As the school district goes, so does the city of Allentown.
A key takeaway from my time promoting Allentown and the Lehigh Valley while working in economic development was that the Allentown School District and its success or failure has one of the most important roles in the continued success of our region.
The reality is that the task of ensuring the success of ASD is too great for one organization to tackle alone, City Hall and the District need to have a robust relationship. To start, there needs to be a top-to-top relationship between the mayor and superintendent. As mayor, I’ll have regular meetings with Dr. John Stanford so we can collaborate on issues that impact both the city at large and the school district. I have experience cultivating top-to-top working relationships from when I was Vice President of Economic Development at LVEDC where I had regular meetings with the directors of Community and Economic Development for the cities in the Lehigh Valley.
City services should be designed to make life easier for the objectives of the school district. That means making sure plans are processed efficiently so the school district can build and expand as needed to fulfill their mission of educating our students. That also means making sure traffic around our schools is effective for both students, their families, and teachers as well as the neighborhoods around the schools and the citizens dealing with those traffic patterns every day.
Something I’ve done a lot in my professional career has been making sure the needs of other organizations are taken care of well so that other pieces of the puzzle could simultaneously function properly. I’ll carry this work over into the mayor’s office by coordinating city services and the needs of the school district.
Our school district also needs an ally in Washington and Harrisburg when it comes to state and federal funding. I have traveled the world promoting the Lehigh Valley, explaining to businesses what opportunities exist in our region and why it would be worthwhile for them to invest. I am eager to transfer those skills over into promoting ASD and Allentown as a whole.
Finally, it’s so important for our school district, and the students it serves especially, to have an advocate in the Lehigh Valley, someone who will speak of our students’ unique value and challenge their unfounded criticisms. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how we can make life better for our youth and set them up for success.
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