Tuscarora board candidates list priorities

May 15, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

The Tuscarora School District will see at least three new directors in 2010.

The school district made headlines in 2008 when its contract negotiations prompted teachers to strike and its $35 million referendum question to repair was voted down by voters.

Three of the five incumbents up for re-election did not file for the primary.

Incumbents Jane Rice, Janice Hawbaker and Kenneth Nolen did not petition for re-election and will see their tenure expire this year.

Larry Funk and Donnie Piper have cross-filed to run for the four open four-year terms along with challengers Robert Lathrop, Jon Heebner, Erich Hawbaker and Harold Hunsberger.


Tom Black is the only candidate registered on both ballots for the open two-year term held by Nolen.

The Hatch Act prevents Nolen from running for the seat to which the board appointed him in September because he is a federal employee.

Voters will still have the option to write in names on the May 19 ballot, Franklin County Chief Deputy Clerk Jean Byers said.

Only the top four vote-getters from each primary will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The winning candidates will take office Jan. 1, 2010.

School board directors are not paid in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The candidates

Tom Black of Diehlds Woods Road was unavailable for comment.

Larry Funk, 57, of Hager Road, has served on the board for less than two years. Appointed in 2007 to fill a vacancy, he said he is running again to help keep the board on its current track. Being a school director is his way of giving back to the community, Funk said.

"I try to give back to my community not just sit around," he said. "I think the district is on a pretty good track and our biggest challenges now are some of the laws in Harrisburg (Pa.) that tie our hands."

Funk said he has lived in the Tuscarora School District all of his live, except when he was in the military, and has one grandchild attending school in the district.

Erich Hawbaker, 26, of Linden Avenue, said Tuscarora is in need of some common sense and some fiscal responsibility. As a banker, he said he can bring that to the board. Hawbaker said he chose to run because he wanted to see change in the way matters are handled by the board.

"I thing we need to bring some common sense to the way this board operates, and there is not much there lately as I have seen," he said. "We need fiscal responsibility, meaning that whatever spending is done, it is done with the taxpayers in mind. Improvements need done but they done incrementally and by priority."

Hawbaker said he does not have children in the school district, but that he is a graduate of the system.

Jon Heebner, 43, of Parnell Drive, said he tossed his hat in the ring at the request of his neighbors. He said he is not dissatisfied with the direction in which the school board is moving, but he felt running for office was something he needed to do.

"One of the biggest problems is that our properties are taxed very heavily," he said. "I think we could pay a higher earned income tax to lessen property taxes."

Heebner said he has lived in the district all of his life and has raised four children in the school district.

Harold Hunsberger, age unknown, of Welsh Run Road, said he taught for 42 years in the Tuscarora School District. Hunsberger said he chose to run to do his part to change the direction the district has gone in the last few years.

His son, Daryl Hunsberger, serves as a School Board Director in Tuscarora.

Robert Lathrop, 77, of Mercersburg, said he is a retired professor of education at Florida State University and hopes that his background in education can be an asset to the board.

Lathrop said he has been attending meetings and writing letters to the editor for months because he is not satisfied with decisions made by the board.

"I decided I could not sit idly by and do nothing," he said. "I think the principal change need to be taken by the board is financial. (It) should set aside 10 percent of its budget for capital improvement so it does not have to go back to the voters and ask for an emergency bailout with a debt load of $35 million."

Lathrop said he has only lived in the district a short time, but has one grandchild attending school in the district and another who recently graduated from James Buchanan High School.

Donnie Piper, 54, of Reeder Drive, said he is running for re-election because after serving one full term, he felt the school district still has unfinished business.

Piper said there are schools with brown water, no heating or air conditioning and others not making adequate yearly progress.

"I want to see building renovations and better test grades," he said.

Piper said he is a lifelong resident of the district and has raised two children in its school system.

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