Stan Marcus is one of four Libertarian candidates for New Hope-Solebury School Board in next month’s election.
A resident of Devonshire Drive in New Hope, Marcus earned a B.S. in chemistry from Brooklyn College, and started his career as a New York City school teacher. He received a J.D. from American University, followed by a masters in law from NYU and an MBA from Wharton. This led to a position as Intellectual Property Counsel to Thiokol Corporation, and later to managing the patent department of Atochem North America, a Philadelphia-based specialty chemicals manufacturer.
In his spare time, Marcus is an avid cook. “My undergrad degree is in chemistry, and if you scratch a chemist you get a cook,” he remarked. “At Thanksgiving I do a turducken, but I substitute a second duck for the chicken, and add in layers of andouille sausage and shrimp stuffing.”
A fan of classical music, Marcus has served on the board and as president of the Delaware Valley Philharmonic Orchestra. Favorite composers include Vivaldi, Mozart, Mendelssohn and Beethoven.
I asked Marcus why he is running for office, the same question I’ve posed in recent weeks to 17 other candidates for school board, borough council and mayor.
“Well, I got my tax bill, and there I was fulminating over the taxes and muttering, and suddenly it dawned on me that you really can’t complain unless you’re prepared to do something about it,” recalled Marcus. “And so that’s what triggered my decision. And as I began digging into the issues it became clear that the school district is facing some really serious problems down the road, they’re facing problems now, and those problems are going to be exacerbated by other financial demands.”
What does Marcus think he brings to the table? “My background in business, my understanding of strategic planning, I understand budgeting, finance and governance — and I think I can bring those strengths, that background and knowledge to help the administration and help the board be a better board.
“I think one of the problems I’ve seen is that the board has all of these plans presented, but nothing seems to happen. They’re not strategic, with goals, objectives, strategies, tactics, a finance mechanism, accountability, and what your timeline is going to be. None of those things appear in any of the plans, and so you’ve got plans that keep emerging and never get executed,” added Marcus.
“As an example, in December, 2012 the administration issued a facilities plan that called for, among other things, about $100,00 in safety and security issues. Those issues are not addressed. The plan called for $891,000 for ADA issues, called for about $202,000 in maintenance costs, called for $90,000 to repair the track, $12,000 in stadium safety issues — all of those things haven’t been done. And when you put $100,000 in safety and security issues on the table and then don’t do anything about it, you’re looking at a couple of serious problems in terms of the safety of the kids and potential lawsuits,” concluded Marcus.
Marcus rattles off figures and facts without using notes, appearing comfortable in his knowledge of board issues and finances. He’s clearly been around the corporate block, shaking one’s hand firmly, outwardly confident, no-nonsense in demeanor, but amiable. He says that he’s not running to play the role of cost cutter. “I want to make sure the priorities are right and I want to make sure the funds are being spent efficiently.”
Explained Marcus, “They seem to look at a ‘big-number’ problem, and because it’s a big-number problem, and the funds aren’t there, they don’t do anything about it. But the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. That means taking a big, complex problem and breaking it into smaller pieces, setting up a timeline, and delineating step by step by step how you’re going to attack the problem.
“The current budget has nothing allocated for capital expenses. It boggles the mind. One could say, ‘Wow, it’s a $2.5 million plan and we don’t have all of the money.’ Fine, but the safety and security issues are about $100,000 — you can start with that. They need to address the ADA issues and maintenance issue, and there is no coherent plan for how to deal with these challenges,” Marcus continued.
He says that he wants to bring a “business sensibility” to these problems, approaching them in a more systematic way and prioritizing expenditures, with “safety and security of the students at the top of the list.”
In terms of the recent controversy around nighttime sports events, Marcus said, “I would not have turned the lights off and I would have addressed the problem a lot sooner then let it fester for as long as it has. The way to solve a problem is to solve the problem, not to ignore it, and the board has ignored it; they’ve pushed the pea around the plate, and they allowed it to reach a point where the thing exploded.
