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Meet your School Board Candidates


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By TYLER MUSE

Along with Bellefonte senior Max Kroell, here are your other six School Board candidates:

 

Dr. Mark Badger

Why are you running for School Board?

I was inspired by the students of BAHS.  While my son, Jack Badger, was a senior last year there were a couple of incidents where, in my opinion, the students were unfairly treated.  As a result I decided if change was going to happen then I would have to try and do something about it, and thought that running for School Board, where I could possibly be an agent for change, would be a good starting point.  Running was not simply as easy as getting petitions signed. I had to get US Citizenship first, which I got in December. So I am committed to this process now, and want to make a positive impact on the lives of the students and teachers in the Bellefonte School District

What do you think you can bring to the School Board that the other candidates cannot?

Bringing something that others cannot is hard to quantify without knowing the full background on the other members of the Board, but I do have experience at the Board level.  I have served on the Board at the Bellefonte Y and am currently a Board of Trustees member at Restek Corporation. I will come to the Board with an open mind. I want openness, parity and inclusivity to be my guiding principles.  And without sounding too cliche I want to run with accountability and integrity.

If you are elected, what changes would you immediately want to see?

Immediate changes are nearly impossible; Boards are not dictatorships.  Furthermore, it is not the Board’s role to run the schools, that is the job of the Administration.  However, it is the Board’s role to make sure that we have the best leadership team running the School District, and if we don’t then changes must be made.  We also have to make sure that the future direction of the School District provides for a safe, inclusive and best educational experience for the students and parents or guardians, and to hire and retain the best teachers and administrators.

Anything else you would like to add.

I know this is going to be a difficult job, but I hope it will be a rewarding one too.  Bellefonte has been our home for nearly 20 years, and our son squeezed as much out of his school experience as he could.  Many people, both teachers and students, have made a positive influence on his life, and now it is time for me to give back a little, and I hope to be a positive influence in the lives for some others.

 

Mrs. Julie Fitzgerald

Why are you running for School Board?

As active citizens, I believe we are all called to serve our community in different ways. I am very passionate about education and I believe serving in this capacity will help me to give back to the community.  I want to ensure that students in the Bellefonte Area School District continue to receive a top-quality education that helps prepare them for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

What do you think you can bring to the School Board that the other candidates cannot?

I am a very open and transparent person. I have the ability to easily build relationships and listen to the concerns of others. I think it is important for School Board members to listen to those they represent and not push an individual agenda that potentially creates inequities within the district.

If you are elected, what changes would you immediately want to see?

There are many challenges and tough choices that lie ahead for our district. I think the board needs to find other ways to engage community members as the decisions made by the board affect all of us in one way or another. I know there have been open forums for community members to express their views on various board related decisions. However, I believe the board could provide greater transparency to demonstrate that the voices of the community have been heard.

Anything else you would like to add.

Public education provides the foundation for this nation.  Our future as a democracy depends on an educated citizenry and the School Board plays an integral role in this process. This is not a role I take lightly and if elected to the position I would work hard to ensure the students of the Bellefonte Area School District are prepared to become our future leaders.

 

Ms. Kim Hearn

Why are you running for School Board?

I feel that I can be a positive asset to the school by giving a perspective of an alumni, a parent, a community member, and an educator by helping to  shape and guide the education for current and future generations of Bellefonte.

What do you think you can bring to the School Board that the other candidates cannot?

All of the current board members and all of those seeking election to the board, bring unique perspectives, individual skills and abilities, and opinions towards the education of our students.  For me personally, I have a child in the system and a child who recently graduated, which allow me to stay grounded with the needs and the concerns of the current student population. I have had the opportunity to be on the governing board at CPI for 3 years which allows me to share my student educational interests on behalf of Bellefonte School District.  I bring a unique perspective since I am employed as a teacher and also a sitting board member. I have the ability to understand the educators side as well as the administration side, and I am able to balance those two views to help reach a positive solution for the betterment of Bellefonte School system. I have found myself to be well-connected to the community and approachable by my constituents and help to resolve any problems, concerns, or opportunities they may have.  Those who know me, know that I am a huge supporter of extra-curricular activities in our district. I can be seen at sporting events, supporting our teams, and have a special passion for the fine arts, being a recovering theatre addict-lol. Both academics and extracurricular activities are important parts in a students education.

If you are elected, what changes would you immediately want to see?

In the next 4 years of my term, if I am elected, I would like to see the completion or a master plan for completion of the entire sports complex including Rogers Stadium, the baseball complex, and  practice fields. I will be voice to our state representatives to implement the changes needed for the reduction of standardized testing and graduation requirements. I will seek out alternative funding sources to help reduce the tax burden our District places on the residences of our community.  I will research, review, and work to implement new literacy innovations for our younger students and their families of our community. I would like to help develop a process where we showcase and recognize our alumni for their accomplishments. Some of our schools may be reaching the end of their life cycle, I will work hard to ensure that all of our students will have facilities that our students, staff, parents, and community can be proud of.

Anything else you would like to add.

