4 run under 'SOS'banner in Keystone Oaks

Matthew Santoni
| Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Four new candidates for the Keystone Oaks School Board hope to solidify a fractured coalition's majority on the board.

Members of the “Save Our Schools” group were elected to the board in 2011 on a platform of reversing the district's plan to close and consolidate elementary schools, but once that task was accomplished, other issues, like budgeting, split up their narrow board majority.

Now, four candidates have filed to run under the “SOS” banner to shore up the coalition's presence on the board by taking seats from incumbents seeking re-election.

The district includes Castle Shannon, Dormont and Green Tree, with three school board members elected from each community.

The SOS candidates are Annie Shaw and Donald Howard of Castle Shannon, challenging incumbents Marian Randazzo and Lisa Cancelliere; Neely Crowell of Dormont, running unopposed for the seat currently held by Thomas Nee; and Matthew Cesario, who is seeking to unseat former board president Gary Alward in Green Tree.

The board built its majority in the 2011 elections with the election of four SOS candidates and recruiting sitting board member Raeann Lindsay. With the elections and the support of then-president Alward on the school closing issue, the SOS coalition had six votes to overturn the previous board's decision to close the schools in Castle Shannon and Green Tree.

But once the group settled in, divisions formed. Lindsey and Lisa Cancelliere broke with the bloc over several issues, particularly about approving using cash reserves to balance the 2012-13 budget and keeping the firm of Ira Weiss as the district's solicitor. Meanwhile, Alward removed three of the coalition members from chairing board subcommittees. Cancelliere, who voted against making SOS member Dan Domalik president of the board — handing the reins instead to Randazzo — has since been dropped from the coalition's website.

“None of us agree on everything, and not one's saying that everyone has to vote the same way, but there are core values I expect we'd all share,” said board member Dave Hommrich, a member of SOS.

Cancelliere said she made her decisions based on what she thought was best for the students and taxpayers, not what the rest of the coalition wanted.

“They're a little (angry) with me,” she said. “But I'm going to do what's best for every student in the building, and (the coalition) knew that from the beginning.”

Randazzo and Alward could not be reached for comment.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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