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10 candidates vie for 4 open Norwin School Board seats

Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Ten candidates are running in the May 21 primary to seek party nominations to run for four seats on the Norwin School Board. The top voter-getters will advance to the general election in November.

The candidates include:

Brandon Ames

Age: 33

Party: Democrat/Republican

Political experience: None

Education: Bachelor's degree in business administration and management from California University of Pennsylvania

Why he's running: The Norwin School District needs to continue adapting to an evolving education environment by continuing to embrace science, technology, engineering and mathematics-based curriculum, Ames said.

“We need to keep it on the forefront and move forward with developing the curriculum and developing co-curricular activities,” Ames said. “Norwin is moving in that direction, and we need to educate the public, teachers, faculty and staff about its importance.”

Gary Brozek

Age: 55

Party: Democrat/Republican

Political experience: None

Education: Master's degree in business management from Gannon University in Erie

Why he's running: Despite state funding reductions, Brozek, said the district needs to work within its financial means to avoid putting a heavier tax burden on Norwin taxpayers.

“The district needs to make sure we work within our budget,” Brozek said. “We need to find a level of funding that not only supports our educational programs but also make sure it's a tax base the community can afford to pay.”

Robert Eagleson

Age: 47

Party: Democrat/Republican

Political experience: None

Education: Attended Prince George's Community College, near Washington, D.C., Westmoreland County Community College and received a teaching certificate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Why he's running: Eagleson, a teacher at Steel Center Area Vocational Technical School in Clairton, said he wants to see the district's curriculum become more challenging.

“We need to make sure we help students succeed, and a more challenging curriculum will help them achieve higher and get into better colleges,” Eagleson said. “We already have the tools; we just need to know which tools to use them.”

Becky Gediminskas

Age: 56

Party: Democrat/Republican

Political experience: 12 years on the Norwin School Board

Education: Bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in nursing practices from Carlow University

Why she's running: Norwin officials must continue working to use the district's funding effectively and make some potential cuts without sacrificing educational quality, Gediminskas said.

“The board has to have some savvy if there needs to be cuts,” Gediminskas said. “We may have to cut to the bone in some areas, but we're not going to make cuts that influence the quality of education.”

Al Lynn

Age: 63

Party: Democrat/Republican

Political experience: None

Education: Graduate of Norwin High School, bachelor's degree in education from Clarion University, master's degree in education and elementary school principal certificate from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh

Why he's running: Norwin administrators and school board members need to continue serving as advocates for restoring any reduced funding from the state, Lynn said.

“These cuts have been passed down to us, and I think it's a matter of staying in close contact with our legislators and putting pressure on them,” Lynn said. “Whatever happens, students' education has to be put first.”

Del P. Nolfi Jr.

Age: 50

Party: Democrat/Republican

Political experience: Four years as a Norwin School Board member

Education: Bachelor's degree in polymer science and engineering from Penn State University

Why he's running: Despite a reduction in state funding, Nolfi said, the district needs to continue trimming its budget, without jeopardizing educational programming.

“We need to keep moving forward despite these financial constraints,” Nolfi said. “It's going to take a lot of work and accountability to trim the fat and further our programming, but it can be accomplished.”

Jerry O'Donnell.

Age: 41

Party: Democrat/Republican

Political experience: Four years as a Norwin School Board member

Education: Bachelor's degree in mathematics and master's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Pittsburgh

Why he's running: O'Donnell said he hopes to see the financial burden on local taxpayers lightened through increased state funding. Currently, more than half of the district's funding comes from local resources, he said.

“One of the board's roles is to serve as a liaison between the district and state Legislatures, and I'd like to work closely with them,” O'Donnell said. “We need to try to get more state revenues brought into the district.”

Donald Rhodes

Age: 57

Party: Democrat/Republican

Political experience: Eight years as a Norwin School Board member

Education: Bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Maryland and a certificate of accounting from the University of Pittsburgh

Why he's running: Norwin School District faced approximately $4 million in state funding cuts over the last several years, with little relief in sight, Rhodes said. Despite the cuts, the district has added an enhanced STEM-based education program and additional special-education classrooms and has not furloughed teachers, he said.

“One of the biggest challenges is being able to maintain and improve our student's educations, while maintaining fiscal responsibility,” Rhodes said. “We need to focus on improving, and not letting our programming slip, despite state funding.”

John J. Russo

Age: 60

Party: Democrat/Republican

Political experience: None

Education: Bachelor's degree in mathematics and a master of business administration from Duquesne University

Why he's running: Russo said he hopes to work with Norwin administrators to help find alternative streams of revenue, instead of relying on tax increases to patch any holes in the budget.

“We have to look at ways to increase business in the area, and the district's STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) project could help get us there,” Russo said. “With this program, we would be creating a larger pool of employees and employment opportunities in the district with our students, whether it's after they graduate high school or college.”

Barbara Viola

Age: 56

Party: Democrat/Republican

Political experience: Four years as a Norwin School Board member

Education: Bachelor's degree in English and a master's degrees in language communications and library science from the University of Pittsburgh

Why she's running: Viola said it's important for officials to remain fiscally responsible, especially with state education funding cuts. “Funding has been cut from the state over the last three years, and we need to make sure the cuts do not affect educational programming,” Viola said. “As this trend continues, the goal is to keep Norwin producing excellent educational programming, and continue asking for funding increases form the state.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

 

 

 
 


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