I am approachable by our students, staff, parents, and community members. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as a School Board member for Bellefonte School District.   I have a passion for education which has led me to a desire to serve the students, staff, and community of Bellefonte School District. I would be honored if you continue to allow me to be your voice for Bellefonte Area School District.

 

Mr. Rob Pacella

Why are you running for School Board?

I am running for School Board because I want to make a difference for kids, I want to improve the facilities we currently have.

What do you think you can bring to the School Board that the other candidates cannot?

I feel that my background in facilities management in both the K-12 and higher ed world helps provide the board with a view they may not see or understand. I would like to see a lot of things immediately but I know being realistic  it will take a fair amount of time to get things accomplished, doing work in the public sector takes time. The second part to this is working within the confines of ACT 1 so funding any project is a challenge. Bellefonte is made up of many retired folks that have said very clearly they can’t afford big tax increases. I will continue to work at the balance.  

If you are elected, what changes would you immediately want to see?

I would like to be reelected to continue the work the board has started, I think we are on a positive track with a good plan for the future of the facilities.

 

Mr. Robert Lumley-Sapanski

Why are you running for School Board?

I’ve been on the board for 20 years and there are things I am still working on that I want to finish such as the exterior athletic facilities including the track, stadium and other fields. I still am very devoted to public education and want to continue to provide opportunities for Bellefonte students to  help them live successful lives. These are exciting times in education, the old model of classrooms with seats in nice rows needs to change with more creative and collaborative learning opportunities presented… just like in the real world.

What do you think you can bring to the School Board that the other candidates cannot?

We need a board with a variety of backgrounds/skills/interests but since I’ve served so long, I can provide background into things we’ve tried before or that school code etc prevents us from doing. I was also president of the State School Board Association so have a lot of contacts with legislators and other school districts that are a valuable resource to keeping us moving forward

If you are elected, what changes would you immediately want to see?

There is so much bureaucracy and so many State and Federal restrictions on what boards can do “immediately” is a tough one but as chair of the Capital Campaign Committee raising the funds to complete the stadium, that is a huge priority for me and also to create other learning spaces on the property behind the school such as sustainable agriculture programs, outdoor learning spaces, etc. Our elementary schools are in sad need of help and the board needs to decide how to handle them be it renovations or construction of a new elementary school. Finally as stated above, we need to take a serious look at how we educate our students and make the changes that will give them the best jump on life after HS.

Anything else you would like to add.

Thanks for doing this, the School Board needs to have student input on major decisions. I am impressed with all the great stuff you guys are doing from travelling to the Galapagos, etc, to doing well in playoffs, putting on great theatrical productions, all the community services, excelling in AcDec, Model UN, FBLA, FFA  and so much more. I am honored to have a very small part in helping to make this happen.

 

Mrs. Donna Smith

Why are you running for School Board?

I honestly love our community and the kids and teachers in the Bellefonte Area School District! After I decided to retire from teaching, I knew I NEEDED to remain involved – school was my world for so long – but wondered how.   When the opportunity to serve on our Board became available due to an unexpected vacancy, I had my answer. The more urgent spark to get involved probably occurred the evening I attended at a Board meeting and heard a shocking number – TWO MILLION DOLLARS – the amount of money our district pays to send students to charter/cyber charter schools. I believe in the very core of my being that our schools are as good as or better than most and began to wonder, “What can I do to help bring these kids back? What can I do to lend my expertise so that ours is a district one where no one would ever want to leave? ” Above all, I believe in the power of education, the excellence of our staff and students, and in my ability to make a difference.

What do you think you can bring to the School Board that the other candidates cannot?

I love this question.    If anyone were to ask, “Who knows the Bellefonte School District really well?”  I can enthusiastically raise my hand to that one! I am a mom to two Bellefonte kids, now adults, and was involved in their activities like a typical parent. I think they played five sports between the two of them. I have taught more than 3000 students of all abilities, talents, personalities, and temperaments and gotten to know their parents, too.  I worked with a half dozen Superintendents and principals, and experienced school from the time Ronald Reagan was the President ( Boy do I sound really old). When School Boards make decisions, not everyone can say they understand the real impact those decisions have on real kids and real teachers and real administrators like I do. Now I am a grandmother and have a retirement income, giving me yet another perspective.

If you are elected, what changes would you immediately want to see?

I have quickly learned that although the School Board is one single entity, it is made up of nine individuals with no one single individual having any more power or say-so than any other.  Every member has one voice and one vote. What I would like to see over the next four years include completing the plan for a new elementary school, seeing the completion of our new and/or renovated athletic facilities, keeping our schools innovative and forward-looking,  ensuring the physical and emotional safety of ALL our students, and bringing home some of our District students from charter schools.

Anything else you would like to add.

When  you are 18 years old, please vote.  Young voters are a powerful political force.   Please use that voice in every election. And one last thought – be nice to your teachers. They have a hard job and they really are cool people who are trying their best.

The Student News Site of Bellefonte Area High School
Meet your School Board Candidates