My name is James O’Meara Sr. and I am running for Wilkes-Barre Area School Director.
I am a 1975 graduate of Wyoming Area. I’ve lived in Plains Township since 1984. I attended Penn State as an undergraduate. I also attended College Misericordia (now Misericordia University) during the early years of my marriage. In each case I left college to work full-time. I have a lot of credits, but no sheepskin. Both of my children attended Wilkes-Barre Area schools and both graduated from James M. Coughlin High School.
Over the years, I advanced in my careers through hard work and my own initiative. I haven't been afraid to take chances. I currently work in retail sales and run a small business. I also have sixteen years of information services experience (including management) under my belt. Like many other Americans in these uncertain times, I have experienced the challenges of joblessness. I know what it is like to face the cruel economic uncertainty that comes with the loss of a job.
I am deaf, but my hearing was restored with bilateral cochlear implants. The first thing I did after getting my hearing back was run for office. I relished the chance to once again talk with …and especially listen to …thousands of people in a door-to-door campaign for state representative. As a candidate for school director, I will campaign the same way. I will listen to what you have to say. And I will take your message with me to every school board meeting.
So why am I running?
I have one young grandchild, and another is due any day now. I worry about the quality of education they will receive in the years ahead. I am concerned that the education of our children and grandchildren is being compromised in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District.
The Pennsylvania state constitution mandates in Article II, Section 14 that, “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education.”
I believe the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board has a long way to go in meeting this constitutional mandate.
The Citizens’ Voice reported in June, 2012 that Wilkes-Barre Area “…is the only school district in the entire seven-county region that failed to meet the state average in any of the 20 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests or the SAT for the 2010-2011 school year.” From where I sit the district gets a failing grade for delivering a thorough system of public education.
As to the efficiency mandated by our state constitution, the failures there border on the spectacular.
Just days ago, the Citizens’ Voice reported that Wilkes-Barre Area’s billing requirements were so derelict that a forensic audit couldn’t resolve whether the former solicitor overbilled for more than half a decade. In other words, it was impossible for the auditor to figure out whether the district was robbed, careless or both.
Last November, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader lambasted five members of the board for “…refusing to recognize and prohibit the destructive influence of nepotism on a public institution.” In recent news, one board member is voting from half a world away.
This is a school board badly in need of a shake-up.
It’s time for some common sense leadership. It’s time for voters to send a clear message that politics as usual in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District must end.
I look forward to delivering this message personally in November, and I ask for your support.
Thank you, and together let’s make a difference!
James O’Meara, Sr.