In addition to serving as vice-president of the Haverford School Board, Bridget Wiedeman is a Senior Director at Reinvestment Fund. Her job is to structure and deploy capital for community agencies such as health centers, childcare centers, and schools when they are developing facilities in underserved neighborhoods. For over 20 years, she has worked for economic justice by utilizing financing for social impact She won’t say it, but Board president Larry Feinberg will: “Bond financing is not the sexiest topic,” and many School Board members’ “eyes glaze over” when faced with an auditor’s report. It is Bridget who takes the responsibility to “read every line of a funding proposal or an auditor’s report and then ask just the right question.” As a candidate for a four-year term on the School Board, Bridget offers exactly the sort of expertise needed to oversee imminent capital projects at the high school and at Lynnewood, Coopertown, and Chatham Park elementary schools.
Reflecting on the $63 million in financing required for these much-needed facilities projects, Bridget quickly ticks off the multiple goals to be balanced:
- A quality educational environment appropriately sized for future needs
- Parity across the District in schools’ climate controls and amenities
- Efficient energy use at every site
- Accessibility for the whole community to use beyond school hours
- Affordability for the township; maximum “bang for the buck.”
Bridget credits our “great community” and “excellent schools” with attracting young families to Haverford and, in turn, creating the growth in school population that stretches the District’s budget. Increased enrollment, Bridget notes, does not automatically trigger sufficient increases in state or local funding. A school board with expertise and vision must plan for growth and embrace the benefits of greater student diversity.
Given her eye for detail, Bridget looks forward to serving on a task force to review the many policies governing School Board practices. She sees an opportunity to bring confusing or outdated directives in line with modern best practices and to make regulations “welcoming and transparent” for parents and taxpayers.
Given the value she places on social justice, prudent financing, and transparency, Bridget envisions a private-public partnership to deliver the childcare needed from pre-K through after-school care. She hopes the current public outcry on this issue will cause private providers to “amplify their offerings” in Haverford. She thinks that Township and School Board officials can work together to identify and implement zoning changes that allow for strategically placed childcare, bus routes that meet demand and state law, and a needs assessment in the pre-K population so that private providers can build for the market and the District can anticipate the size of future classes. Bridget hopes to continue her service on the Board to support Haverford’s quality schools and community values.