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Six candidates running for Pa. school board

May 12, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Six candidates - two unopposed incumbents, an incumbent with opposition and three challengers - are running for the four seats available this year in the Chambersburg Area School District.

The way things shape up, the question of who wins in the non-partisan election could be decided as soon as the May 20 primary or, depending on primary results, the names of all six could be on the ballot in November.

The only two shoe-ins are unopposed incumbents Robert L. Helman and Fred E. Rice.

Incumbent Board President D. Eugene Gayman is also seeking re-election but he is being challenged by Barbara S. Montgomery.

Incumbent Board Member Joel Sollenberger is not seeking re-election. His seat is being sought by Beverly K. Sleighter and Dr. Thomas P. Orndorf, a local physician.

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There are nine members on the board serving four-year terms. Among them are three farmers, an industrial salesman, a school bus driver, a tradesman, insurance agent, a retired educator and a teacher.

Every two years four or five seats come up for re-election on a rotating basis. Candidates cross-file across party lines in school board elections.

Gayman, 66, of 2856 Keefer Road, Chambersburg, is the senior member of the board with 22 years of service. An insurance agent, Gayman served for 18 years from 1963 through 1981. He returned to his current four-year term in 1993. Currently board president, Gayman has held the top post for about five years over his career.

Gayman said he is running for re-election because of his years of experience, his belief in public education and because of his 11 grandchildren. "I also believe in a lay school board where people of different backgrounds and occupations come together to make policy," he said.

Montgomery, 56, of 18 Downing Road, Chambersburg, retired as head of school health services for the district she hopes to serve as school board member.

She said she's running because she is familiar with the district and the community. "Anyone who is elected must represent a majority of the people in the district," she said.

Vying for the seat being vacated by Sollenberger are Orndorf and Sleighter.

Orndorf, 38, has three children in the district. "I came through the district too," he said. He said his experiences in his own medical practice plus those in the community give him much to contribute as a board member.

Sleighter, 47, has an 11-year-old boy in the school system. "I have no particular reason to run. I was told there was an opening and was asked if I would be interested in running for it," she said.

Sleighter works for an automobile dealership in Waynesboro, Pa.

Helman, a dairy farmer, said he has always been interested in education. He said at one time he considered becoming a teacher and not a farmer. His father was on the board for 30 years, he said. He said emphasis is needed on extra-curriculum activities to give students a well-rounded education.

Rice, also a farmer, said he wants to use the knowledge and experience he gained in his first four-year term to serve the board for four more years. "I had a lot to learn and I learned the process. I feel I can do more in a second term. It's a huge job and it takes a lot of time," he said.

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