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Winners in Palisades School Board race will take up falling enrollment


The successful candidates for the four vacancies on the school board for the Palisades School District will be joining five continuing board members to contend especially with the challenges presented by declining enrollment.

That task will feature a deep dive into nuts-and-bolts issues regarding staffing, facilities, class sizes and related matters for a district seeking to maintain its programs and services, lead its staff and be fiscally responsible in light of challenges regarding pension costs and charter school funding. That task will especially be less informed by party affiliation and personal ideology than by hard work they are volunteering to do as a service to all residents.

While embracing the enrollment reality, the new members will find out exactly what is going on in their district at a time in which misleading information regarding curriculum and pandemic response has been at issue.

During the May primary, a Bucks County judge referred to one piece of literature in the Palisades Region 2 race as “fraudulent.”

Voters can do their homework at, where minutes of school board and school board committee meetings are archived with attachments that include everything from course descriptions to district spending details.

When offered the opportunity to participate in an article here before the primary election, candidates in two of the district’s three regions with competitive races offered the following:

In the district’s Region III, which covers one municipality, Springfield Township, three candidates are vying for two vacancies.

Betsy Nilsen, noting 36 years of experience as an education professional, said she is seeking a seat on the board to help “continue the strong education program in Palisades, and continue the high level of fiscal responsibility for the families that support it, and see to it that teachers and students get the support they need for so many different learning styles and needs, with all having the right to a quality education.”

She advocated for “continuing evaluation of all programs, including vo-tech” and additional “involvement by professionals in various fields who live in the district.”

Linda S. Wenhold said she started attending board and committee meetings when she became “very concerned about not masking, and then changing the plan” during the pandemic.

She noted a “passion for education,” and was concerned that the district “lost our way” from “inspiring people to achieve,” to undesirable “lowering the bar” of educational standards, by emphasizing “feelings” instead of “learning to work hard and find rewards.” She said she supports “making sure parents are completely aware of everything brought to the classroom for their children, with the opportunity to opt in or opt out.”

Walt French, who listed dealing with declining enrollment as a top issue, said his work experience required “tuning in to people, and listening, toward efficiency and problem solving.”

As a school board director, he said he would “welcome input from different perspectives” noting that as a member of the township planning commission, he “worked well with diverse ideas and backgrounds.”

In the district’s Region II, including Durham and Nockamixon townships and Riegelsville Borough, there are also three candidates vying for two vacancies:

Karen Beerer noted 40 years of professional experience in public education, including the last three years as working especially with state education departments.

Beerer said she’d focus on what’s best for the students and added she knows “what great teaching and learning looks like” and that Palisades is “a great school district.” She said she wants to “keep that rolling” so it continues to meet students’ needs by providing an excellent education in academic and career-development programs.”

Saul Ramos said he is motivated “to serve my community, which took care of my family when I was deployed (in military service). Even afterwards, we still don’t know who plowed us out when there was three feet of snow. I’m also following the example of my dad, who was very involved in community service.”

He has attended board meetings since early last year, which he summarized, “it’s always about the children first, but things have to add up.” He emphasized the need to “keep children safe, while they learn to be creative, think outside the box, learn life skills. I’m a big fan of the vo-tech program, doing great things; would love to be on that committee. Not everyone is meant for college. We need people with skills to make the local economy more robust; not only learn a trade, but be able to start new local business.”

In the run-up to the primary, Kathleen Gentner did not respond to a voicemail offering participation in this article.

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