|Board member, West Chester Area School District, At-large|
|High school||Central Bucks East High School|
|Bachelor's||East Stroudsburg University|
LaTorre has resided in the West Chester Area School District since 1997. She is married and has two sons. She graduated from Central Bucks East High School in 1984, East Stroudsburg University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, and Villanova Law School in 1992. LaTorre worked professionally as a registered nurse at Doylestown Hospital and then as an associate attorney in the specialty of medical malpractice with the law firm of Kassab, Archbold, & O’Brien, LLP. In 2001, she decided to end her full time employment and stay home to raise her children. Since then, she has worked part time at Great Beginnings Christian Preschool as a teacher’s assistant. LaTorre spends her free time volunteering in the library at East Goshen Elementary, chaperoning field trips, and volunteering at the Spring Fair and Ropes Course.
LaTorre lost the election on November 5, 2013.
|West Chester Area School District, General Election, 4-year term, 2013|
|Democratic||Ricky L. Swalm||13.4%||9,395|
|Republican||Edward Coyle Incumbent||11.5%||8,046|
|Republican||Sean Carpenter Incumbent||11.5%||8,046|
|Republican||Maria Pimley Incumbent||11%||7,688|
|Source: Chester County, Pennsylvania, "Summary Report," accessed December 13, 2013|
|West Chester Area School District, Democratic Primary Election, 4-year term, 2013|
|Democratic||Ricky L. Swalm||20.3%||2,522|
|Democratic||Edward Coyle Incumbent||3.4%||423|
|Democratic||Maria Pimley Incumbent||3.4%||418|
|Democratic||Sean Carpenter Incumbent||3.2%||401|
|Source: Chester County, Pennsylvania, "Summary Report," accessed October 31, 2013|
|West Chester Area School District, Republican Primary Election, 4-year term, 2013|
|Republican||Sean Carpenter Incumbent||18.4%||3,741|
|Republican||Edward Coyle Incumbent||17.3%||3,521|
|Republican||Maria Pimley Incumbent||15.8%||3,208|
|Republican||Ricky L. Swalm||7.5%||1,523|
|Source: Chester County, Pennsylvania, "Summary Report," accessed October 31, 2013|
LaTorre reported no contributions or expenditures to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
LaTorre received endorsements from the Republican Committee of Chester County and the three incumbents.
As Republican-endorsed candidates, Carpenter, Pimley, Coyle and LaTorre addressed the following questions for their 2013 campaign:
Did your incumbent candidates decrease the general fund balance that is needed to help the district with financial emergencies?
No. Prior to our incumbent candidates taking office, the general fund balance was approximately 4%. Presently, it is 8%. Since coming into office in 2009, they more than doubled the district’s general fund balance, from $7.8 million in 2009 to $16 million in 2013. During this time, the board also established $12 million in committed funds to deal with pension costs, healthcare costs, and to offset millage increases. The board’s conservative budgeting was even highlighted by Moody’s Investor’s Services when they re-affirmed the District’s Aaa rating in December, 2012. According to Moody’s: “The district’s financial position is expected to remain stable given management’s effective implementation of expenditure cuts, a history of conservative budgeting practices, and a demonstrated commitment to maintaining satisfactory reserves."
If the board truly wanted to settle the teachers’ contract, why aren’t the school board members present at the negotiating table?
When teachers salaries compose approximately 45% of the district’s operating budget, it would be irresponsible not to utilize the skills of a professional negotiator in order to obtain a sustainable contract that will also allow us to continue to provide the high quality education that our students deserve. The board has empowered a strong ‘table team’ consisting of our top administrative talent and our professional negotiator to ensure our negotiations are focused on coming to a successful agreement.
During contract negotiations the teachers have made millions of dollars in concessions, however, the board has not offered any concessions. Why?
The board did not come to the table with an extreme and unreasonable position, expecting to work to a middle ground, as it appears the Union had. The board came to the table with an offer that reflected an affordable, viable contract proposal which fits within realistic budget constraints.
Has the current board cut special education funding?
No, there have not been any cuts nor are any proposed for special education funding. In fact, spending for special education goes up every year. While there may be reductions for Medicaid reimbursements from the state, the school district is obligated by law to pay for those costs.
