New members join board

Three candidates voted to Spring-Ford School Board; Wright chosen president at Reorganization Meeting.


Photo courtesy of Spring-Ford

New Spring-Ford School Board of Directors members Erica Hermans (clockwise from top left), Gabrielle Deardorff, and Karen Weingarten are sworn in at the Dec. 6 Reorganizational Meeting. The board elected Dr. Margaret Wright (left) as new board president.

Sam McVey, Assistant News Editor

While the 2021 election cycle may not have attracted quite the same attention as presidential elections, local voters nonetheless prepared to cast ballots in a variety of political showdowns.
Perhaps no election around the country garnered attention and enthusiasm quite like those of local school boards.

Chester and Montgomery County voters elected three new members to the Spring-Ford Board of School Directors this past election cycle – Karen Weingarten, a Democrat from Region 1, and Abby Deardorff and Erica Hermans, Democrats from Region III. Region II voters elected candidate Clinton Jackson, a Republican, to his seventh year on the board as he ran unopposed.

New board members were sworn in during the Dec. 6 Reorganization Meeting. The board elected Dr. Margaret Wright as new board president and Hermans as vice president.

Over the past 18 months, the Spring-Ford Board of School Directors made decisions on several polarizing topics, including masks in school, in-person versus virtual learning, and health and safety protocols.

The Region III constituency had arguably the largest influence on the future of the board as Deardorff and Hermans narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Thomas DiBello and fellow GOP candidate Tom McMonigle. Dibello, who held a seat on the board for over a decade, formerly served as President and Vice President. The other incumbent from Region 3, Christina Melton, did not seek re-election.

In Region I – which encompasses the Oaks, Mont Clare, and Mingo regions – incumbent board member Linda Fazzini did not seek re-election as voters chose Weingarten over Republican candidate Heidi Goldsmith.

The board recognized the departing school board members Fazzini, Melton, and Dibello at the Nov. 22 meeting. Each wished the new board well and were thanked for their service.
“I will miss many things including meeting with the support staff each year and finding ways to find necessary tools and resources for our teachers and students, attending and supporting all events, and just being a driving force to make Spring-Ford the best district possible,” Dibello said at the the Nov. 22 meeting. “I most certainly will miss all the parents I was able to help over the years navigate through issues they were having within the district. No matter what, I will continue to support the Spring-Ford community and I wish all future boards well.”

Melton echoed Dibello’s best wishes for the new board.

“I look forward to seeing Spring-ford continue to move forward, continue to do great things,” Melton said. “A new board is coming in with new ideas and that’s really exciting.”

Information about the candidates was available on their campaign website.

Deardorff, for one, is no stranger to Spring-Ford, serving as a substitute school nurse. She touts her experience in this role, asserting that it has granted her the opportunity to be “particularly mindful of and committed to enhancing the physical, mental, and emotional health of our students.”

Hermans, meanwhile, maintains a background in corporate America. She has worked in the financial services sector for almost 20 years but is confident that these experiences are transferable to a community-oriented role. Hermans’ notable ambitions include promoting Spring-Ford’s equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) programs and implementing more career-specific instruction.

Weingarten has taught IT project management and design courses at the college level and has experience in strategic planning and digital communications, with a background in instructional design.