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Group's goal is to re-elect Pa. school board boss

August 14, 1997

By ELLEN LYON

Staff Writer

MERCERSBURG - An unsuccessful candidate for the Tuscarora School Board has formed a group called We the People to support the reelection of the current board president in the November election.

Ralph E. Sipes, of Lemasters, Pa., wrote in a letter to the editor that the group has a short-range goal of re-electing Giancarlo "John" Angelini to another four-year term on the school board and a long-range goal of making the education system "responsive to the needs of the community."

Sipes described We the People as a conservative group of about seven members who have been meeting every other Saturday since June.

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Among its members are Gerald Landis and Melford Kendle, who along with Sipes ran on a slate with Angelini in the May primary, Sipes said. Only Angelini was successful.

He won on the Democratic ballot but lost on the Republican ballot to candidates Jeffrey Spidel, Janice Hawbaker, Jane Rice and Roger Price.

The five candidates will vie in the Nov. 4 general election for four seats on the school board.

Angelini has "an uphill battle," since the district is predominantly Republican, Hawbaker said.

Hawbaker said she thinks We the People is a "campaign committee for Dr. Angelini" and that "their real concern is money, taxes. That's not an unfounded concern. It's just that that's their only concern in my opinion."

With about 2,700 students and 180 teachers, the school district has an $18.6 million annual budget, costing the average taxpayer about $825 a year in school taxes, Superintendent Ted Rabold said.

In the last two years the school board has controlled costs while maintaining quality, Angelini said.

After seven years of substantial school tax increases each year, there has been only one tax hike in the last three years, he said.

Angelini said he believes the school board should be "heavily involved" in curriculum with input from professional educators.

The school board is responsible for setting policy and overseeing the administration, Sipes said.

But some of Angelini's opponents accuse the school board of getting too involved.

"From what I've seen (Angelini) and some of the other board members that are in there are into micro-managing rather than letting the administrators who are more familiar with the issues do their job," Spidel said.

"They don't trust the administration. I think it's really sad there's so much dissension between the school board, the administration and the teachers. We should be working together," Hawbaker said.

The board held some acrimonious meetings about 14 months ago but now there is only "occasional tension" and for the most part "we disagree agreeably," Angelini said.

We the People also supports greater public attendance at board meetings because without it, "it's spend as usual. Take care of the special interest groups," Sipes said.

The group wants to videotape meetings so that people who can't attend can watch them later, he said.

And business should be conducted more openly. "We should have less going on behind closed doors in executive session," Sipes said.

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