Politics & Government

School board races


School director, Region 1

One seat

Shirley A. Dudish

Party: Crossfiled on Republican and Democratic ballots

Did not respond

School director, Region 2

Two seats

Keith E. Reese

Party: crossfiled on Republican and Democratic ballots

Did not respond

School director, Region 3 Two seats

S. Thomas Letterman

Party: crossfiled on Republican and Democratic ballots

Did not respond

Richard Watters

Party: Republican

Did not respond


School director

Five seats

Richard W. Steele

Party: Republican

Address: Bellefonte Borough

Birthdate: Nov. 6, 1940

Occupation: retired, Uni-Mart manager for 20 years

Education: graduate of Scotland School, Scotland, Pa.

Qualifications: Keep the school within the budget without the increase in tax. Look at students driving to school and parking.

George F. Stone

Party: crossfiled on Republican and Democratic ballots

Did not respond

Tammy Myers

Party: crossfiled on Republican and Democratic ballots

Did not respond

Robert Lumley-Sapanski

Party: crossfiled on Republican and Democratic ballots

Address: Benner Township

Birthdate: April 27, 1952

Occupation: Facilities and safety coordinator, Food Science Department, Penn State

Education: B.S., College of Agriculture, Penn State

Qualifications: currently in eighth year of service on the board, fourth year as president, volunteered in many programs that serve youth including Boy Scouts, 4H, Little League, AYSO soccer, basketball, softball, Benner Township Fall Festival, Sunday school.


School director

Four seats

Martha R. Weidensaul

Party: Crossfiled on the Republican and Democratic ballot

Address: Potter Township

Birthdate: July 6, 1943

Occupation: Co-owner, Tannenbaum Farms

Education: B.S., nursing, Duke University

Qualifications: conviction that young people and their education indeed represent the future of our community. School board and leadership experience. Fiscal responsibility.

Sal Nicosia

Party: cross-filed on Republican and Democratic ballots

Did not respond

Larry Bair

Party: Democratic

Address: Did not specify

Occupation: architect/project manager, Penn State

Education: Bachelors, architecture

Qualifications: parent of four Penns Valley students, taxpayer, belief that the public school system is an essential component of a solid free society. Educational opportunities need to be offered to all and the innate potential must be developed in the individual.

School director, Region 1

One seat — No candidate


School director, District 1

One seat — No candidate

School director, district 2

One seat

Thad E. Ritter

Party: Republican

Did not respond

School director, district 4

One seat — No candidate


School director

Five seats

Question asked: What are the top issues facing the State College Area School Board today and how would you, as a board member, address them?

Susan Werner

Party: crossfiled on Democratic and Republican ballots

Address: Ferguson Township

Birthdate: Dec. 23, 1949

Occupation: homemaker

Education: B.S., McGill University, major in math

Qualifications: Before running for school board in 1995, I spent 15 years volunteering in our schools and serving on many district committees. I was president of the Radio Park PTO, the High School PTO and PTO Council. I started the parent volunteer lunch program at Radio Park and have volunteered in their library for the past 25 years. I served on the district’s middle school committee, strategic planning committees, safety committee, calendar committee, and the Post High School Planning Committee. I am now completing my 12th year on the board and have served as board president for the past six years. I am the school board representative to the PIAA District 6 Committee and am the PIAA D6 Swimming and Diving chairperson. I am the board liaison to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for Facilities and serve on the Non-resident Student Committee. I am also involved with many organizations in the community. I am past president of the Science Park Recreation Association (SPRA); am a volunteer assistant swim coach with Penn State Aquatics; am a certified swim official for age group, high school and college swimming and diving; am a volunteer for the AAUW book sale, and have done fundraising for Schlow Library and the American Cancer Society.

Answer to question: I believe in providing quality education at an affordable price. As a school board member, financial considerations have always been an extremely important part of my decision-making process. The educational structure of our school district must remain strong. To prepare our students to compete in a global economy, we must offer a strong, diverse curriculum. We must set high expectations for all students, regardless of academic standing, and help them to succeed. The ever-changing technological environment requires regular re-evaluation. Our Career and Technology Center must prepare students to graduate with employable skills and we must continue to attract and retain quality administrators and faculty to keep our district strong. The quality of life for our students is also paramount. We are taking steps to better secure our buildings and keep our children safe. Additional space is needed for expanding athletic and extra-curricular programs and our nationally recognized special-education program must be supported. Finally, the school district’s infrastructure must be addressed. We must maintain aging buildings while we update the facilities’ master plan to prepare for the decades ahead. I will use my understanding of these issues and experience on the board to achieve acceptable solutions for our community.

