State College Area school board candidate profiles: Amber Concepcion

Posted on November 2, 2011 

This is the second part of our series looking at each of the eight candidates for State College Area school board. There are five open seats, and the election is Tuesday.

Amber Concepcion, 32, graduated from State College Area High School in the 1990s, and she’s now the mother of three children all under the age of 8.

“I really think it’s important to have a number of parents on the school board. And I think that’s  ... one of the reasons I was initially interested in running for school board. It had nothing to do with politics per se, but just because of being a parent of children in the district and wanting to have more of a voice for parents of young children,” she said.

She said it’s also important to have “people who are passionate about education, are interested in education, have done their research, and … understand the policy planning process, and who are able to get a handle on how decisions that are made at the board level actually affect the classroom and the students.”

She, Dorothea Stahl and Laurel Zydney are endorsed by the district’s teachers union. 

“The rise in health insurance costs and retirement contributions are seriously constraining our ability to balance the budget and we may need to look at ways to increase employee contributions to health plans, subject to contract negotiations,” Concepcion said at an AAUW and StateCollege.com forum last month. “But we do need to realize that when teachers accept a pay freeze and then when we also ask them to increase their contributions to their health care plans, that this does constitute a real cut in their compensation. So there’s a limit to how much we can ask them to contribute.”

In May, she spoke out against a motion to reduce the Latin language program — a motion that ended up failing by a 4-5 vote. She also spoke against a motion to lay off the development specialist. That motion passed on a 5-4 vote.

Current status: Challenger seeking a spot on the board.

Political party: She’s a registered Democrat and will appear on the Democratic ballot. She cross-filed in the May primary.

A decision or issue she thought the board handled well: Concepcion pointed to the budget discussions this spring, when the board raised taxes by about 2.65  percent, cut total expenses by $2.1 million, and laid off about 20 employees.

“The way that that went on, I think that there was a lot of opportunity for community input,” she said. “And I was really happy with how accessible the board seemed to be, that people were being heard, that they had a lot of time for public comment.”

A decision or issue she thought the board should have handled differently: Concepion pointed to the district’s elimination of the development specialist position.

“I was disappointed with the decision to eliminate the development position,” she said. “I think that development is going to be really important going forward, and ... that’s something that I would make a priority ... renewing our commitment to development and fundraising, because I think in the future, that the school district is not going to be able to rely entirely property taxes to maintain its programs.”

Updated at 1 p.m Thursday, Nov. 3: In the profile of Dave Cannon, we mentioned that all the candidates except Lydia Glick cross-filed in the May primary. One of the candidates has asked to note that in all the stories. So we have.

 

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