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Two contested races in Chambersburg school board primary

May 03, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Six seats on the Chambersburg School Board are up for election this year, but only two involve contested races in the May 15 primary.

Stanley Helman, 51, 2468 Guilford Station Road, is running for a fourth four-year term. His opponent for the Region 2 seat is Michael Cerveris, 58, of 5118 Burkholder Road.

The future of the Franklin County Career and Technology Center and the planned expansion of Chambersburg Area Senior High School are the most pressing issues for the district, Helman said.

The district is drafting a plan to present to the other five participating districts which calls for Chambersburg to run the center. Chambersburg also is sending its vocational students there full time for both academic and career instruction.

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"The consensus of the Chambersburg board, and it appears most of the other districts agree, is that the school can operate more efficiently with one district in charge," said Helman, a farmer.

Helman said he has also been a leader in upgrading school security.

"If there's a plan for the future, I haven't seen it," said Cerveris. The board needs to develop a plan that looks 10 and 20 years down the road at the educational needs of students and work force needs of business and industry.

"What I have is a lot of organizational experience and I'm a good planner," said Cerveris, a past president of the Pennsylvania Dental Association.

"I also have a tough skin and that making the right decision is not always the most popular thing," Cerveris said.

Only five of the nine board seats were in the election rotation this year, but the December death of Region 1 board member Paul Ambrose resulted in William Tolleson, 45, of 43 Jackson Drive, being appointed to the seat in January. He and his opponent, Joseph Tosten, 66, of 1620 Philadelphia Ave., are running for a two-year term to fill the remainder of Ambrose's term.

"I have a strong background in leadership, project management and technology implementation," said Tolleson, who previously served as chairman of the Culpeper County (Va.) School Board.

That included school construction projects during his time on the board, said Tolleson, who works at the Target Distribution Center.

"We have this large capital improvement upcoming and that's in the background of the new funding model, which I like," Tolleson said, referring to Act 1 which, if approved by district voters on May 15, could shift some school taxes from real estate to earned income.

In the future, Act 1 could also result in taxpayers voting on school budgets in a referendum, if a proposed tax increase exceeds an inflationary index set by the state.

"People are really pounding me about taxes being too high," said Tosten, a retired contractor. He said he supports Act 1 and believes the public has a right to vote on large school funding increases.

Tosten also said his sons and nephews went to the career center, and it provides valuable job training for students who will not be going on to college. Tosten said he favors Chambersburg running the center, rather than creating its own career and technology center at property the district owns in Greenvillage, Pa.

Each candidate filed to run in both the Republican and Democratic primaries, so each could emerge from the primary still in the running for the November election.

Chambersburg will have at least one new face on the board by the end of the year. Anne G. Boryan is the only candidate for the Region 9 seat. Lori Leedy of Region 5, David Sciamanna of Region 7 and Renee Sharpe of Region 8 are unopposed in the primary.

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