Once POTUS, Soon FDOTUS? Bill Clinton Pops Up at SRS

Clinton remains a spellbinding speaker. Photo: Andy Shelter Photography

Clinton remains a spellbinding speaker. Photo: Andy Shelter Photography

By Jennifer Reynolds

Normally full of children exercising and shouting, the gym at Swarthmore-Rutledge School on Saturday, April 23, was filled primarily with adults quietly abuzz as they waited — and waited — for former president Bill Clinton to make a campaign appearance on behalf of his wife Hillary. Three days before Tuesday’s primary elections, rock songs played one after another as the crowd grew restless, in between speeches by Clinton’s state campaign manager and State Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky of Swarthmore.

Maya Grande (left) and Olivia Kennedy, both 3rd graders at SRS, with former POTUS Bill Clinton. Photo by Sindhu Srinivas

Maya Grande (left) and Olivia Kennedy, both 3rd graders at SRS, with former POTUS Bill Clinton. Photo by Sindhu Srinivas

Clinton finally appeared about 1 p.m., fresh from a diner in West Chester. Looking slim and energetic in dark suit and lime green tie, he announced, “I’m not going to look at my notes, I’m going to look at you.” He thanked Wallingford-Swarthmore School District Acting Superintendent Dr. Michael Pladus and Principal Dr. Angela Tuck of SRS, “this school of excellence,” for allowing him to use the space.

The 41st President reminisced about visiting Swarthmore as a Rhodes Scholar, where he shared dinner with a Quaker family. “We prayed together, washed the dishes after the meal, and walked around the campus.”

The overwhelmingly Democratic crowd applauded greeting Clinton’s call to overturn the Citizens United decision, and his emphatic statement that our nation cannot afford a right-wing Supreme Court and government. Cheers also greeted his suggestion that student loans be allowed to be refinanced at lower interest rates, “This is the only type of loan in our nation that cannot be refinanced.” Some in the crowd waved hand-painted signs that campaign staffers had supplied with slogans such as “Hill Yes” and “POTUS” under the female gender symbol.

Seven year-old Lizzie Rozin of Swarthmore welcomed Bill Clinton to SRS. Photo by Wendy Voet

Seven year-old Lizzie Rozin of Swarthmore welcomed Bill Clinton to SRS. Photo by Wendy Voet

Why Swarthmore? Swarthmore College professor of political science Rick Vallely says it’s hard to know whether there was any logic to Swarthmore over, say, Wallingford. “But four obvious considerations are: (a) a primary school is always a good venue for a candidate; (b) a school has a hall and everyone nearby knows how to get there and park, and waiting for the visitor is not taxing; (c) securing the venue was easy for the Secret Service relative to other venues; and (d) Swarthmore is overwhelmingly Democratic so the crowd was certain to be friendly.”

Swarthmore residents Dr. David Gaieski, Jill Bennett Gaieski, Colleen Guiney and Council Member Ross Schmucki (left to right) welcomed prospective “First Dude” Bill Clinton to SRS. Photo courtesy of the Gaieskis

Swarthmore residents Dr. David Gaieski, Jill Bennett Gaieski, Colleen Guiney and Council Member Ross Schmucki (left to right) welcomed prospective “First Dude” Bill Clinton to SRS. Photo courtesy of the Gaieskis

State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky helped welcome the former President. Photo by Beth Jones

State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky helped welcome the former President. Photo by Beth Jones

Sharing a longish wait brought voters together. Photo by Beth Jones

Sharing a longish wait brought voters together. Photo by Beth Jones

Too young to vote, but excited nonetheless. Photo by Beth Jones

Too young to vote, but excited nonetheless. Photo by Beth Jones

WSSD Board Okays Slimmed-Down 2016-17 Proposed Budget

Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board

By Katie Crawford

At the April 25 meeting of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board, current WSSD business manager and future superintendent, Dr. Lisa Palmer, presented to the board the 2016-2017 proposed final general fund budget. Her presentation built on the report given to the board in January, highlighting what has changed, and why, since that proposed budget was put forth.

