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Four vie to represent North End on Waynesboro Area School Board

May 03, 2011

Editor’s note: Pennsylvania’s primary election is May 17, when voters will choose representatives from their own parties to advance to the municipal election in November.

For the Waynesboro Area School Board, a total of six seats are up for grabs. Voters in that school district elect by regions based on where they live. The three regions are Waynesboro borough, Washington Township and the North End, which includes Quincy Township, Mont Alto and a portion of Guilford Township.

The Herald-Mail asked the school board candidates appearing on ballots to answer several questions. Candidates were asked to be as succinct as possible. Their responses have been edited for style.

Below are the answers from the North End candidates for the Waynesboro Area School Board. The top vote-getters on the Republican and Democratic sides will advance. Two seats are open.

In Pennsylvania, school board candidates can choose to cross-file to appear on Republican and Democratic ballots.





Tammy Black

Age: 44

Address: 8115 Shank Hess Road, Waynesboro

Political party: Republican (cross-filed)

Incumbent: No

 

Why did you decide to run for office?

I decided to run for office because we need to return our focus to doing all we can to prepare our children to be productive and responsible citizens, and education is where this process begins.

What in your background prepares you for this position?

Being the parent of a child in the district, running a family and having a desire to see the children grow and the community become something we can be proud of prepares me for this position.

What do you perceive as the biggest issues for the board?

I think the biggest problem for the board is shifting the focus back to what is best for the children and the future. Having this focus will allow the board to make better fiscal decisions.

How would you tackle budget problems?

The first step would be a detailed review of the budget. Having insight into how the funds are currently disbursed, weighed against what is needed, would allow me to provide a more detailed response to that question.

Why should people vote for you?

I think I could bring a fresh perspective to the board. I also believe that the community should be proactively informed of the board’s vision and direction. Most of all, I believe the children deserve the best we can offer them.   



Firmadge Crutchfield

Age: 46

Address: 8770 Orlando Drive, Waynesboro

Political party: Republican (cross-filed), incumbent



Why did you decide to run for office?

When I first applied for this position in 2007 due to an unexpected vacancy, I saw a board that had repeatedly overspent its budget on an elaborate school building ($47 million), among other things, and put the school district, the students and the public in a precarious financial position. I applied for the position when it was advertised and I was told I was not “the type of person the board needed.” When I ran for office several months later, I made one commitment — to vote my conscience and what was in the best interest of the entire community as a whole. As an incumbent, I can now look back at my voting record and state that I have been true to my commitment. I have a healthy respect for the importance of the school board director position. A school board member not only sets policy for the school district as a whole but also makes decisions regarding tax levels which greatly affect the community. I have spent almost four years gaining experience in the position and feel that my efforts, as well as the efforts of other members of the board, have benefited students, the administration and the taxpaying community as a whole.

What in your background prepares you for this position?

I am a senior executive with a multimillion-dollar corporation, and have relevant experience managing people, budgets and finances. As a licensed attorney, I am able to spot issues which have an impact on board decisions and in conjunction with the board counsel, discuss and analyze those matters in great detail. I have also been the assistant dean of a law school and taught several law school courses, so I am better able to understand the relationship between teachers, students and administration.

What do you perceive as the biggest issue for the board?

The biggest issue for the board is, hands down, the financial status of the Waynesboro Area School District brought on by reckless spending in the past by previous boards, as well as a general decrease in revenues brought on by our national recession as well as our state’s budgetary issues. Given this decline in revenues, the board finds itself with a $1.9 million dollar shortfall, an aggressive union lobbying for salary increases, a student body which deserves the best education the community can provide and a taxpayer community suffering like the rest of the country from the economic recession. There are no easy choices but the answer is NOT to tax the community beyond its means. The answer is to continue the stewardship the majority of the current board has been providing and ingrain the process of making healthy financial decisions with a focus on our students and the future, and not the independent factions all vying for declining budget dollars.

How would you tackle the budget problem?

As noted above, the current board IS tackling the budget issue. The board is making realistic spending decisions (saving thousands and thousands of dollars by pursuing strategic physical plant upgrades, reissuing bonds at lower interest rates, etc.), making strategic budget cuts with a focus on the students and not necessarily the special-interest groups, and trimming every ounce of pork that it can. The majority of the board is no longer a rubber stamp for the administration — decisions are weighed heavily, and students and taxpayers are always first in the minds of the majority of the existing board members. As an example, the board has been negotiating with the union regarding pay increases and has taken a strong position against salary increases, given the financial situation of the community. This has not been a popular position with the union, but it is a position that must be taken.

Why should people vote for you?

