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Five seats up for grabs on Tuscarora School Board

October 29, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- With five seats up for grabs, the Tuscarora School Board could change significantly following Tuesday's municipal election in Pennsylvania.

Two incumbents are among five people looking to be selected to four four-year terms, while one man is running for the single two-year term. All are registered Republicans.

Mercersburg-area voters elect at large, meaning any registered voter in the school district can pick whichever candidates he wants. Some Pennsylvania school boards are divided into regions or wards.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The board will be responsible for budgeting as the cost of doing business escalates as well as effectively renovating James Buchanan High School.

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Larry E. Funk, 57, has served on the board for two years.

Funk, an adjunct professor at Kaplan University, wanted to see improvements in school maintenance, which he said has gotten dramatically better under new facilities director Stanley Morgan.

"We're catching up now, and I hope to get ahead of these things," said Funk, who highlighted his management and maintenance experiences from the U.S. Air Force.

Funk, of Hager Road, said he's worried about the budget as the board knows electricity rate caps are going to expire and pension contributions will increase. He feels state legislators need to intervene.

"There's likely a tsunami of taxes and costs that are going to hit the taxpayers," Funk said.

Erich Hawbaker, 26, is a banker who lives on Linden Avenue.

"The most important thing is to be cost-effective" with renovations, Hawbaker said. "We really don't have the luxury to be wasteful."

Hawbaker, who graduated from James Buchanan High School less than 10 years ago, said he thinks often about the budget and not raising taxes. He described himself as a fiscal conservative.

"I, like a lot of people, was upset by the spending referendum they tried to get through last year," Hawbaker said, referring to a Sept. 9, 2008, vote on $35 million of borrowing. That vote failed.

Jon Heebner, 44, is a home builder with Oliver Homes.

During school renovations, Heebner, of Parnell Drive, said the board needs "to take a very active role and be upfront. ... They're the ones putting money into it."

The renovations in the approved $17 million plan tackle the major needs at James Buchanan High School, according to Heebner, who said he sees those needs because he has school-aged children.

"I'm just trying to be a voice for the people. We need to spend within our means," Heebner said, noting that he feels extracurricular activities need to be preserved.

Donnie Piper, 54, has served one four-year term on the board.

Piper, whose background is in construction, spoke highly of high school architect Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates. He said the board needs to stay "very involved" to keep change orders from increasing project costs.

"We really need to watch what we're doing," he said.

Piper, of Reeder Drive, described his experience and understanding of state regulations as assets.

Harold Hunsberger, of Welsh Run Road, did not return two phone messages. He previously told The Herald-Mail that he taught 42 years in the school district.

Tom Black, of Diehls Woods Road, is running unopposed for the two-year term.

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