Barney Grimes

Party: crossfiled on the Republican and Democratic ballots

Address: Patton Township

Birthdate: Aug. 11, 1951

Occupation: project manager, Penn State

Education: B.S., geophysics, B.A., military history, M.S., international politics, post-graduate master’s in aeronautical/industrial engineering.

Qualifications: 30-year public servant, Marine Corps veteran, concerned parent, life-long educator, teacher, coach, mentor, leader; lived and experienced education systems in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Oregon, Texas, Pennsylvania California; government-certified program manager; 15 years’ involvement with Boy Scouts of America.

Answer to question: From my perspective and from what I’ve been following in the local, state, national and international press and educational forums, there are two major issues I feel need to be addressed. First is capturing all of the needs for curriculum, infrastructure tools and facilities to make our school district competitive in the information age and the future our children face; and secondly, do so in a fiscally responsible manner that serves all of the student population and not just the special-interest groups. A clear understanding of all the mandates and requirements projected over time with quantified and qualified costs is essential. This needs to be done across K-12, then prioritized by need short, medium and long-term. From those needs, costs and priorities, we then need to develop integrated and coherent plans to implement solutions. Solutions need to be publicly vetted to ensure their buy in. We need to also ensure we’ve assigned and are assessed on our performance in meeting those needs. I know there are a great many more issues but none with the same strategic import of the two listed above. Without strategic vision we'll be applying Band-Aids on all the issues.

Elizabeth Dutton

Party: crossfiled on Democratic and Republican ballots

Address: Harris Township

Birthdate: Sept. 9, 1938

Occupation: homemaker

Education: B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison; M. Ed., Penn State

Qualifications: State College Area School District, member, Board of School Directors, 1991–present; Strategic Planning Leadership Team 1995, 2001, 2007; Career Technical Center, General Advisory Committee, current; Citizens’ Advisory Committee for Safety, current; Post High School Planning Committee, 1986–present; Citizens’ Advisory Committee for Demographics, 1988; Citizens’ Advisory Committee Middle School Study, 1989. PTA 1969-1990; Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Regional or Assistant Regional Director, 1993– present; Central Intermediate Unit, member, Board of Directors, 1991–present, president, 1999–present; Professional Education Council, 1993–present; Centre Region Communities That Care, board member; Phi Delta Kappa education fraternity, 1992–present; Centre County Genealogical Society, corresponding secretary, 1990–present.

Answer to question: The SCASD Board of Directors must:u Enhance an excellent curriculum to meet the needs of each student and prepare graduates for the challenges ahead. u Find an optimum balance between the cost of educational quality and the tax burden borne by the community.u Ensure that all resources — financial, physical, and human — are used effectively and responsibly.u Recognize that advances in technology may be valuable provided the benefits justify the cost.u Attract and retain superior teachers and effective administrators; provide resources for professional development.u Provide a safe, secure, nurturing environment for learning; plan for the renovation of the elementary schools, athletic facilities, and other buildings.u Prepare students for mandated assessments; monitor each student’s progress.u Broaden community understanding and participation in fulfilling the SCASD mission to prepare students for lifelong success. I will continue to devote the time necessary to examine thoroughly all issues before the board — including the recommendations of the administration, faculty and staff — and to make further inquiry as required. The teachers who interact with the students and the professionals who oversee the district’s operations are well qualified to evaluate and determine appropriate courses of action within board guidelines.

Janet E. McCracken

Party: crossfiled on Republican and Democratic ballots

Address: Patton Township

Occupation: psychologist

Education: B.A., psychology, Wooster College, Wooster, Ohio, 1987; M.A. and Ph.D., counseling psychology, Ohio State University, 1995

Qualifications: I have served almost four years as a school board member, am a mother of three children in the school district, serve as the legislative liaison for the board, volunteer in the classrooms and work as a psychologist.

Answer to question: The excellence that has been established in the State College Area School District is at stake in this election. As a member of the board, I am committed to maintaining and enhancing our district’s tradition of outstanding academic and extracurricular programs. Our children’s education and the quality of life in the State College area are vitally important and must be entrusted to experienced candidates with broad interests. As a board member, I have had to make decisions about numerous issues, ranging from school calendars to tax reform, student safety to teacher salaries, federal legislation to flooding, and charter schools to one-on-one computing. Along the way I have become a quasi-expert in public policy, building design, soil content and construction estimates. I have listened to and carefully considered the perspectives of a broad spectrum of residents in the district. I have learned that being a board member requires tremendous dedication, as well as the ability to make tough decisions. These are decisions, like the high school project, with which not all community members will be pleased but which, ultimately, will prove to be most beneficial to the widest number of people in our district.

