Four spots up for grabs in Freeport Area school board race

Liz Hayes
| Saturday, May 18, 2013, 1:41 a.m.

Frugal spending, securing schools and boosting education are catchphrases used by candidates seeking election to Freeport Area School Board.

Five people, including three incumbents and a former school director, are running for four available board seats in Tuesday's primary election.

All five candidates are running on both the Democratic and Republican tickets.

If the same four candidates win both parties' nominations, they are likely to succeed in the Nov. 5 general election.

Or, they could all face each other again.

The incumbents, all from Buffalo Township, include current board President Daniel Lucovich; South Butler County Spanish teacher Christine Davies; and podiatrist Dr. John A. Marty.

The challengers are Charlie Greco, a Buffalo Township resident who is self-employed in the structural steel industry; and South Buffalo resident William B. Gaiser, a retired school bus driver and former one-term board member.

The only candidate from Armstrong County, Gaiser said being involved in the district comes naturally to him, because both of his parents worked for Freeport Area. He unsuccessfully tried to regain his seat in 2011 after he lost his re-election bid in 2009.

“I think we've got to look out for the children and keep the taxes down,” he said. “My priorities would be child safety, trying to keep taxes down, keep the curriculum standards up. I would say utilize some of our teachers as tutors to help people who are deficient in certain things.”

Gaiser said he would like to see better-maintained buildings: “We've got to keep our costs down a little bit. We just can't be handing out money the way we are.”

“Academics is always the forefront. I'd like to help improve that,” Greco said. “My children transferred from Evangel Heights Christian Academy. I always thought (Freeport Area) was great from an academic perspective.”

Controlling spending and school safety also will be on his to-do list.

“Being that I'm new to the board, I'll look to see what's in place and what improvements might be made,” Greco said.

“We have a lot of things we started, with building the new middle school along with trying to get a security and safety policy together that's taking a lot of time,” said Lucovich, president of Creekside Mushrooms in Worthington. “You start these projects and it's easy to walk away from them. It's a lot harder to finish them.

“I want to continue the priorities of providing the kids the best education,” he said. “There's a cost to it. We run a fine line with the amount of teachers and programs we have, and I hope we can continue to do that. It's challenging times for all of us. It doesn't matter where you're at, a school district or in business.”

Davies said her experience as a teacher has improved her decision-making as a board member and vice versa: “I'm encouraged and I have been enlightened by what our school board members have taught me.”

Davies said when she first ran for office four years ago, she wanted to improve communication among the board, teachers, students and community.

“I believe we've achieved that. I believe that's very important because all of the school issues, from the curriculum to the building project, impact the students and taxpayers.”

She believes the district is managing the taxpayers' money well.

“This is a very frugal district. This is not a district that overspends,” Davies said. “We have the lowest salary scale for teachers around.

“Even the new junior high school was a frugal decision,” she said. “Rather than building a new high school, we replaced just what we needed.”

Marty did not respond to multiple phone and email messages.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680

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