Laura Crispin is pursuing a personal goal of running for elective office by entering the race for school director. It’s something she has wanted to do since 2013, when she participated in a “Ready to Run” training event committed to electing more women to public office. After achieving several professional goals, Laura, who is passionate about education and education policy, says she’s excited about the opportunity to “put my expertise and passion into play for the betterment of our schools and community.”
Laura hopes to “bring a research-based perspective to school board decisions.” As a tenured professor of economics at St. Joseph’s University, Laura specializes in the economics of education, labor economics, and data analytics. Her research focuses on topics of great relevance to Haverford: effects of school and class size, factors in student achievement and high school completion, the role of extracurricular activities in education, and bullying in schools. She is also experienced with cost-benefit analysis and will provide valuable insight into issues concerning budgets, school overcrowding, special education, STEM education, and more.
Laura sees the district currently wrestling with two interconnected issues: increased student enrollment along with limited facilities and funding. She knows that young families are choosing to live in Haverford because of our schools’ excellent reputation, and while this is exciting, it is also stretching the capacity of district schools. Enrollment exceeded projections this year in four elementary schools, grades 6, 7, 9, and 11. Laura notes that lack of available space in the township for building new schools poses further challenges.
Laura recognizes that limited funding from the state and state-imposed limits on raising local school taxes create real challenges. If elected to the School Board, Laura would support continued negotiations with state officials in Harrisburg to procure “fair education funding in Pennsylvania.” She notes that success in that effort could translate into a $4 million increase for Haverford schools. Whatever the constraints, however, Laura looks forward to helping the district “make the best possible decisions about the future of our schools.”
As the parent of a 3-year-old child, Laura is aware that the township currently lacks sufficient Pre-K, Kindergarten enrichment, and before/after school services, an issue that’s come to the fore with the Brookline School closure. Although these services fall outside the school district’s purview, Laura would advise school directors to work together with the township, parents, and programs like Family Support Services/Elwyn to find timely remedies for the immediate problems.
Thinking long-term, Laura would recommend that school directors study the construction of a Kindergarten building, along the lines of Upper Darby’s Kindergarten Center. This structure could potentially house extracurricular activities and before/after school care, as well. Having a dedicated Kindergarten facility would free up space in all five elementary schools. As an economist, Laura observes that the expense of constructing one new Kindergarten building would likely be less than renovating all five elementary schools to meet expanding space demands.
With so many challenges – and opportunities – up ahead, Laura is excited to serve on the Haverford Township School Board and to apply her economics expertise to the issues at hand.