Dorothea W. Stahl

Party: crossfiled on Republican and Democratic ballots

Address: Harris Township

Birthdate: Dec. 30, 1968

Occupation: assistant teacher at the State College Friends School

Education: bachelors, elementary education, Salisbury University.

Qualifications: I am a product of an excellent public-school education and I expect my three kids to have the same opportunities I had. I also come from a long line of dedicated public educators and I value my own experience in the classroom. Not only am I a certified teacher, but I have served as a PTA officer for the last four years at my neighborhood elementary school. The needs of our elementary schools have taken second place over the years, and my concern is that they will continue to be overlooked. We have aging facilities in growing neighborhoods that are now requiring the use of trailers to accommodate the student population. We have expenditures in our budget that haven’t been addressed in years and lead to annual tax increases without proper explanation. I hope to continue the excellence of the district while drawing the line at unnecessary tax increases. Many school districts in this state maintain high education standards without annual tax increases. The current high school renovation plan is just one example of this school board wasting tax dollars and resources and not putting the education environment first. I plan to bring a voice of reason to a school board that currently is viewed as unreasonable.

Answer to question: The aging facilities are a main concern for our district. It is not just the high school that is in need of updating. School construction costs money but it is money well spent if it is spent wisely. Somehow this board approved the plan for Grays Woods without recognizing the growth in that area and now that school is already at capacity. That means many of the students in neighborhoods it was built to serve are actually being bussed past the school to go to Park Forest where there is room for them. What will happen when Toftrees expands its housing and those students need to be served by Park Forest Elementary? I would seek to have more communication or maybe a liaison between developers and the district so we don’t repeat what happened at Grays Woods as Pine Grove Mills and Toftrees grow. I also feel the board needs to address the growing concerns of homeowners and retirees who have seen their school tax go up every year in recent memory. That is not how all school districts operate and yet it is the norm in the State College Area School District. We moved here from a school district, Susquehanna Township, in which our school tax didn’t go up once in the five years we were there. I don’t think this board even makes that a priority.

Ann M. McGlaughlin

Party: crossfiled on Democratic and Republican ballots

Address: Harris Township

Birthdate: March 8, 1963

Occupation: accountant, office manager for local small business

Education: Villanova University, 1985, B.S. accountancy; Huntingdon Area High School, 1981

Qualifications: In order to successfully fulfill its duties, the school board must have individual and professional diversity within its membership. My background, education and experience would bring valuable perspectives to our school board of directors for the next four years. As the mother of school-aged children, I would bring a parental perspective that is underserved on our current board. My firsthand experience with the social and scholastic challenges facing students today will enable me to knowledgeably advocate for a thorough and individually responsive education for all students. As a professional, I would bring an appreciation for the teachers’ need for a supportive work environment and for sufficient resources to fulfill their role as educators and to receive opportunities for continuing professional growth. As an experienced accountant, I would bring the education, experience and discipline necessary to conduct and evaluate strategic planning and policy-making, monitor the district’s financial health and provide common sense stewardship of taxpayers’ resources. Finally, as an engaged and civically active citizen, I would bring an unwavering commitment to transparency in the board’s proceedings and decision-making.

Answer to question: The high school project is undoubtedly the most pressing issue before the school board today. I support community members’ call to halt the project while the decision is re-evaluated in a due diligent manner. To accomplish the forgoing, the district facilities master plan must be reworked to ensure that it not only supports a strategic plan for educational and extracurricular needs, but also prioritizes renovations in a manner that taxpayers can afford. Into this solid basis, planning for the security of our school facilities, updated demographics projections and long-range fiscal needs must be incorporated. The environment in which Pennsylvania school boards operate is evolving, with clear movement toward taxpayer empowerment in school district affairs. To form and maintain a successful relationship with a participative electorate, boards will need the trust and confidence of their communities. Actions taken by our local board in recent years have undermined its relationship with constituents and shaken the public’s trust. I would seek to overhaul the culture of our board so that public confidence is restored and a mutually beneficial partnership cultivated. The above challenges require disciplined leadership, openness to public input and a commitment to fiscal responsibility. Vote for new voices on May 15.

Chris W. Small

Party: crossfiled on the Republican and Democratic ballots

Address: State College Borough

Birthdate: Dec. 15, 1958

Occupation: assistant director for business services, Facilities Department, Bucknell University

Education: B.S., business logistics, Penn State, 1980

Qualifications: I am running for school board because I care about the quality of education for all of our students in this district. I am committed to this community and to public service and public education. I am a 1976 State High graduate who returned home to State College in 2004 after 24 years as a business manager in the Navy. Like many in this community, I am disturbed by the disharmony that exists over the high school project and I am prepared to work with the community to build consensus and move this community forward together. As the father of two high school students, the spouse of a teacher, and as one who attended my first school board meeting in 2004 and has attended nearly every school board meeting in the last year and a half, I am committed to strengthening our outstanding school district. I pledge to devote my energy and talents to serving the community and addressing all of the issues that come before the board during my four-year term.

