Voters Guide | Bellefonte Area school board

November 2, 2013 

BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS

BELLEFONTE AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT

Question: Schools never seem to have enough funding. As a board member in the Bellefonte Area School District, what would you do to address this continuing issue?

Two-year term

(Vote for one.)

REPUBLICAN/DEMOCRAT

Jenna Moorehead, Bellefonte

Did not respond.

Four-year term

(Vote for not more than four.)

REPUBLICAN/DEMOCRAT

Rodney E. Musser, Bellefonte

Date of birth: Nov. 28, 1951

Education: Bellefonte graduate, 1969; Michigan State University, B.S. 1974

Occupation: Self-employed, agriculture

Qualifications: I have previously been a board member serving for 11½ years. I know the role of a board member is primarily but not limited to reviewing policies, passing the budget, hiring and firing of staff, negotiating contracts and evaluating the superintendent.

Answer to question: Over the past four years, property owners in the Bellefonte area have seen the highest tax increases allowed by law. Sufficient funding is not the issue but rather wise use of “other people’s money.” For instance, during the lowest point in this recession, the board raised property taxes by the maximum while also requesting a salary freeze from the district’s employees. Following the employees’ concession, the board cavalierly purchased 105 acres of land at the pre-recession price of $5 million. While employees of the district acted responsibly, our board showed a lack of common sense and leadership.

Michael B. Danneker, Bellefonte

Did not respond.

REPUBLICAN

Charles Chip T. Aikens III, Bellefonte

Did not respond.

Keith B. Hamilton, Bellefonte

Date of birth: Oct. 26, 1952

Education: Attended Elizabethtown College, Millersville University, Penn State York Campus, 1975 management development, Purdue University entomology two-year course, 1989. I am licensed with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture as a commercial applicator since 1988.

Occupation: I am the district manager for J.C. Ehrlich Co. Inc. since 1988. I manage our multimillion dollar business for the third-largest pest control company in America. I am responsible for the day-to-day operation of both our Lewistown and State College offices.

Qualifications: Serving on the Bellefonte Area School Board since 2008. I have been an area businessman for over 35 years. Serve on the Pennsylvania Pest Management Association Board, Governor’s Pesticide Advisory Board, the board for the Bellefonte Education Foundation, and a member of CBICC and Bellefonte Chamber.

Answer to question: Our funding sources have pretty much flat-lined, and the amount of support money asked of this small community can be onerous. While trying to increase state and federal support, we must pay attention to costs. Working with principals and other school officials, we will try to keep costs contained without sacrificing educational quality.

DEMOCRAT

Becky Rock, Bellefonte

Did not respond.

Jeff Steiner, Pleasant Gap

Date of birth: Feb. 12, 1966

Education: B.A., Indiana University of Pennsylvania, M.Ed., Penn State

Occupation: Nonprofit manager

Qualifications: Elected in November of 2009. Currently board vice president. Co-chairman Land and Property Development Committee. Chaired 2012 committee that revised district Athletic Fields Evaluation Study. Member of the Trust and Benefit Committee. PSBA voting delegate 2010, 2011, 2012.

Answer to question: We can advocate for increases but in reality have little ability to impact funding. The key is managing our budget arc. Lead administrators have been vigilant and focused on the long-term view. Principals and department heads have made tough decisions at the building and department levels. All district employees have stepped up and helped to control our budget arc. The community understands how important this is and does its part. It takes a collective effort, and it is vital that a school director recognizes the contributions that everyone makes to ensure our children are receiving the education they need.

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