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HUNTER: Similarities But Crucial Differences for Voters to Mull

Most political races focus on the differences in candidates’ viewpoints, failing to acknowledge the things upon which they can agree. My opponent, Heather Reynolds, and I have some similarities amidst our differences.

Like Heather Reynolds, I, too, grew up in a Jewish family. Unlike my opponent, I never felt different or marginalized. I am proud of my family’s Jewish heritage and don’t feel victimized at all.

Like Heather Reynolds, I, too, support an environment of inclusivity and belonging. Students deserve to learn in schools that foster resilience and develop confidence. Unlike my opponent, I support and encourage the acceptance of all viewpoints, which is why I hold firm in my stance that students should be taught how to think, not what specifically to think.

Like Heather Reynolds, I, too, believe we should be tolerant. Unlike my opponent, I believe that tolerance should extend to those whose views are in opposition to our own. Seeking to understand someone’s opposing viewpoint is an opportunity for appreciation, not vilification. Demonizing those who think differently serves only to divide. I respect Heather Reynold’s right to believe that teachers should use their positions to influence students’ political beliefs; still, I believe it is inappropriate for teachers to impress their political stances on the children over whom they have such influence. I support classroom environments free from the promotion of any political and sociopolitical content – classrooms that do not exclude anyone because of their beliefs and values.

Like Heather Reynolds, I, too, believe that our students’ mental health and wellness are of utmost importance. It’s why our current school board has aggressively supported hiring eight additional mental health counselors and the formation of a student services division that encompasses a wide range of services and supports aimed at nurturing the well-being of all students.

Unlike my opponent, I do not believe that facilitating a child’s gender transition without including parents is an appropriate component of mental health. Keeping parents uninformed about pronoun changes, name changes and gender transition isn’t a form of mental health support – it’s operating under a veil of secrecy that goes against the very transparency my opponent so frequently claims is lacking in Central Bucks.

Like Heather Reynolds, I believe our LGBTQAI+ students deserve to be heard and supported. It’s why we have books on our library shelves that focus on the LGBTQIA+ experience for adolescents. However, unlike Heather Reynolds, who believes books with graphic sexualized content should be accessible for students under the guise of being supportive, I believe our students can be respected and supported without exposing them to graphic books that promote adolescent sexual debauchery, complete with visual depictions of sex acts and other lewd descriptions of sexual contact and practices.

Like Heather Reynolds, I believe that students and staff should feel safe. It’s why our current Board fought to provide School Resource Officers at our three high schools and security guards in each of our middle schools. Unlike my opponent, who is a self-proclaimed Ambassador to the Defund the Police Movement, as she describes in one of her many recently deleted social media posts, I am willing to fight for anything that will provide our students, staff and parents with the feeling of safety and security they deserve.

I do believe that Heather Reynolds wants our district to be successful, as do I. Unlike Heather Reynolds, who claims that student achievement is plummeting, I maintain that the opposite is true. ranked Central Bucks the top district in the county, and our three high schools (East, South and West) in the top 1 percent in the entire state. These rankings include academic achievement, among other factors. U.S. News and World Report concurred, ranking Central Bucks among the best districts in the nation.

Recently, Central Bucks East was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the United States Department of Education, a recognition that only one-third of one percent of schools ever achieve. We’ve enacted a dynamic strategic plan and are actively pursuing large systemic changes to provide full-day kindergarten, move our middle schools to grades 6-8, and our high schools to grades 9-12, all under the clear and capable leadership of our administrative team and superintendent.

Are these the accolades and actions of a failing district in need of overhaul?

We should be thrilled by what is happening in our district, committed to ensuring the very best for our students, and partnered with our community, and that includes respecting the rights of our parents to be involved and informed. Mrs. Reynolds would have you believe we are imploding.

She speaks of fiscal irresponsibility as she maligns our district for defending itself in a lawsuit and compensating our superintendent at a proportional rate. What she fails to mention is that she has interacted with a plaintiff’s lawyer to gauge the likelihood of our district settling on a case that has no merit, has not even gone to trial, and would cause a tax increase of over 50 percent to all district residents while eliminating essential services like transportation, and activities like athletics, band and more.