Answer to question: The completion of the District Wide Master Plan for Facilities has educational and fiscal implications for this community. In addition to the $100 million high school project, another $55+ million is budgeted for renovations of the elementary schools and other buildings. The unjustifiable expense of the high school project puts at risk the ability to fund the more necessary elementary school renovations and support educational priorities. While we must allocate resources to ensure that our facilities are safe, capable of supporting our curriculum, extracurricular activities and technology requirements, we must keep in mind that these resources are then not available to hire the best teachers and provide for their professional development. Nor are they available to maintain our curriculum, improve teacher mentoring and student tutoring programs, expand student activities or respond to emerging opportunities and challenges. We must remember that a building never taught a student. Additionally, we must repair the fractured civic partnership between the school board and many in this community. As we struggle with unfunded mandates, a 9.4 percent projected tax increase in 2013, and the ACT 1 budget referendum requirement, the community’s support for the board and the district is more critical than ever. Rick Madore

Party: crossfiled on Republican and Democratic ballots

Address: College Township

Birthdate: March 7, 1958

Occupation: dentist, private practice general dentistry, 21 years

Education: State College Area School District, graduated 1976; B.S., Juniata College, 1980; DDS, Temple University, 1985. In addition to being a State High grad, I have been a lifelong member of our community. My wife, Patty (State High ’76), parents and children are or will be State High grads. We are dedicated to the best education we can receive for our children and expect the same for all the children of our community. I love this town and expect us to become united once more behind our schools. I listen. I serve. I look forward to a great educational future for our children, grandchildren and generations beyond.

Answer to question: The single biggest issue facing the incumbent board is their lack of respect for the good people of our community. While stakeholders have spoken, this board has consistently ignored their sentiments. This arrogance has directly led to the current predicament of the planned high school facility and the tag along small schools initiative. As a board member I will immediately halt the current high school renovation plan. With new voices and fresh perspective I believe we can change the current culture that has been divisive. In today’s society there are more and more things attempting to polarize us. This must stop. We should not pit one self interest against another. I believe there is a place for me to be a “uniter,” someone who will value all the stakeholders. Certainly the students must come first, but also the teachers, the staff, parents, alumni, and all the supporting citizens of our community. We must seek “win-win” situations where our kids can develop academically, artistically, socially, athletically, musically and civically. We must promote excellence and receive excellent value for our tax dollars. I see this current breakdown as an opportunity to build our community by focusing on one of our greatest assets — our kids and their education. Robert M. Hendrickson

Party: crossfiled on the Republican and Democratic ballots

Address: State College

Birthdate: Jan. 3, 1944

Occupation: professor of education and associate dean of graduate programs, research and faculty development, College of Education, Penn State

Education: B.S., North Dakota State University; M.Ed., Indiana University; Ed.D. Indiana University

Qualifications: Hendrickson has served on the school board for six years and is the associate dean for research and graduate programs in the Penn State College of Education. Hendrickson, his wife, Linda, and two sons moved to State College from Charlottesville, Va. in 1984. They relocated not only for the faculty position at Penn State but also to escape a poor quality public school system in Virginia. Linda Hendrickson recently retired after teaching first and second grades for 18 years at Easterly Parkway School. Robert Hendrickson, a founder and first president of Centre Soccer, coached in the Parks and Recreation program and CS traveling teams. He also served as president of the State College Youth Ice Hockey Association and was actively involved in scouting. Both of his sons graduated from State High, hold college degrees and have successful careers due in part to the quality education they received from the State College Area School District. The Hendricksons have two grandchildren who reside in State College and will receive their education in this district. Robert Hendrickson said he is committed to maintaining the high quality of education offered in the State College schools.

Answer to question: Taxation is a top issue confronting the school board. The public will be faced with a referendum question that reduces property tax by substituting an earned-income tax (EIT). While this is an attempt at tax reform, it is simply taking less money from one of your pockets while increasing the money coming out of another pocket. I will promote collaboration between school districts and county government to achieve tax reform at the local and state level. We must ensure a high-quality education through the continuation of an outstanding curriculum and the maintenance of our highly skilled teaching faculty. Alongside that, we must educate the public on the importance of quality education to continue our district’s competitive position in a global economy. We must continue our leadership in the state by implementing the next six-year strategic planning process. Public involvement in that process continues to be critical to the development of our next district strategic plans. Safety and security of our children in school and in the community are important issues. Not only does this involve making our schools secure places but it also involves teaching our children how to be safe and take necessary precautions in the community.