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Voters to chart direction for divided Central Bucks board


It’s widely understood that November’s election in the Central Bucks School District will determine the course of the fourth-largest district in the state for years to come.

The deeply polarized school board, currently consisting of six Republicans and three Democrats, has, over the past three years, reflected much of the national debate over culture war issues.

Beginning with the COVID-19 lockdown, vaccines and masking, and, more recently, LGBTQ+ rights, the role of parents in education, book policies and a nearly $90,000 raise for the superintendent, the school directors consistently split along party lines.

Those contentious matters and others frequently created highly emotional school board meetings that attracted national media attention. A Republican-led policy allegedly restricting LGBTQ+ rights initiated lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Department of Education. Whether Democrat or Republican, a new school board will confront many of the same challenges come 2024.

On Nov. 7, voters across the district’s nine voting regions will choose between:

Republicans: Stephen Mass (Region 1), Dana Hunter (Region 2), Glenn Schloeffel (Region 3), Aarati Martino (Region 5) and Tony Arjona (Region 8).

Democrats: Karen Smith (Region 1), Heather Reynolds (Region 2), Dana Foley (Region 3), Rick Haring (Region 5) and Susan Gibson (Region 8).

The Republican candidates are running collectively as Central Bucks Forward, with shared goals that include this message, posted on social media. “Every student deserves an education focused on reaching their full potential. Parents need to be full partners in that process, not bystanders.

“The school board is the place where we shape the blueprint for a bright future for every student. We do that with civility, respect, and professionalism. That’s our commitment.”

The five Democratic candidates are also running as a team, Central Bucks Neighbors United. They describe their mission as one to “advocate for a safe and inclusive environment for all students.”

While acknowledging the role parents play in their children’s education, the group says on its website that it is “very much concerned about the increasing politicization and divisiveness in our community, brought in by outsider political strategists and those who have a stake in creating the type of chaos we have witnessed over the last several years. Our children should not be pawns in political games.”

Both parties are stressing the need for voters to show up on Election Day, emphasizing the impact this election will have on the future of the Central Bucks School District and its nearly 18,000 students.

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