State College Area school board candidate profile: Jim Pawelczyk

Posted by Ed Mahon | on November 2, 2011 

Jim Pawelczyk, 51, supported the challengers during the May 2007 election, and he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board in March 2008 by four Centre County judges.

During a recent AAUW and candidates forum, Pawelczyk said that during the 2007 election, voters were asking for more “transparency and accountability. .... I think this board has taken that to heart.”

Key votes: In June 2009, he voted against ordering the second edition of “Investigations in Number, Data and Space,” arguing that the administration hadn’t presented enough evidence that it was the best elementary math curriculum. The district has since changed programs.

Pawelczyk said a frequent question he asks is: “What’s the evidence that that’s working?”

“And in a number of cases, that has caused us to do things like change an elementary math plan, when we’ve said, gosh, maybe there’s evidence that we need to be looking at this in a different way,” he said at the forum. “We’re going to be asking the same kind soft questions when we look at how effectively technology is in the school district.”

In May 2011, board members voted on budget layoffs. Some votes, such as those to eliminate positions through attrition, were unanimous. But the board split on 16 layoff votes.

Of those 16 votes, Pawelczyk voted in favor of the cuts 13 times and against them three times. No other board member cast more yes votes.

In June 2011, he, McGlaughlin and Bartnik voted against a 2.65 percent tax increase for the 2011-12 budget. 

“If you sit on a school board you’re there for education. That’s the number one reason you’re there,” Pawelczyk said at the AAUW and forum. “That said you also need to recognize that, we can’t exist like we have for the past decade. If we wanted to maintain the status quo with the current state of our economy, take every tax increase of the past decade, in every year, add on an additional five percent, and you might be able to maintain the status quo. So we’re talking about nine percent and up. That’s not going to happen. That’s not living within our means.”

Politically party: He’s a registered Republican who will appear on both the Republican and Democratic ballots.

Current status: Incumbent seeking reelection.

Political party: He's a registered Republican who will appear on both the Republican and Democratic ballots.

A decision or issue he thought the board handled well: “I’d look at basically the idea of establishing the principles and process” for making decisions, Pawelczyk said, adding, “Ultimately we got to the right point in the calendar. And what we did was set by board resolution, a series of principles.”

The board set has principles to guide administrators several times. In October 2007, they said all major construction projects would be environmentally friendly and energy efficient. In August 2010, they voted to set guidelines for a high school construction project. In October 2010, the board voted on a set of guidelines for the often contentious school calendar issue. 

A decision or issue he thought the board should have handled differently: He brought up the guidelines again.

“We probably should have done that a year or two earlier, so we didn’t have every single person in the community being a calendar designer,” Pawelczyk said.



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