“If the answer is to build another field, then you begin with how to transition from one problem to another. The issue isn’t land; the land is there. So, it becomes a question of funding the other field. If they had put aside $100,000 a year, they would have had the funds to build a new field. They’re running from problem to problem to problem,” he added.
“Look at the current finances,” said Marcus. “They’re unsustainable. The expense budget this year is slightly over $36 million, and the income budget is over $34 million. There’s a $2 million differential, but they can only raise taxes 1.7% without asking for a referendum. So, they raised taxes 1.7% and pulled the rest out of the reserve. Well, you can’t do that forever, it’s not sustainable.
“I want to begin taking a hard look at the expenses, and make sure we meet the challenge of staying within our means and making a good school system better. I don’t want to take anything off the table. My career was at the intersection of law, technology and business, and I understand absolutely that our kids are competing on a global basis,” he observed. “It’s important that our kids be able think clearly, write clearly and speak clearly. It’s important that they have a solid grounding in math, and understand the language and methodology of science. My goal is to make sure our kids are as prepared as they can be for further education and adulthood and to compete on a global basis.
“The team that I’m running with asks the public to compare our education and experience with that of the other candidates and decide whom is best qualified to oversee a $36 million expense budget. I believe that we are the best equipped to answer the challenge of making a good school system better while living within our means,” said Marcus. “Our training and experience can provide support to the administration in its job of preparing our children while dealing with the demands of an aging infrastructure and increasing costs. At the same time, we can help the board function better, recognizing that a smoothly cooperating board, based on collegiality and mutual respect, can accommodate differences of opinion while working through difficult problems to reach the best solutions.
“You know, one of the board members recently wrote a letter to an editor about the importance of the school board not representing special interests,” observed Marcus. “I have no ‘special interests’ — my kids are out of school. My interest is in all the kids, and every member of my team feels the same way.”
I like what Mr. Marcus has to say, and why wouldn’t he and the other three candidates jump in the race so that voters can have a choice?
Attendees at the candidates’ debate last evening said that the 4 challengers are “very qualified” and “really know their stuff.” Since all 8 candidates said that budget issues are the #1 priority for this school board to address, it would make sense that those with experience in budgets and strategic planning would be the better choice.
Some of the negative comments made here sound like nothing more than sour grapes and old personal battles. We have to move on.
If Mr.Watchenfeld has a problem with Marlene Panzica and Alison Kingsley, then let him spell it out. But fair warning, there are laws against libel.
It must be pointed out that while Mr. Alderman raves about the Raptor System,it’s ONLY as a deterrent from stopping intruders from the outside. What about the safety of students on the inside? Not to worry, because the district reported to the state ZERO incidents of bullying in three of the last four years with just five incidents(.03%) in 2011-2112. If you believe that these stats are true,then as the saying goes, I have a bridge (the B’klyn Bridge) I would like to sell you.
While it is true that Mr. Marcus and others switched their party,can Mr.Watchenfeld provide the public with any evidence that they switched their philosophy?
I believe that Mr. Watchenfeld knows full well, that in order for Mr. Marcus and his running mates to run,they had no choice, but to run under the only voting line left open.
This business about Mr. Marcus not being seen at a meeting prior to his candidacy( last paragraph) applies to ALL of the other candidates, but interestingly not mentioned by Mr. Wachenfeld and pushes the false belief that if one does not attend meetings, he/she is some how disinterested in the goings on of the district.The fact is, one can learn a great deal about what goes on through other means such as(1) reading the agenda and minutes of every district board and committee meeting(2) listening to the unedited version of the audio tape of the meetings( posted on line) (3)reading the monthly financial records online and yearly budget proposals and final budgets online.(4)Reading the contracts for teachers and all staff members online. Hopefully,this puts to rest the false notion that one must attend a series of meetings prior to running for the school board.
