School Board Candidates: Building Projects, Curriculum Remain Top Election Issues

Board applauds curriculum, while challengers call for more transparency.

Candidates in the race for  said building projects and district curriculum will be on voters' minds when they take to the polls in Tuesday's municipal election. 

Current school board members Rosemarie Varsanick, Lisa Wolowicz, James Donohue, board president Mark Scappe and first-time candidate Danny Barefoot are vying in the election against the self-described  "Citizens for Education" ticket, composed of Laura Schisler, Gia Tatone, Samuel J. Tranter, Dennis Harbaugh, Ron Steele and Mike Olszewski.

Candidates talk district building projects

Scappe said building projects in the district, including the recently constructed and , prompted him to seek another term on the board. 

“I want to see these projects completed,” Scappe said. “When I start something, I want to see it get finished.” 

Varsanik said the new buildings are an important element in the district’s changing curriculum.

“The buildings are the outward example of what we’ve done as a board,” she said. “It surrounds the education that is happening and it changes attitudes.”

Members of the Citizens for Education ticket say if elected they’ll work to contain change order costs on various campus projects, which they said have been excessive.

“We need to look at those change orders more closely,” said Tranter, adding that he believes current board members have been too lenient in approving additional costs to district building projects.

“We are not in a position as a community to see more spending,” Tatone said. “I feel we have a challenge financially on how to address what still needs done and to sustain what has already been started.” 

Harbaugh said the board failed to hold contractors responsible for errors made in the projects.

"To me it seems absurd that the board ends up paying for those change orders," Harbaugh said. "I don't know whether they don't read them or what. But I don't think it should fall on the board to take responsibility for mistakes on the part of the contractor or architect."

Board members applaud Moon curriculum

Republican nominees said more needs to be done to ensure  for students is age-appropriate, but Varsanik lauded the district’s curriculum selection.

“It’s a big world out there,” Varsanik said. “For me as a board member, we’re adding new curriculum and I’d like to see that continue. We’re offering Mandarin Chinese now. We need to expand things like that.” 

“We have one of the strongest school districts in the area,” Scappe said. “Being a part of that process and adding new curriculum [is one of the things I’m most proud of].” 

Republican ticket says board needs to be more transparent

Members of the Citizens for Education ticket have said that they’ll work to make the district more transparent. 

The ticket said one of the first actions it would take if elected would be to publish the district’s new contract with the Moon Area Education Association.

The district and its teachers union reached a  in June after a yearlong contract impasse, but the district and union have not made public the document.

Republican nominees said if elected they also planned to hold fewer executive sessions to discuss district matters. 

“It’s about what it means to hold an open deliberation,” Schisler said. “I believe our community has not been made aware of what’s truly going on. There many instances when this board has operated behind closed doors and it should not have.”

Varsanik said current board members have maintained a positive rapport with one another.

“As a voter, I would go in and remember what the board was like four years ago, eight years ago,” she said “The infighting, the games that were played, the lack of respect.”

Donohue said the district’s recent agreement with its teachers union was among his proudest accomplishments as a board member.

“I think voters should focus on the work that the current board has done, including settling three [personnel] contracts,” he said. 

RealMoonResident November 08, 2011 at 02:54 AM
I remember when the Republican ticket was going to have "more transparency" in 2005. Apparently that means more closed-door meetings. We ended up with over $10 million in project cancellation costs on the high school and a still half - used elementary school. No thanks. Scappe and company are far from perfect, but I believe that they understand what it takes to run a school district.
Tea November 09, 2011 at 03:39 AM
Apparently, the voters who bothered to show up at the polls today feel otherwise.


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