between the board and the public, which according to his running commentaries is sorely lacking.

In Region 2, which covers Milford Township and Trumbauersville, three candidates are vying for two seats. Former board president and current software engineer Jonathan Kern said he was a steady hand during the tumultuous years of the pandemic. “Slow, steady, and with calm, we were able to get back to civil meetings.”

Kern said during his tenure the board has largely avoided last-minute votes because a process was put in place in which an issue would go through committees to give the public and directors time to digest the material and ask questions.

If reelected, Kern said he would attempt to make progress on long-standing issues facing the district.

“From the academic perspective,” he said, “it is critical that we redouble our efforts to focus on learning the basics. Somehow, over the years, we spend more money, hire more teachers, have reduced class sizes, yet our kids still fall further behind on standardized tests. While tests are not the “be all, end all” metrics, we have to face this conundrum as a district. What is the root cause? What can we do to change the trajectory?”

Wading into the thorny debate over the fate of QE, Kern said he has no hidden agenda other than trying to get directors and the community to have some options to consider.

“I will continue to fight for getting these sorts of topics out in the open and to have discussions despite the two obstructionists on the board.”

Business owner Chris Spear is in favor of keeping QE as an elementary schools and considers any other option a closure. He has been critical of any consolidation proposals, such as moving students to the Sixth Grade Center, and sixth-graders to Strayer Middle, and has expressed concern about large class sizes and lack of parental choice. He proposed switching the middle school and high school starting times, a proposal that is currently under review. He is an advocate of spending taxpayer dollars responsibly and supports reducing the cost of the baseball field.

Kern and Spear are joined by newcomer Amanda Hahn, a librarian and educator. Hahn is passionate about educating “the whole child” and a vigorous opponent of other districts’ so-called book bans. She did not respond when asked where she would draw the line on such books. On her website, she advocates hiring additional staff to keep schools at full capacity and is committed to keeping QE and the Sixth Grade Center open and in their current configurations.

In Region 3, which includes Quakertown Borough and Richland Township, incumbents Brian Reimers and Mike Post face a challenge from second-time candidate Joe Lyons. Lyons, a former teacher and administrator, did not respond to e-mails seeking comment.

Listing his accomplishments, Reimers, a longtime educator, said he never voted for a tax increase and kept the schools open for in-person learning during the pandemic, and held the administration accountable.

He said he is against wasteful spending for projects such as the proposed $6 million baseball field, and favors cheaper alternatives such as upgrading the existing Connie Mack fields at a cost of $2.4 million to $4.3 million – with turf. Additional money should be used to benefit students. This would include the restoration of elementary Spanish and digital literacy and retaining staff to keep class sizes at the state-recommended level of 20 students.

Post advocates holding the line on taxes and stresses safety and security of students and the “responsible use” of existing buildings.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.