The bottom line: the expense budget has been reduced by $1,197,668 since the first draft. Characterizing this decrease as a positive development for district residents, Palmer noted that the proposed tax increase of 3.9% to property owners introduced in January has been reduced to a proposed tax increase of 3.4%.

This decrease is the result of several factors. Most significant among these is a reduction of more than $600,000 in anticipated medical benefits costs. The January budget had assumed a 12% increase in benefit costs, but in the proposed final budget, these costs will increase by less than one percent. On the other side of the ledger, revenue was higher than projected, due to the sale of Summit School, proceeds from the recent bond refunding, and the reduced cost of several line items including diesel fuel, gasoline, and natural gas.

While the state’s passage of the 2015-2016 budget shed some light on the district’s looming budget questions, the forecast for the state’s 2016-2017 budget is still unknown. This uncertainty is once again forcing district leaders to rely on their best prognostications in order to create a comprehensive district budget. Given the difficulty and enormity of this task, interim superintendent Dr. Michael Pladus commended Dr. Palmer for the enormous amount of hours she has devoted to developing her best understanding of the district’s needs in order to map a path forward.

A Delicate Dance

Dr. Palmer explained the delicate dance the district is forced to perform in order to not overburden one part of a complex equation. Raise taxes disproportionately, and home values stagnate; draw too heavily from the fund balance and threaten financial security; cut programs or reduce the quality of instruction, and risk undermining property values in the district. Palmer explained how, given these parameters, the district seeks to maintain a balance, avoiding relying too heavily on any one area to create a budget.

Palmer emphasized that this proposed budget includes a structural deficit, reliant on drawing anywhere from $1 million to $2 million from the fund balance in the coming year. The current fund balance is roughly $8,600,000. If the district continues to operate this way the fund balance will soon be depleted. Palmer stressed that the district must get to a point where expenditures are not exceeding revenue. Palmer encouraged the board to re-imagine how we operate as a whole and to look for ways to shrink programming while not sacrificing quality, given that the district has simply outgrown its revenue.

Board members Wendy Voet and Dr. Marylin Huff applauded Dr. Palmer for her work, citing specifically her guidance in creating a budget under such trying circumstances while still preserving quality instruction and programming for district students. While the board approved this proposed budget, the final budget may change before the board considers its approval at its June 13 meeting. Palmer expressed her hopeful, yet skeptical, wish that the state will have succeeded in passing the 2016-2017 budget prior to that time.

Technology Instruction Advances in All Grades

In addition to the proposed budget, Mark Finlayson, director of technology, presented the district’s technology update to the board. Finlayson shared examples of instruction across grade levels, including the “hour of code” in the elementary schools, the middle and high school robotics teams, and CAD (computer aided design, engineering and manufacturing). Finlayson presented each board member with a set of wooden gears, created by a laser cutter which now enables students to create their own gears for use in robotic designs.

Finlayson also stressed the abundant opportunities for students at the high school to purse their interests in technology. He commended four students, Aidan Cole, Madeline Forbes, Lizzie King, and Carly Glassford, who took first place in the Congressional App Challenge for their app geared towards helping school-age children learn basic skills.

Dr. Pladus applauded the district for its agility in its response to the surprise visit from former President Bill Clinton to SRS over the weekend. In addition to the former President’s surprise tour, the district hosted the annual Relay for Life at King Field, raising $45,000 for the American Cancer Society. The snack bar funds contributed an additional $3,800 to the Diane McCormick Scholarship fund.

SHS and SGC Hold Three Plant Sales in One

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May 7 is the date for Swarthmore Garden Club’s and Swarthmore Horticultural Society’s combined “Salvia and Friends” and “Second Chance” plant sales at Centennial Park at Park and Dartmouth avenues.

