State College Area school board candidate profiles: Dorothea Stahl

Posted by Ed Mahon |emahon@centredaily.com on November 2, 2011 

Dorothea Stahl, 42, first ran for school board in 2000. She was elected, along with four other challengers, in 2007.

Key votes: In June 2009, she voted in favor of ordering the second edition of “Investigations in Number, Data and Space” as the district’s elementary math curriculum. But she also supported piloting other math programs.

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 split votes, Stahl voted in favor of the cuts seven times and against them eight times. Four board members voted for more cuts, three voted for less, and one voted for the same amount.

In June 2011, she voted in favor of a 2011-12 budget that raised real estate taxes by 2.65 percent and also reduced overall expenses by about $2 million.

“I’ve only voted for one budget that included a tax increase.   …. And it was because I didn’t think, when we first got on the board, we were really doing enough evaluation of programs,” Stahl said at an AAUW and StateCollege.com forum.

She’s endorsed by the district’s teachers union.

“I think I have a perspective that serves the district well. I’m a parent. I’m an educator. I’m a homeowner. I’m a taxpayer. My husband’s a small business owner. And I’m a product of an excellent public education. And I think that my children deserve the same excellent public education that I had,” Stahl said at an AAUW and StateCollege.com candidates forum. “I also happen to come from a long line of public educators.”

Current status: Incumbent seeking reelection.

Political party: She’s a registered Democrat who will appear on both the Republican and Democratic ballots.

A decision or issue she thought the district handled well: She pointed to the board’s October 2008 vote to have all new major construction projects be environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

She also said the February 2007 decision to make citizen advisory committee meetings for facilities and finance open to the public proved its worth this spring, when the board was approving budget cuts.

“I think that having all these meetings open to the public, to do that first really benefited us in the long run,” she said. “If we had closed door meetings ... (when) we were going through the financial turmoil, I don’t think the public would have bought into the decisions that we had to make.”

A decision or issue she would have liked the board to have handled differently: “I feel that the first year we were on the board, there was so much scrutiny” on how well old and new board members would get along that, Stahl said, “I feel that we tiptoed around some budget issues that the new board really wanted to address. ...I almost think that was a little bit of a detriment, because I think we were a year behind in making some fundamental changes.”

 

 

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