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February 2007
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April 2007

March 2007

Biased Opinions

I don't think I've ever met a Seller who didn't think his/her house is better than the neighbors'...'mine is bigger/nicer/cleaner/newer/more updated,' etc., etc.  Regardless of the reason, we all think ours is the best, especially when it is time to put it on the market and give it a price tag!  :)

Here are some homes that may not be the best but they can certainly claim to be 'different'...check them out HERE and let me know which is your favorite!  (No, none of them are in PA)

'Annie' playing this weekend...

Update 4/2/07:  What a huge success the play was!  I attended 3 shows and was teary-eyed every time from the joy of seeing those kids up there.  Kudos to both casts and the Director, Mrs. Summers!  And all of the parent volunteers-it was nice working with you!! I posted 2 pictures of my daughter in her roles in the photo album on the right side of this page-I took many more but cannot post the other children as I don't have permission from the parents.........

3/26/07:  My daughter's Drama Club is putting on productions of Annie this weekend...2 showings of Annie and 1 showing of Andy, an adaptation where all the orphans are boys.  Made up of 5th through 7th graders, this promises to be a charming show, and is being held at the Stroudsburg Junior High School on Chipperfield Drive.  Tickets are $3 at the door.


Annie Saturday, 3/31/07, at 1pm & Sunday, 4/1/07, at 7pm

Andy Saturday, 3/31/07, at 7pm

Real Estate Assistant Needed

Part time or full time position available for detail oriented person with superior communication & computer skills and an interest in the real estate business.  No RE license needed.  Varied duties include lots of email & website work, database management, mailings, scheduling, etc.  Penn Estates resident preferred but not necessary. 

Flexible schedule with some opportunity to work from home, although regular hours in my Stroudsburg office will be required.  Please email me if you are interested with a note detailing your experience and salary requirements. 

Hot Topic #1: School Taxes

Pennsylvania state capitol rotunda.jpg
Pennsylvania State Capitol Rotunda
photo credit

School Funding Formula Issues

I attended the presentation sponsored by my REALTOR(r) Association, 'Fighting for our Fair Share of School Funding', a discussion led by Ron Colwell, former member of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives and education funding expert and lobbyist.  The turnout was not that great considering how often we hear from people who are unhappy with their tax bills, but the presentation was very informative nonetheless.  While it did not present any earth-shattering revelations, or provide any miraculous remedies, it did reinforce a lot of things I knew already and drove home the idea that the problem is huge and not going away anytime soon.  Mr. Colwell, over an hour and a half, presented the following main points:

  • Problem #1:  Education is underfunded in Harrisburg, so, therefore, all the school districts in the State are competing for a too-small piece of the pie.
  • Problem#2:  The funding formula in PA is easy to explain because it doesn't exist...there is no real mystery in why there are inequities in the distribution of State dollars for schools because there are no guidelines or formulas.  Changes in funding for different districts stopped in 1991, which is when the last hint of a formula was last seen.  So, any changes in a district's number of students or relative wealth has meant nothing as far as funding is concerned.
  • Problem #3:  The result of #1 & 2 above equates to a $2.5-3B deficit in education funding...that's right, statewide we are BILLIONS of dollars short!  These billions are made up by, you got it, our school taxes.  Where the state, under normal circumstances, should be footing 50% of the bill for an 'average' district, our local districts are getting 23-25% from the state.  So, basically, property owners are footing the bill for Harrisburg's neglect of our schools, first by not budgeting enough for them to begin with and, second by not equalizing the distribution through use of a proper formula.

There Are No Easy Answers

Granted, this is not really new information-we've known this for a while.  What I learned from Mr. Colwell is something more fundamental and basic...something which we have not heard from our elected officials...which is the honest and brutal truth:  this problem is not going to go away and is not going to be fixed by belt-tightening in Harrisburg, nor by gambling, lotteries, or other such 'gimmicks' (his word!).  The projected revenue from slots will come no where near the $2.5 B that we need per year.  The plain fact is that we here in our beautiful state will need to pay the bill, someway, somehow, and probably generating the needed revenue through some other kind of tax.  No one seems to want to hear that or believe it, but I trust that this is the correct answer as unpleasant as that may be.  Only until we find an equitable way to distribute the costs to all of our residents, will property owners see any relief.

Tax Smokescreens

A couple of warnings presented by Mr. Colwell:  do not be fooled or lulled in to a sense well being on this issue by the receipt of a check from the state toward your tax bill, which some seniors might see this year...this 'tax relief' is a temporary fix, a band-aid.  Do not be fooled into thinking your representatives have done their job in Harrisburg because they bring back a check for this project or a grant for that...these 'deals' being cut by our reps. are only a symptom of the bigger problems and should be seen as a distraction from the real issues.  His advice, demand real changes and do not be swayed from the goal, which is true funding for our schools.

Any thoughts?

Further reading:

The Education Policy & Leadership Center

PA Dept. of Education 

Meet Our Neighbor-A Celebrity Lives Among Us!

We in Penn Estates are fortunate to have so many neighbors...there are 6,000+ of us living in the community!  I hope to use this site as a means to introduce us to each other, one neighbor at a time, and would appreciate anyone sending me info on someone you think should be featured here.

For this first introduction, I chose Anthony Stevens-Arroyo, recently 'retired' Professor of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College and Distinguished Scholar of the City University of New York, Civil & Human Rights expert, advisor to Jimmy Carter and others, and author of many books and publications.  I am certain that I don't do his credentials justice, but suffice it to say that I am proud to know him and our community is very fortunate to have him serve on our Board of Directors as Board Secretary.  Currently, Tony is trying his hardest to make retirement look terribly exhausting by continuing his work with Latino Groups and other organizations such as PBS.  He is also a panelist to the Washington Post's 'On Faith' blog, an ongoing discussion of religiousPict0110_4  issues which cover a surprising variety of topics. See his work HERE.  A quick search of the local newspaper's archives will give you more info on his activities.

Tony lives in Penn Estates with his wife, AnaMaria, herself a Professor and published  author, and their son, Adan, who is scheduled to graduate with a Master's Degree in  May.  You may run in to him at any number of Board meetings or community events, or find him swimming laps at the pool in the summertime.  Regardless, his big smile and friendly manner will welcome your 'hello'.