Know Your School Board Candidates – Karen Beck Pooley

Karen Beck Pooley ’s Response

BASD Proud Parents sent out a brief questionnaire to all of the candidates running for school board so you may get a chance to know a little about them before you vote!

1. Please tell us your name and a little about yourself.

My name is Karen Beck Pooley – I was a founding member of BASD Proud Parents and am currently in my 8th year on the School Board.  I also have two children in the district, both at Liberty High School (although one soon to graduate!).

Why have you decided to be a candidate for the school board?

I originally ran for school board because I’m a big believer in public schools and feel they’re both a vital path to upward mobility for students and also an essential piece of our city and neighborhoods.  I’m a city planner in my professional life (and also teach about it at Lehigh University), focusing primarily on housing and neighborhood revitalization.  You can’t talk about either of those things – or get either of those things working best for residents – without also thinking about schools.  So being on School Board gives me a chance to do just that.  I ran again four years ago and am running again this year because I’ve loved the work.

What is your view of the purpose of public education?

Our public schools do multiple things.  First and foremost, they help children (all children) find their “passion and purpose” and get prepared for college or a career, and to be active community members, after graduation.  And second, they’re key neighborhood anchors.  They provide supports and services not only for children but for families; they act as local gathering spaces; they’re part of a neighborhood’s and the city’s history.

What are your top five objectives if elected to the school board?

1) Continue the momentum on all of the good work the district is already doing around Reading by Grade 3, social and emotional supports for students, and the high schools’ college and career pathways.

2) Continue the momentum on things the district is currently launching, such as extending that literacy program into the middle schools and starting a similar initiative focused on math.

3) Continue the incredible community collaborations the district has built up or is building: Any Given Child (arts), Fit for Life (athletics), access to behavioral and mental health services at all of our buildings.

4) Continue to advocate for full and fair funding from Harrisburg – in the last few years, BASD’s state allocation of Basic Education Funding has increased by $12.5 million, which has meant more investment in programming for students and no tax increases for local taxpayers.

5)  Continue to invest in BASD facilities – COVID relief funds have made it possible to replace over a dozen HVAC systems at area elementary schools but we face larger facility needs at Fountain Hill, Thomas Jefferson and William Penn elementary schools.

Please list your volunteer activities within the school or your community.

Northside Alive, Community Action Development Bethlehem, Pennsylvanians for Fair Funding, Northampton Community College Board of Trustees, SouthSide Arts District

Have you ever attended a school board meeting?


If yes to above, under what circumstances were you there?

As a school director since 2015

Would you be willing to meet with [BASD Proud Parents], on a regular basis, to discuss issues of importance to children and education in our school district?


Any closing thoughts?

I would love to figure out more frequent check-ins (if that’s what people want) between BASD Proud Parents and the School Board!  I’m also happy to answer any other questions or touch base about any of these answers.  Thank you so much for reaching out!