Two products of the Bald Eagle Area School District are vying for the chance to help lead it for the next four years.
Incumbent Jeffrey Turner, a Democrat, and challenger Jane Reese, a Republican, seek the Region 2 school director position on the school board. Both are lifelong Bald Eagle Valley residents and Bald Eagle Area High School graduates.
Reese, 55, lives with her husband, Ron, on a Worth Township dairy farm. She said that her job at Penn State inspired her to run and “put my professional development to good use.”
For 20 years, she has worked for the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, which provides a year of academic study and professional development to midcareer education professionals from around the world.
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As part of her duties for 10 years, Reese visited elementary schools and charter schools in the mid-Atlantic region, in the process becoming well-versed in K-12 education and interested in fostering it locally. She said she has a lot of knowledge to bring to the board.
“I’m very proud of my school, of the Bald Eagle Valley, and it’s a good way for me to give back,” she said.
If elected, she said she will make managing the district’s finances one of her priorities.
“The first thing schools want is more money,” Reese said. “Given the issue that there’s not enough money now, people need to try to think of more solutions without needing more money.”
She also has her sights set on encouraging parents to become more involved in their children’s education, teaching the public about the board’s duties and responsibilities, and posting fuller board minutes online for the sake of transparency.
“I’ve taken the time to look at minutes from other school boards from around the county,” she said. “Ours are not very informative.”
A former PTO president with three children who graduated from BEA, she said she knows the district well and plans to “jump in with both feet” starting out. But she also anticipates drawing on her experiences and contacts in education as resources.
“I have a wonderful network I can go to if I have questions outside the board,” she said. “I don’t have all the answers. I’m a good listener.”
Turner, 46, has lived in Huston Township for 23 years. The board president, he works as the manager of the American Foundations plant in Spring Township, directing the production of precast concrete structures.
With three terms under his belt, he’s running largely on his record.
“I haven’t got the most experience on the board, but I’ve been involved in a lot of things,” he said. “I think my experience brings a lot to the table.”
During his time on the board, he said, he has served on several committees, including ones for facilities, contract negotiations, budgets, renovation and construction, and artificial turf research for the football stadium. He helped oversee the expansion of the high school/middle school complex.
In addition, he has been on the board of the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology in Pleasant Gap for 12 years. With the help of CPI students, he designed and built new dugouts for the BEA baseball field, he said.
“I think 12 years says a lot for experience, knowing the ins and outs and the routines of things,” he said. “I think that’s probably my best asset.”
He said he’s ready to take on another term, though he thinks the district isn’t facing major issues at the moment.
“I think watching our finances is key,” he said. “I think Mr. (Dan) Fisher, the former superintendent, did a great job financially. We just need to keep the way it’s been, keep any tax increases that have to happen to a minimum and keep us financially sound.”
Turner and his wife, Amy, have four children, two of whom are still district students.
“I think you need to have some people on the board who have some connections with the schools,” Turner said. “I think it gives me, sometimes, more insight into what’s going on in the schools.”