The Garden Club sale begins at 8:30 a.m. and focuses on a group of 16 long-blooming salvias and 14 varieties of plants that complement them in the garden. Mixed containers planted by professional horticulturists complete the offering.

In the Second Chance sale, the Horticultural Society will be offering plants from the containers planted in the Town Center last fall.

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Check swarthmorehorticulturalsociety.org to confirm times of the sales, plant selections and other details.

Also, you can spice up your garden and kitchen at the annual herb sale from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Swarthmore Borough Hall, 121 Park Avenue. More than 1,600 organically- and locally-grown herb plants are available, in 35 varieties that include perennial favorites as well as newcomers.

The sale goes on, come rain or come shine, raising money for local community gardens and projects, charities and a horticulture scholarship presented annually to a Strath Haven senior.

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Look for Judy Penney’s suggestion of what plants to buy.

Swarthmore Police News – Paintings Stolen

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An artist reported the theft of two paintings from Swarthmore Borough Hall. The paintings were known to be present on April 19 at 5:30 p.m. and were reported missing to the artist on April 20 at approximately 11 a.m. One of the paintings had been sold, but had not yet been claimed by the purchaser. The paintings are valued at $205. Officer Aloi is investigating.

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No Parking in the Ville on Sunday

Swarthmore’s town center is where it’s at this Sunday afternoon, May 1, where two bike tours and the Lions 5K fun run and walk start from the SEPTA station, and the Rotary Fun-Fair attracts thousands of visitors from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. But downtown is NOT where your car should be. On street parking is off limits for the day; your car may be towed if necessary to clear the streets.

Swarthmore Spring Street Tree Sale

First Come, First Served!

A small quantity of canopy street trees are available for purchase through the Swarthmore Street Tree program. The following trees are ready for planting on your street.

Acer saccharum “Fall Fiesta” — sugar maple — a large maple (60 feet tall) that is one of the most attractive trees for its scarlet fall color. This selection is one of the better maples for our area. This tree grows fast when young and needs plenty of room to mature.

Nyssa sylvatica “Wildfire” — our native sour gum has a tight pyramidal shape when young, but is a more graceful ascending structure at maturity (up to 50 feet). This tree has handsome orange to scarlet to purple leaves in autumn.

Visit Borough Hall or download an order form from the Swarthmore Borough website to order and pay for your tree. Each tree, including planting and mulch, is $125 — a great price for shading your street and sidewalks and keeping Swarthmore a healthy, green community.

Questions? Need help deciding where to plant your tree? E-mail Shaun Eyring at shaun.eyring@gmail.com.

Memorial Service for Lewis N. Rinko

Lewis N. Rinko, who died on April 5, will be remembered by friends and family at a memorial service at the Swarthmore Presbyterian Church on Saturday, April 30, at 2 p.m. The church is located at 727 Harvard Avenue in Swarthmore.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: Girard College, 2101 South College Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19121; Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, 727 Harvard Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081; or Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association, P.O. Box 306, Swarthmore, PA 19081.

Blooming Bash at Scott Arboretum

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Claire Sawyers of Media welcomes everyone to celebrate National Public Gardens Day with the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College.

What better place to celebrate National Public Gardens Day than at Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College?

The arboretum invites the public to a free Blooming Bash on Friday, May 6, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. You and your friends can enjoy beverages and light refreshments in the Terry Shane teaching garden at Wister Center, and take either or both of a family tour at 4:30 p.m. and a curator’s tour at 6 p.m.

In the event of rain, the reception will move into the Wister Center, which is itself a showplace. Information is at scottarboretum.org.

New Presbyterian Minister Installed

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On Sunday, April 17, Swarthmore Presbyterian Church installed Reverend Joyce Shin as Pastor and Head of Staff in a joyful worship service, followed by a reception in the church’s Fellowship Hall to welcome Joyce and her family to Swarthmore. Rev. Shin, who is just the 10th pastor in the church’s 121-year history, was greeted by Marge Henderson of Swarthmore among hundreds of enthusiastic congregants.