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8 candidates vying for 4 seats on Gateway School Board

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Four seats are up for election this year on the Gateway School Board, and eight residents are running. All are cross-filed as Republicans and Democrats for the May 21 primary.

Bill Bailey

Age: 77

Political experience: 12 consecutive years on Gateway School Board, 14 years total on school board

Job: Adjunct professor of mathematics at the Community College of Allegheny County, Boyce Campus, and former electrical engineer for the North American Rockwell space division

Education: Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles; four master's degrees from West Coast University in computer science, marketing, financial management and production systems

Community involvement: Decorated combat veteran for the Army, member of Garden City United Methodist for about 30 years

Family: Wife, Judith; three children, Bill, David and Michelle

Bailey said that his experience as a former rocket scientist and current math professor at the Community College of Allegheny County's Boyce Campus is valuable to the school board, at a time when high school students in the U.S. are falling behind in math and science.

He said students spend too much of their day communicating with electronic devices and relying on technology to solve mathematical problems.

“I'm not a politician; I'm an educator and an engineer,” Bailey said. “My job is to help people understand mathematics and science.”

Stephanie Byrne

Age: 28

Political experience: Volunteer for various campaigns, member of the Monroeville Democratic Committee

Job: Formerly worked in the legal industry

Education: Bachelor's degree in political science

Community involvement: Member of the Ramsey Elementary PTO, a contributing member of the League of Women Voters

Family: Husband, Joseph; and two children, Dominic and Grace

As a parent of a child in the Gateway School District, Byrne said, she hopes to see excellent academics, up-to-date technology and a respectable code of conduct be some of the major talking points for the board while maintaining the diverse student body.

“I can help preserve our Gateway population and draw more people into the district,” she said.

George Lapcevich

Age: 63

Political experience: None

Job: Retired from the Gateway School District and from self-run food and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning businesses; former union representative and negotiator

Education: Trafford High School graduate, certified HVAC technician

Community involvement: Member of the Scottish Rite and Shriners; volunteer with the American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Family: Wife, Nancy; two children; and four grandchildren

Lapcevich said he is hoping for a transparent school board with the students as the main focus. As a resident of Monroeville for 30 years, Lapcevich said, he thinks this is his time to give back.

“I can't think of a better way than to give my time and commitment to our school district,” he said.

Neal Nola

Age: 49

Political experience: None

Job: Enterprise business data architect for Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh

Education: McKeesport Area High School graduate and bachelor's degree in computer science and accounting from Bethany College; also an MBA in finance and marketing from the University of Pittsburgh

Community involvement: Has served as president and vice president of Monroeville Soccer Club; youth coach in Monroeville for soccer, baseball and basketball; member in the Monroeville United Methodist Church; past president and current board member of the Monroeville Baseball Association

Family: Wife, Lisa; and three children

Neal Nola said his main areas of focus as a school board member would be fiscal responsibility, academic excellence, integrity and pride.

Nola said his decision to run was affirmed when he read a recent Facebook post authored by his daughter, which read, “I'm sure he will make a positive difference with both the school and community with his passionate, friendly and outgoing personality.”

Steve O'Donnell

Age: 67

Political experience: President of school board; 2008 Democratic nominee for U.S. Congress, 18th Congressional District

Job: Business owner

Education: Bachelor's degree in education from Duquesne University, master's degree from West Virginia University

Community involvement: Board member of the Gateway Foundation, former president of the Westmoreland American Red Cross

Family: Wife, Carol; two children, Megan and Ryan

O'Donnell, an incumbent, said he is running “to continue to advance the quality of education throughout the Gateway schools.”

After a series of vision meetings, O'Donnell said, he will focus on the improvement of technology, smaller kindergarten classes, bus activity and improvements to certain buildings for safety.

Chad Stubenbort

Age: 23

Political experience: 2011 Gateway School Board candidate

Job: Financial representative with Northwestern Mutual

Education: Gateway High School graduate, bachelor's degree in business administration from Duquesne University

Community involvement: Vice president, firefighter and emergency medical technician for Monroeville Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1.

Family: Single

Stubenbort said he would focus on two things as a school board member: academic excellence that is not focused on teaching to standardized tests and operating the school district within a budget.

“I would like to be part of the solution to once again make Gateway School District one of the highest-ranking academic schools in the state,” he said.

Joe Wightkin

Age: 49

Political experience: Gateway board member from 2007 to 2011, former chairman of the budget and finance committee, former chairman of the technology committee

Job: Director of facilities for Upper St. Clair School District

Education: Engineering degree from the University of Notre Dame, MBA from Carnegie Mellon University

Community involvement: Volunteer for the American Red Cross

Family: Wife, Sally; and two children

Wightkin said he wants the changes and advances in the world to be reflected in the Gateway School District.

“The world of 2013 has changed, and our students will enter a world demanding creativity, comfort with technology and the ability to adapt and change,” he said. “We need to provide these skills.”

Scott Williams

Age: 48

Political experience: 12th year as school board member, more than 10 years experience as chairman of Gateway athletic committee and policy committee

Job: On disability.

Education: Bachelor's degree in criminal justice at Edinboro University and a Gateway High School graduate

Community involvement: President of Pitcairn baseball and softball

Family: Single

Incumbent Scott Williams said he wants to continue to re-establish Gateway as the premier school district in the eastern suburbs. He said curriculum, technology and the budget are a few areas that are most important to address.

“I, along with my other school board colleagues, need to guide Gateway through the storm while maintaining quality education, athletics, and arts.”

Kyle Lawson and Matt DeFusco are staff writers for Trib Total Media.

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