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Newcomer seeks Region III QV school board seat

Bobby Cherry
| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Two of Quaker Valley school board's three regions offer uncontested races in the Nov. 5 general election.

But a race for one seat in Region III pits newcomer Robb Bunde of Edgeworth against Glen Osborne resident Marianne Wagner, who lost a bid for re-election in 2009 after serving on the board for 12 years.

Region III comprises Aleppo, Edgeworth, Glenfield, Haysville, Glen Osborne, Sewickley Heights and Sewickley Hills.

Bunde said he is running “to make sure that Quaker Valley remains an excellent school district.”

“I want to make sure that our children have every opportunity to have success for their futures,” he said.

“I also want to make sure there is fiscal responsibility that is balanced with those goals.”

Wagner said her main reasons for running are finance and budget.

“Where is the money going, and why?” Wagner said, adding that it is “important because of the high real-estate taxes in the [Quaker Valley] area and the fact that the district is funded almost entirely by real-estate taxes.”

“Cyber school funding is part of our budget and has a bizarre method of taking tax dollars from school districts with no accountability to the people who are ‘forced' to pay them — a classic case of taxation without representation,” she said. We need to get that changed in Harrisburg.”

Wagner said the district should look to cut, instead of increasing, the budget.

“While the state pension plan has huge problems, I feel the school district should live like the rest of us. When taxpayers lose jobs — take pay cuts, have reduced hours, etc. — they have to make many difficult spending decisions. I would like to see school districts who are using our tax dollars operate the same way.”

One issue facing school board members is the continued problem surrounding drop-offs at the high school in Leetsdale. School board members in 2012 voted to spend $400,000 on two Leetsdale homes to consider creating a parking lot and drop-off zone. A third home adjacent to the school would be needed for that plan.

Bunde said he did not have enough information to offer an opinion on the purchase of the homes.

“I do know that the decision has proven to be very divisive in the community,” he said. “I also believe there is a lot of information and misinformation floating around about the decision.”

Wagner said she disagreed with the board's decision to purchase the homes.

“When they were purchased, it seemed like putting the cart before the horse,” she said. “Without the key property next to the high school, no plan could be implemented in the near future. Also, the drawing for parking and student drop-off seemed congested and parents would still be on Beaver Street.

“I can see parents not wanting to go into what appears to be a ‘tight' area and then have to wait until traffic is clear to get out. Parents already have a designated drop-off area behind the school.”

After the purchase of the two homes, former school board President Jack Norris said Quaker Valley officials could use eminent domain to acquire the third property.

“Eminent domain is a nasty concept, especially as it relates to the overall good that will come of it,” Wagner said. “I do not think that a parking lot is a good enough reason to take a property using eminent domain.”

Bunde said he couldn't say whether he would support the use of eminent domain “without knowing all of the facts, options and issues surrounding the decision.”

Wagner said she would consider a pull-off lane to be a “less-expensive alternative” than purchasing property to place a parking lot and drop-off zone.

“But, regardless, the parents would still be on Beaver Street going in and out of the [pull-off lane], just like the more expensive option of tearing down three houses and building a parking lot/drop off area.”

Bunde said he has not reviewed the findings of a traffic safety study that was conducted by the district and made public within the last year.

“I do have anecdotal evidence of the issues relating to the drop-offs as I have three children who are in, or have been in, the district,” he said. “It would be presumptuous of me to recommend a solution without reviewing the information which was before the board on the issue.”

Both candidates said the district provides a strong education to prepare students for their careers.

In addition, Wagner highlighted the district's successes with Parkway West Career and Technology Center.

Bunde said he believes “very strongly that education is important in today's society.

“I also believe very strongly that we owe it to our children to give them the best education possible so that they can be successful. I would like to be on the school board so that I can have a part in Quaker Valley School District continuing to be one of the very best public school systems.”

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408

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