Mr. Marcus and the other “Libertarian” candidates were handpicked by the losers of the primary – all four incumbents lost so in desperation they put together this group. Check at the Board of Elections. Their petitions were circulated by Marlene Panzica and Alison Kingsley. If you want more of the baloney the school board has given this district over the past two years, vote for them.
It is interesting that, in order to run in the general election, they all switched their registration to a party that advocates abolishing the public education system. From the party platform:
Education is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality, accountability and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Recognizing that the education of children is a parental responsibility, we would restore authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. Parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education.
If Mr. Marcus’s willingness to switch to a party that advocates abolishing the very organization he wants to run (despite not having ever been seen at a meeting until declaring his candidacy)is any indication of his judgment we should all be very concerned.
I disagree with this guy that the school should take money away from the classroom ($100,000 each year!) to save up for a stadium. Let the private sector fund that stadium. Academics should be the priority.
Regarding the cancellation of the remaining facilities meetings mentioned by Mr. Alderman,I attended some of the prior meetings where instead of implementing items that would be fair, reasonable and fiscally sound, the administration made a mockery of the process by CONTINUALLY trying to pull a bait and switch, presenting a wish list of items that would bankrupt the district if implemented rather than focusing on the items that needed to be focused on. So to put an end to the ongoing farce, the facilities committee decided to cancel the remaining meetings.Imagine suggesting a new $12 million dollar high school gym with a capacity of 800. As a sports fan having attended many indoor events over the last ten years, the only time the present 400 seat gym was filled to capacity was when the district hosted wrestling tournaments involving multiple schools.
As far as the remarks of the Solebury Sisters, personal attacks add nothing to the discussion.
Let us focus on the first sentence of the next to last paragraph which states,” The team that I am running with asks the public to COMPARE [my emphasis]our education and experience with that of the other candidates and decide who is beat qualified to oversee a $36 million expense budget.” Hopefully, there will be a huge turnout for the informational debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters this coming Thursday, Oct. 17, at 7:30 PM in the New Hope Solebury Middle School Cafeteria when the public can judge first hand which four candidates will best serve the interests of the children, parents and tax paying community community.
Wow. I don’t think I would admit that I was on the board of the Delaware Valley Philharmonic. Didn’t its board’s years of fiscal mismanagement lead to its collapse last year? I hope that isn’t the kind of experience that this gentlemen would bring to our community?
I guess you don’t understand how boards work? A board member or director is one of many. His/her vote is one of many. So it goes with the School Board too. People are allowed to agree or disagree, and vote accordingly. And then ajority rules.
This guy ran in and lost Solebury supervisors race two years ago. Looks like he is shopping around to get elected to anything he can.
Meow. Get out your saucer of milk.
So what if he ran for another office? That proves he wants to be a public servant, and nothing more. That’s admirable, since it’s essentially a volunteer position and a major commitment of time. If you were at the candidates’ forum, you would have heard his specific ideas for the improvement & enhancement of the school district. Far better than saying, “I just want everyone to get along better,” like a couple of the other candidates were saying. (They might as well have included “world peace” in their platforms!)
Interesting observations from one of our Libertarian candidates who has attended two or three NH-S school board meetings to date. I wonder how his tax bill would decrease if the facilities plan of 2012 had been implemented all at once, as he first seems to suggest in his interview? Isn’t the district doing exactly what Mr. Marcus goes on to recommend — implementing sections of the plan over time so as not to negatively impact education or tax bills? Maybe Mr. Marcus isn’t aware that the school recently implemented the raptor system to dramatically improve the safety of its students at a very low cost. Unfortunately, the facilities chair (circulator of Mr. Marcus’ filing papers and strong supporter) cancelled the last several facilities meetings of her term, so facilities work has temporarily slowed down until a new functioning chair takes over. With respect to using part of the fund balance to balance the 2013-2014 budget, does Mr. Marcus understand that, by law, the balance exceeded its maximum and had to be reduced to 8% of the budget? It is admirable that Mr. Marcus suddenly wants to be involved — why not take two years to demonstrate a commitment to and understanding of the district that you want to lead?