The latest installment of our series of interviews with school director candidates across Pennsylvania brings us to the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District.
Isabelle Romine is running for school director in Region A (East and West Marlborough Townships) of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. She is a registered Republican and serves as the Director of Communications and Mentorship for Delaware Valley Science Fairs, Inc.
Why are you running for the school board?
“While I value the wisdom and experience of our school directors, I will bring a new perspective as a young mother to our school board that is currently missing. Our district is facing decisions in this upcoming cycle that will directly impact my young children and my nephews. As a member of our school board, I will be at the table to advocate for the needs of all our children while bringing in the perspective of young families.
“My family has deep ties to the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District (UCFSD), with six of my family members attending or about to attend UCFSD schools. Along with my two children, my sister-in-law entrusts the education of her four children to our schools, children who will be attending our schools for over a decade. My mother-in-law has filled leadership and educational roles in the UCFSD community for three decades. My husband also has cherished memories of his K–12th-grade years that contributed to our choice to return to East Marlborough, purchase our home, and settle here. I’m fully invested in UCFSD, and my skills will serve the school board well.”
What are the most important issues facing your district?
“Our board recently voted in favor of a full-day kindergarten program. The next few years will be filled with decisions about how to implement this program. I will advocate for a curriculum that keeps our children away from screens and engaged by learning through connection with other children in a fun and explorative environment that drives an early passion for multidisciplinary learning.
“The temporary move to remote learning in the past few years has significantly impacted our students and our community. Now, our students are dealing with a heavier burden of stress and uncertainty than ever before. In the most recent Pennsylvania Youth Survey, our school district results showed that 50 percent of tenth graders reported symptoms of depression. Our students deserve environments that allow them to learn and thrive both academically and emotionally.
“We need to focus efforts on providing our kids with the resources to help them recover from lost time in the classroom. As demonstrated in the reported scores from the 2022 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSAs), an average of 45 percent of our middle school children are not proficient in math. Math is foundational. Deficits in math influence student learning not only in future math classes but also in courses like chemistry, biology, economics, physics, computer science, and engineering. For our students to succeed, they need us to invest in their foundational skills.
“Our district is also dealing with budgetary increases. School taxes are likely to increase by nearly five percent per year for the next few years, and we all want to see these dollars used wisely. We need to be mindful about what we decide to fund, ensuring that our taxes enhance learning and student well-being, and providing opportunities to give our students hands-on learning experiences. We need to support programs that will retain top teaching talent and provide funding for extracurricular opportunities, like art and music, to fuel creativity and encourage the development of individual interests. When I am on our school board, I will ensure that we critically consider the frequency of hiring outside consultants and that we make responsible choices on facility purchases, allowing us to maintain our facilities without overspending.”
What is your professional background/experience? What skills would you bring to the board?
“I will bring more than the perspective of a young mother to our school boards. When elected, I bring the expertise I have gained from a decade of experience in education, working with students at every level, from kindergarten through college. I also bring the analytical thinking, problem-solving, and critical skills I gained while earning my Ph.D. in Chemical Biology and the financial, management, and team skills I developed through study for my MBA. These skills allow me to serve our community by coming to the table with a multidisciplinary perspective to offer innovative and cost-effective solutions to complex issues.”
Have you run for political office previously? Have you been politically active?
“I was elected as Inspector of Elections in 2020 and served at our precinct polls until I resigned to run for school director.”
Are you running with other candidates?
“I support electing well-qualified and trustworthy candidates across our school district and county, but I am not actively running with any other candidates. You can learn more about my campaign on my website.”
What is the most important role of the school board, in your opinion?
“The mandated responsibilities of a school board include (1) to develop and manage the budget to run the school system, (2) to govern the school district through the policies it sets, and (3) to hire and evaluate the superintendent. These responsibilities need to be managed through a lens that is responsive to the needs of our students, our families, and our community. We need to be active in communicating the topics we discuss with our community, listening, and making it easy for them to offer input. Policies should align with these local needs. Resources should be utilized strategically, and our taxpayer money should be used to support programs that enhance student learning, nurture student well-being, and prepare our children for life in an increasingly complex world.”
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.
Broad + Liberty is a nonprofit media endeavor dedicated to sharing voices and stories that are shut out of other media outlets. @BroadAndLiberty