3 candidates vie for 2 Fox Chapel Area School Board seats
By Tawnya Panizzi
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The only contested race for Fox Chapel Area School Board pits a newcomer against two incumbents in a bid for two Region 3 seats.
Democrat Nancy Snider will compete against Chip Burke and Joel Weinstein, who both cross-filed.
Incumbents Sherman Snyder and Robert Mauro are unopposed in races for Regions 1 and 2.
The election is Nov. 5.
Snider is a 40-year resident of O'Hara who touts her career in education as a plus.
Retired after four decades in teaching from Central Catholic High School, Snider said she is “very aware of everything that goes on in a district.”
“When you go into a school, it's not about politics,” said Snider, whose two children attended classes in the Fox Chapel Area School District. “Education should be for everyone, and I want to make sure all students get the opportunity they deserve.”
Snider said she is acutely aware of costs and curriculum struggles. Even prior to teaching, Snider said, she lobbied for 25 percent of the state budget to be directed to schools, she said.
“I have experience negotiating contracts and navigating student needs,” said Snider, adding that her priority is to make sure each child has access to technology and a good education, no matter what their background.
“Students might be very bright but not have access to equipment,” she said. “I have experience with working with superintendents, staff and finances. I understand money matters and what is necessary on both sides.”
Weinstein, with 17 years board experience, also said his priority is to maximize potential for all students. He said the board continually works to link students with the appropriate help to ensure success.
It's something he hopes to continue, said Weinstein, whose two daughters came through the district.
The retired executive also wants to help guide the district through the potential finance obstacles of pension payouts.
“What's happening is that you have to pay off pensions from the budget, and they're cumulative,” he said. “No school district can support the pension fund unless the people in Harrisburg change the policy.”
The school board does not regulate how pensions are paid. The board has money currently set aside for payments but it will become an issue, Weinstein said.
“We're in good shape up to now, but that only lasts a couple years. You're going to see a lot of schools not being able to make their budget, and when you start to make cuts, you cut services to students who need it the most,” he said.
Burke said he is running for a third term in the hope of continuing what he thinks is excellent work by the school board.
“From what I hear from parents, most people are very satisfied with what the board is doing,” he said. “We want to maximize the potential of each child. That means improving academic achievement while at the same time doing a superb job at keeping tax rates among the lowest in Allegheny County.”
Burke is a lifelong resident of the district and said he's proud of the progress it has made in academic standings. The Business Times, he said, ranked the school as No. 6 in Allegheny County, up from 15 last year.
At the same time, Dorseyville Middle School was named a “School to Watch” by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform.
Burke said he also is excited to usher in the district's capital campaign that will see improvements to all six buildings over the next three years.
“We're guiding the district through difficult financial times while continuing to improve the buildings,” he said.
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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