As I hope this article makes clear, my positions and ultimate decisions are completely translucent. I make no secret of the manner in which I am going to vote on any given topic, and the logic under which I operate is straightforward as set forth in this article. I have a sincere interest in this community and the health and well-being of all of its members. I do not fall prey to special interests, and always focus on what will benefit the students and the community in whole.



Emily R. Hartsock

Age: 41

Address: 6310 Wayne Highway, Waynesboro

Political party: Republican



Why did you decide to run for office?

I feel elementary and secondary education are unequivocally essential to a student’s future. Our district’s teaching professionals hold a prominent role in present and future accomplishments achieved by the students in our community. Ultimately, the teachers, professionals and board members of the Waynesboro Area School District have a hand in shaping the future of Waynesboro’s children. I truly feel all the children of the district should be a top priority and a consideration in every decision a school board faces.

What in your background prepares you for this position?

As an employee of the Lincoln Intermediate Unit #12, I have a diversified perspective of the education system, including special education and learning support. As an active supporter and participant in the success of my own family business, I have gained valuable firsthand financial experience. I feel I have gained vital insight as a parent who has been an active participant in my children’s academic journey within the district.

What do you perceive as the biggest issues for the board?

Providing a quality education for all students while creating the best educational environment possible. Due to the district’s current financial restraints, this is a difficult task to accomplish. Students of the district must be the number-one priority and recourses need to be used wisely. Attracting and retaining quality teachers who consistently strive to be outstanding educators, therefore preparing students for the increasing challenges in our world.

How would you tackle budget problems?

Open communication must not only occur within the school board but among all district faculty, as well. Open communication will ensure all resources and finances are used wisely while producing the most effective results for the students and district. Teachers’ salaries need not be looked at as a hindrance but should be negotiated fairly. When quality teachers are supported and therefore retained, academic achievement will improve, as will the school district’s overall health.

Why should people vote for you?

I pledge to actively, fairly and cooperatively work together with board members to maintain our finances while not compromising education quality for the students of our community. In addition, I pledge to do so with careful and thoughtful weighed consideration of all tasks and issues presented to the Waynesboro Area School District.



Ed Wilson

Age: 55

Address: 11610 South Mountain Road, Fayetteville (South Mountain)

Political Party: Republican (cross-filed), incumbent



Why did you decide to run for office?

Around five years ago, there was an article in The Record Herald, the heading read ‘$47 million for new school.’ I was not happy that they were spending so much money on one school and ignoring the others. Shortly after the article, there was an opening on the board to fill in Todd Rock’s position, so I applied. At the public meeting, I felt I was treated with hostility so when I didn’t get appointed, I went to Firmadge Crutchfield, who did not get appointed either (and treated the same way). I asked him if he wanted to run as a team; we won by a big majority.

What in your background prepares you for this position?

I have worked for the public most of my adult life. I was employed at WTMA for 17 years, I have owned my own convenience store and for the last nine years, I have worked for Quincy Township. I am in constant contact with the public and I know in the North Area a lot of the folks are conservative, they want the best education possible but they do not believe that raising taxes solves the problems. They expect you to cut wasteful spending, research your expenditures and not rubber stamp everything that comes along. In other words, spend the taxpayers’ money like it is your own money.

What do you perceive as the biggest issues for the board?

Actually I have two issues, education and the budget. When I read of poor school districts doing exceptionally well nationwide, I have to wonder why we barely make AYP in the higher grades. Example, Wisconsin, the average teacher’s salary is $48,000, (ours is $57,000). It also ranks in the top half nationally on standardized tests. Why can’t we do better?

How would you tackle budget problems?

Almost two years ago when I became president, I formed five committees, one of which was a budget committee. The administration presents their recommendations first. If the board feels that the administration’s recommendations are not enough, then the committee which consists of four board members will try to determine where else money can be saved. They look at refinancing bonds, cutting programs that would have the least effect on the student body, eliminating staff through attrition, every aspect possible then they bring their recommendations to the board for approval. One person on that committee I would like to praise is Billie Finn. She is an exceptional woman that does an extreme amount of research with everything she does, is detail- oriented and has been invaluable to our district.

Why should people vote for you?

I will continue to make decisions and vote with the public in mind at all times, as I have in the past. I can say this since I have been on the board. With this current board, we have definitely shaken things up, we ask a lot of questions, we do not fund anything unless we research it. Unlike in the past, this board works for the people. I am not only about spending, I truly believe we need quality education and another one of my committees is academics. In that committee we have been in discussion with the administration, teachers and department heads concerning block scheduling. Is it right for the district or should we try something else? The next item on my list for discussion will be how does this district become one that excels above others? I am not one to become complacent. I believe that I was elected to do a job and I take that very serious. I believe it is my and the board’s responsibility to get the best education possible, and do it by controlling wasteful spending, being efficient and thinking outside of the box.

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