Are the present school board members, running as candidates, undermining public education?
Among other accomplishments, Sean Carpenter, Ed Coyle, and Maria Pimley hired 37 new teachers in 2013, brought in a new middle school math program with six new math specialists, renovated three elementary schools, and increased funding for special education, music, and arts. All nine of their children are in public school, as well.
Why did the present school board reject a $900,000 federal grant for early reading programs for preschool-age children residing in the district?
The grant in question was guaranteed for only two years. After that, the district would have had to fund the program annually, much like an unfunded mandate, to preschools over which they had no oversight. This means that when the funds ran out, this would have pulled taxpayer dollars from our K-12 schools to private and religious preschools. The Board explained their concerns multiple times at public meetings.
Why has the Board taken no initiative to implement a full-day, district-wide kindergarten program while funding full-day kindergarten for charter schools in the district?
The district has full-day kindergarten for at-risk students. All-day kindergarten for all interested students was explored, but currently we do not have the facilities for it. The district has no control over what programs charter schools offer.
Do Advanced Placement (AP) courses routinely have 30 students, exceeding the district guidelines of 25 students per class?
No, in fact 60% of our AP classes have fewer than 25 students. Despite some larger class sizes, more students are taking AP exams than before, and scoring well enough to receive college credit.
Why did some administrators, principals, and teachers leave the district within the past year?
Because we have excellent teachers and administrators, when there are openings for positions, our staff generally come out as top candidates. Some have accepted positions as superintendents, business managers, and cabinet members for either personal or professional reasons. During this time, we have retained many excellent educators, promoting internally for Assistant Superintendent, Director of Secondary Education, principals, and many other positions.
Where did the district “discover” $10 million after the Fact Finder issued his report?
The district collected $2 million in delinquent taxes after filing financials for the Fact Finder and saved another $2 million in expenses, for a total of $4 million. The $10 million number is false.
Why has the school board deliberately engaged in long, protracted, and damaging contract negotiations?
The Board would like nothing more than to settle the contract. The teacher’s union has rejected both the independent Fact Finder’s report and another offer made by the board, containing further salary and benefit increases.
Aren’t the “Better Direction” candidates non-partisan?
These candidates, despite their party registration, support yearly tax hikes to the maximum extent of the law, union control, and unsustainable budget expenditures that will lead to fewer teachers.
Note: The above quote is from the candidate's website, which may include some typographical or spelling errors.
What was at stake?
Four seats on the West Chester Area school board were at stake in the election. Incumbents Edward Coyle, Maria Pimley and Sean Carpenter sought re-election. Finances are one of the largest challenges in the district, so the new board will continue to address ongoing funding questions, including the benefits of tax increases and program cuts. The newly elected board with also address an ongoing teacher contract debate.
About the districtChester County, Pennsylvania. The county seat of Chester County is West Chester. According to the 2010 US Census, Chester County is home to 506,575 residents.
Chester County outperformed the rest of Pennsylvania in terms of its average median rates of household income, poverty rate and higher education achievement in 2011. The median household income in Chester County was $86,264 compared to $51,651 for the state of Pennsylvania. The poverty rate in Chester County was 6.1% compared to 12.6% for the entire state. The US Census also found that 48.1% of Chester County residents aged 25 years and older attained a Bachelor's degree compared to 26.7% in Pennsylvania.
Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100.0%. Each column will add up to 100.0% after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Pam + LaTorre + West + Chester + School"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Leadership for West Chester Schools, "About Us," accessed November 1, 2013
- Pennsylvania Department of State, "Campaign Finance Online Reporting," accessed December 18, 2013
- League of Women Voters of Chester County, Pennsylvania, "School Director At Large; West Chester School District Voter Information," accessed October 31, 2013
- Leadership for West Chester, "FAQ," accessed November 1, 2013
- Daily Local News, "8 West Chester school board hopefuls represent 2 slates, Jeremy Gerrard May 12, 2013
- Daily Local News, "West Chester Area teachers press for a contract," Jeremy Gerrard October 28, 2013
- United States Census Bureau, "Chester County, Pennsylvania," accessed October 31, 2013
- Pennsylvania Department of State, "Voter Registration Statistics," accessed October 23, 2013
- United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014