Souderton Area for Responsible Leadership Introduces Five School Board Director Candidates

The group's diverse roster has set goals to prioritize students, faculty and taxpayers, with an emphasis on educational excellence and fiscal responsibility.
(L-R) Kristina Bertzos, Ph.D., Andrew Souchet, Ph.D., Rosemary Buetikofer, Scott Swindells, and Elise Bowers. Photo courtesy of Souderton Area for Responsible Leadership.

A slate of dynamic candidates have stepped forward to run for Souderton Area School District (SASD) school board director seats in the upcoming May 16 municipal primary.

Collectively, the candidates represent Souderton Area for Responsible Leadership and have developed a comprehensive and platform that is student-focused, embraces the community and is mindful of spending.

SASD is comprised of nine public schools serving 6,139 students, according to Public School Review. A budget of approximately $142,106,340 fuels the district that employs close to 500 teachers.

Kristina Bertzos, Ph.D.

A resident in the district since 2015, Bertzos has two children attending SASD schools. A behavioral scientist who is passionate about children’s health and well-being, she understands, first-hand, the mental health challenges children face and how the school environment can impact, positively or negatively, a child’s development.

Kristina also believes school boards should not be political and that communicating with other board members is imperative.

“Developing a foundational relationship with people who are already on the school board, whether I have the same beliefs as them or not. I want to really be here for our school district. I don’t have a political agenda. I don’t want to be a politician. My only agenda is making our public-school systems better.”

Rosemary Buetikofer

Rosemary’s two children attended and graduated from SASD and she’s been a local resident for more than 25 years. Highlights of her 34-year teaching career include participating in school district committees, assuming the role as curriculum chair and serving as a teacher-mentor. Buetikofer knows that a quality education affords better career opportunities and more; in addition to being an educator, Rosemary was a Jeopardy! contestant.  

The emphasis, she said, needs to be centered on the kids.

“I want the focus to be on the students. It should be student centered. That’s the way a school board should focus their energies. I would like to see our school district known and talked about because of the accomplishments of the students and the staff. That’s the way a school board should focus their energies.”

Elise Bowers

Elise has lived in the Harleysville area for more than 30 years and all three of her children were educated in the district. Following years as a successful financial planner and after raising her family, Bowers has focused her efforts on community related efforts that promote fair social justice issues. Bowers believes the community is seeking to restore civility and productivity to the school district.

“We’ve got to find a balance. To be open and receptive and responsive to our public. We serve the kids and those in the community. We must honor and obey the Sunshine laws and make sure that we’re transparent.”

Andrew Souchet, Ph.D.

Andrew entered the school board director race to give back to the community. He moved to the SASD 17 years ago because of the schools and has been attending school board meetings for 16 of those years. All four of his children were and/or are being educated in the district including one at the high school and two at the Souderton Charter School Collaborative, a not-for-profit charter. A U.S. military war veteran with over 15 years of experience in pharmaceutical and US military operations, Andrew’s focus is on quality education to provide for future opportunities.

“I truly believe the public education system is a community asset and is something that can uplift everybody. It doesn’t guarantee outcomes, but it’s about improving life options.”

Scott Swindells

An educator for 21 years, Scott resides in Lower Salford and his two children attend schools in the district. A leader in the community and the church, he sits on the board of Souderton Area for All, a not-for-profit nonpartisan power-building coalition of residents working toward a more just, equitable, and compassionate community. He believes serving on the school board would be yet another way to give back to the community.

Scott believe that communication and transparency are key ingredients for a successful school board and would work to have all meetings live streamed and maintained online for longer than the current 30-day period.

“The community doesn’t see the committee meetings in the work sessions because those are not broadcasted or recorded. I think our teachers do an incredible job so why not showcase that a little bit more along with all of the meetings. We see this board vote in a nine to zero block every time without any discussion in front of the public. I think having some diversity of thought on a board lets you talk out issues more fully.”

Souderton Area for Responsible Leadership is a nonpartisan group of residents, taxpayers, and parents committed to public education. We believe the school system is our most precious community asset and it must be preserved through responsible stewardship.

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Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens is a freelance journalist who has written for a variety of publications, including The Reporter. An avid collector of all things vintage, she resides in the Philadelphia area.

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