Finances a concern for North Hills school board candidates
The biggest issue facing the North Hills School District is maintaining academic offerings while state funding declines and employee pension contribution costs increase, several school board candidates in the Nov. 5 election said.
“It's about our students' education. It's about responsibility,” said board member Sharon A. Schrim, who is running for re-election on the Democratic ticket.
Six other candidates are running for one of four seats, which have four-year terms: Democrats Kathy Reid, an incumbent, and Helen D. Spade; Republicans Matthew Sean Edlinger Sr., Joe Muha and Michael Yeomans; and Annette Giovengo Nolish, who is running on the Republican and Democratic tickets.
North Hills has six schools and 4,244 students from Ross or West View. Changes during the past decade have included a 13 percent decline in enrollment, the closings of three elementary schools and renovations and expansions of three others for $51 million in 2009 and 2010.
The district had a net loss of $660,000 in state funding in 2013-14, mostly because of a 37 percent increase in contributions to the Public School Employees' Retirement System, spokeswoman Amanda Hartle said.
Rising pension costs, competition from charter schools and unfunded state and federal mandates create a difficult climate for public schools, Nolish said.
“So I feel that a lot of the experience and background that I have could make a difference in schools,” said Nolish, a higher education consultant.
Reid, who is completing her first term, said she is proud to have been a member of the board during the renovation projects.
The middle school will be the last of the district's schools to be air-conditioned, and the $7 million project will be paid for without a tax increase, she said.
“We have watched our money wisely and we have been setting aside money for that air-conditioning,” Reid said.
Schrim pointed to the building projects as successes.
“I just want to continue what we have been doing. We have renovated. We have reconsolidated the schools. Our technology upgrades throughout the district are … just tremendous,” she said.
Yeomans, two of whose four children are North Hills students, said the board needs more members who are parents of children in the district.
“I just think North Hills is a very good district, and I've just been involved in public service throughout my life through coaching and my church,” he said. “My decision to run is just an extension of that desire to give back to my community.”
Muha said having a child enrolled in a district school and his analytical background would be assets to the board, which he said needs to better monitor spending.
“We need to eliminate some of the waste. Make sure we spend money wisely. Make sure when we do something, we're getting our bang for our buck,” he said.
Edlinger said he also is a proponent of fiscal responsibility.
“It's not only to keep up with school districts, but how to get ahead within budget,” he said.
Spade said she is concerned about cuts to the number of buses and increased class sizes.
“While recognizing that such changes may be necessary in difficult economic times,” she said in a statement, “they should not be imposed while at the same time increasing the salaries of central office administrators.”
Hartle said bus numbers were reduced when ninth-graders moved to the high school last year, raises have been in line with the 2.3 percent dictated in an agreement, and class sizes average fewer than 22 students at the elementary level and 28 in secondary classrooms.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Revamp of old restaurant on tap in Franklin Park
- Alumni organize Edgewood reunion
- ‘Deer-proofing’ consultant coming to Mt. Lebanon
- Allegheny County sports complex at Montour Junction hits delays
- Cabbage contest engages Western Pa. 3rd-graders in gardening
- Neville Island cleanup effort needs volunteers