The latest installment of our series of interviews with school director candidates across Pennsylvania brings us to the Downingtown Area School District.
Duanne Scavicchio is running for school director in Region 5 of the Downingtown Area School District, located in Chester County. He is a registered Republican and the manager of a contracted food service company.
Why are you running for the school board?
“I am running for the school board because I am passionate about public education and concerned about the future of our children. Both my sons graduated from Downingtown Area School District, and they received an excellent education. Currently, too many children attending the district’s schools are not proficient in reading, writing, or math. Downingtown has been distracted from teaching the foundations and is resting on its laurels. I want the district’s focus to return to academic excellence while safeguarding our taxpayers’ money.”
What are the most important issues facing your district?
“I am deeply concerned about the quality of education students currently receive in Downingtown schools. Although the district’s per-student expenditures are at an all-time high, over the past several years, Downingtown has experienced a disturbing decline in academic standards. The evidence of this decline is falling standardized test scores, and the district’s rankings have suffered as a result. The Downingtown Area School District’s 2023 state ranking, published by the Philadelphia Business Journal, dropped from 13th to 19th. The Niche rating publication also downgraded the district’s 2023 state ranking from 23rd to 30th. Only 40 percent of the district’s middle schoolers scored proficient in math on the 2022 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA).
“In only half of the district’s elementary schools, 20 percent or more students perform below proficient levels in English Language Arts. Statistically speaking, there is a 90 percent chance that a poor reader in the first grade will remain a poor reader throughout their life. Therefore, it is vital that foundational reading skills are mastered by all kindergarten and first grade students. A study conducted by the American Education Research Association concluded that a student who is not proficient in reading in third grade is four times less likely to graduate at age nineteen than a student reading at grade level in third grade.
“If I am elected, I will fight to return the district to academic excellence, starting with building the foundations in reading, writing, and math.”
What is your professional background/experience? What skills would you bring to the board?
“I work in management for a contracted food service company. I have decades of experience in budgeting, complying with regulations, managing employees, and customer service. My professional experience in service management aligns well with the responsibilities of a school board director. Throughout my professional career in management, I have acquired leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills. I will bring innovative ideas and positive solutions to the district’s issues while managing resources and large-scale budgets and expenditures.”
Have you run for political office previously? Have you been politically active?
“I have not previously run for office, but I am an active volunteer in my local Republican Party committee.”
Are you running with other candidates?
“As the Downingtown Area School District is not an at-large district, I am not running with other candidates, but I collaborate often with the Republican candidates running in other regions of the district, including Chris Bressi and Rebecca Podhiny. You can learn more about my campaign on my website.”
What is the most important role of the school board, in your opinion?
“School board members are elected officials; therefore, they need to balance the interests of students and taxpayers. A school board needs to ensure that students receive an education that will prepare them for life beyond graduation while simultaneously considering what the community wants for their schools. Ultimately, a school board serves the students by striving to improve the education the district offers.”
We contacted the Democratic and Republican committees in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Montgomery counties and asked them to share the questions with their school director candidates. Broad + Liberty will post the responses throughout the summer to assist voters in learning about the candidates running in their district. The series is open to any school director on the ballot in November. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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