Heather Reynolds and I are both running for School Board in November. One of us will win. Let’s make sure that our students and families do as well.



DelVal Counties–Except Philadelphia–Sign on to Opioid Settlement

Pennsylvania counties piled on to the national opioid settlement for their cut of more than $1 billion to use to address the opioid epidemic.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced last month that 50 counties—roughly 75 percent of Pennsylvania’s counties—had agreed to join the opioid settlement. Payments would be used for treatment for those impacted by opioid addiction.

The lawsuit against Cardinal, McKesson, Amerisource Bergen, and Johnson & Johnson was officially settled in July of last year and settled globally to resolve 4,000 individual lawsuits.

Of the $1 billion owed to Pennsylvania, $232 million is expected to be delivered in 2022. Counties were allowed to join the settlement up to Jan. 2.

Aside from financial help, the court set a series of regulations for those companies as a result of the lawsuit that restrict how opioids are distributed as well as completely banning Johnson & Johnson from selling opioids for the next 10 years.

Between 2017 and 2020, some 16, 897 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses, with countless more having their lives impacted due to addiction.

Funding for each county was determined by how badly it had been affected by opioid addiction. While Philadelphia has rejected the settlement as being too little, other Delaware Valley counties are on board. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner rejected the $5 million to $8 million per year over 18 years ($90-$144 million in total).

Chester County announced in a press release on Dec. 16 it will receive $15.5 million from the settlement. It currently plans on using the funds for increasing Chester’s support of prevention efforts.

“Two major initiatives to emerge from the task force’s efforts are the County’s COPE program,” Said Chester County spokesperson Rebecca Brian.” A 24/7 warm handoff program that helps individuals who have suffered an overdose transition from the emergency room to treatment; and the Chester County Color 5K, an annual event which has helped to raise awareness of the crisis and more than $185,000 over six years to help fund the COPE program. The event also serves to reduce the stigma of being associated with substance use disorder.”

The first installment of the funds is expected to Chester County sometime later in 2022.

Montgomery County spokeswoman Kelly Cofrancisco said the county should receive $35,108,680 from the settlement on the stipulation that every other eligible county applies for funding. Montgomery County expects not every county to apply for the funding, and instead expects to receive less money. It will not know the actual amount until later this year.

County officials have not yet determined what they will use the money for, she said.

Bucks County also said it was too early to predict how much money it would be receiving and how it would eventually use it.

And Delaware County “is slated to receive $48.5 million (plus an additional share of $30 million),” according to a spokeswoman for Shapiro. She was unable to say how much Delaware County would receive from the additional $30 million statewide sum.

Delaware County spokeswoman Adrienne  Marofsky said, “There are still some undetermined factors which will impact the number, but the payment is estimated at $45-50 million, over 18 years. Once we are given a final amount and details of the timeline, we will work to develop a plan on how to best utilize the money for opioid prevention and treatment for residents.”

Exhibit E of the settlement papers outlines acceptable uses of the opioid case remediation. The state breaks down the uses by priority with two sections; Schedule A or “Core Strategies” and Schedule B or “Approved Uses.”

Core strategies are those which the state would like counties to prioritize and includes tactics like expanding Naloxone training and distribution, medication-assisted treatments, and treatments for pregnant women and infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Approved use includes a much broader load of acceptable uses, which are broken down into treatment, prevention, and “other strategies.”

“Other strategies” include overall education of community members and first responders, community-wide support for leadership, planning, and coordination, and research into several facets of society that either contribute to or are affected by the opioid epidemic.

“When the county filed its lawsuit in May 2018, we sought two things: to keep these and other similar companies from engaging in the acts and practices that led to the opioid crisis, and to be able to provide additional resources to the communities and families in our county who have been most impacted by their actions,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “The settlement agreement reached by Attorney General Shapiro and several other states provides for significant industry changes and up to $1 billion that Pennsylvania is set to receive. We want our residents to benefit from that agreement and have resources available to them now and intend to sign on.”

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