Greencastle School Board to pick five from seven candidates

November 03, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • Baer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — There will be some new faces on the Greencastle-Antrim School Board this year.

Five seats on the school board are up for grabs in the Nov. 8 general election.

Incumbents Eric Holtzman, Paul Politis and Melinda Cordell are running for a seat on the nine-member board against political newcomers Linda Farley, Tracy Baer, Ken Haines, and Michael Still.

All are running for four-year terms. School board members are elected at-large in the school district.

The Greencastle-Antrim School District serves students in Greencastle and Antrim Township.

Each candidate in the contested races completed a questionnaire for The Herald-Mail. Their responses were edited for length and punctuation. The questions are as follows:

1. Why are you running for a seat on the school board?

2. With less state and federal funding being devoted to education, how do you propose running the district in the next several years — cutting programs, positions or raising taxes?

3. What are some of the biggest challenges facing the school district?

Tracy L. Baer, 42, of 14175 Rocking M Lane, Greencastle, Pa.

Political party: Republican

Incumbent: No

Question 1: "My biggest motivation was all the talk about raising the mill rate and our taxes this year. I realized how important it was to step up and help the citizen fight to control tax increases that we cannot afford. There are a lot of current issues with the school district that citizens would like better representation on. I feel I will be able to ask the right questions of the administration to assist the citizen with getting better answers."

Question 2: "We need to take a hard look at the staffing, from the principals (on down). We need to make sure we are staffed correctly and that staff is doing the jobs we are paying them to do. We also need to start asking tough questions and making cuts where necessary. Personnel (is) the biggest part of a budget, which is where ... we need to start. Doing the same things just because that's the way it has always been is no longer the correct answer to the school district's finance situation."

Question 3: "Budgeting and finances are the biggest challenges facing the school district. This issue touches everything that we as school district representatives make decisions on. With over 20 years work experience in accounting, budgeting, and analysis I know I will be able to provide new and fresh ideas to assist our school board and administration be fiscally responsible.

Melinda E. Cordell, 47, of 6292 Angle Road, Chambersburg, Pa.

Political party: Republican

Incumbent: Yes

Question 1: "With growing up in this district and having 5 children in the school system, I have thought about being on the board for years. I want to give back to a community that has provided so much to me and my family. I want to be a voice for the taxpayers, parents and the students to ensure that everyone is heard."

Question 2: "The main challenges are to continue to put the educational needs of our children first while keeping tax increases at a minimum."

Question 3: "In our district our teachers and administrators took a pay freeze this past year to help balance the budget, but every year we are going to keep facing the same challenges with the budget. My main goal to find any cuts we can without hurting our education system and keeping taxes increase to a minimum."

Linda K. Farley, 61, of 79 Celestial Terrace, Greencastle, Pa.

Political party: Republican

Incumbent: No

Question 1: "Being a former educator, I have a strong interest in the education of our young people. Having six grandchildren in this school system, I would like to contribute towards making it the highest quality, most effective and student first system I can."

Question 2: "I see the largest challenges as 1. upgrading/modernizing facilities; 2. sustaining effective curriculum and curriculum development; 3. disciplined fiscal responsibility, spending taxpayer dollars effectively. These challenges can be met by employing a distant planning vision for capital expenditures as well as staff and faculty needs and supporting a professional accountability process for performance and results."

Question 3: "The school board will need to 'do more with less.' It needs to become more efficient. I would not want to see taxes raised or cuts to personnel."

Ken Haines, 49, of 227 Tyrone St., Greencastle, Pa.

Question 1: "As a life-time resident and parent of five children, who have attended the Greencastle-Antrim School District, I feel that it is my duty to help the community however possible. I would like to see decisions made that would be the best solution to enhance the proficiency and efficiency of the staff as well as creating a good, wholesome environment for the students while obtaining the best education possible."

Question 2 and 3: Budget — While still studying/researching the budget, I stand by a reasonable yet conservative mindset of being frugal however possible in these nationally tough financial times. Solutions will be offered and unnecessary expenses cut with the goal for ALL to make the budget balance.

Eric Holtzman, 43, of 59 Hearthside Lane, Greencastle, Pa.

Political party: Republican

Incumbent: Yes

Question 1: "It is an honor and privilege to serve our community and volunteer my time to further improve the education and opportunities for our youth. Being able to serve as a director allows me to use my experience and education in a positive way to benefit the community."

Question 2: "We can resolve the district's fiscal challenge by encouraging and supporting the growth and prosperity of the commercial businesses in our community. Second, we should always ensure that the contractual promises made by the district are affordable and fair to the employees and the community itself."

Question 3: "Since federal funding only provides 2 percent of our budget, and state funding has stabilized, albeit at a lower level, we need to continue a great educational program within our current means. I will continue the district's virtual program, which saves money and increases educational opportunities through the use of technology."

Paul Politis, 63, of 357 Blue Bird Trail, Greencastle, Pa.

Political party: Democrat

Incumbent: Yes

Question 1: "I've always valued education and have 20 years experience as a member of two different Pennsylvania school boards, along with having covered hundreds of school board meetings as a newspaper reporter in the 1970s and '80s. Hopefully I've gained knowledge, wisdom and perspective that can sometimes be helpful."

Question 2: "Maintaining quality education in a faltering economy, with declining state aid and increasing fixed costs in a growing school district. Communicating the importance of a good school system in maintaining property values, attracting jobs and keeping our kids in the area after graduation."

Question 3: "Experience has proved there's no magic formula. We must constantly evaluate the importance of each program and each position against current and potential funding available. As a homeowner, small businessman, parent and grandparent, I look at each issue from many perspectives and try to strike the best balance."

Michael A Still, 35, 464 Tall Cedar Lane, Greencastle, Pa.

Political party: Independent

Incumbent: No

Question 1: "I am concerned with the direction the current board has taken our schools, and feel I can do a better job than some current members. I believe my experience in both education and private sector business will translate well into the role of school board member."

Question 2: "One of the greatest challenges in the future will be to effectively market the area to attract new business and grow current employers to broaden the tax base of the district and decrease the tax burden of individuals property owners. The challenge inside our schools will be to increase the accountability of the student, increase parental involvement in their child's education and trim wasteful expenses."

Question 3: "I am a firm believer that we need to look at many other things in our educational costs before we look at raising taxes or cutting programs. The current board, like some many other districts in Pennsylvania, have faced many of these issues over the past few years but lacked a clear execution of developing a plan to fix, or compensate for these shortcomings before they reach today's tipping point."

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