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5 seek 4 Frazier School Board seats

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Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Election issues in the Frazier School District revolve around higher test scores and the cost of a new elementary/middle school building.

Three incumbents — Deborah Vargo Alekson, board President Tom Shetterly and David Simmon — and two newcomers — Francy Angelo and Kevin Brown — are vying for the four seats available on the school board in the Nov. 5 election.

All five candidates emphasized the need for improved test scores. Frazier improved this past year, but the candidates see the need for better results.

Vargo Alekson said it is “important to address the need for academic program/instruction/curriculum maintenance and improvements to meet the educational needs of our students in the face of continued funding cuts and the pending pension crisis.”

“I decided to run for Frazier School Board because it came to my attention that there was a huge grassroots movement across the United States against the Common Core Curriculum,” said Angelo. “Under George Bush, No Child Left Behind was implemented to make teachers accountable and improve testing scores. Unfortunately, No Child Left Behind was a huge failure. Now, under Barack Obama, Common Core is being implemented. It is a one size fits all education curriculum where teachers are teaching the test for the government. If the government controls the standards and the test they end up controlling the child and placing a wedge between the school and parent.”

“Frazier has some of the best teachers in the area,” said Brown. “We need to make sure they are provided with all the tools they need to educate the students to their full potential and get the scores at a level that will again put Frazier back on top.”

“I want to concentrate on the most important issue to all of us, student achievement,” said Shetterly. “Over the past several years, student achievement has plateaued or has seen a steady decline in many areas and this should not be the case. Our students have tremendous abilities and our teachers are of the highest caliber. I have a vision for our district where the teachers are supported, the administration is held accountable, and students are reaching their highest potential. If elected, this is where I will put my efforts.”

“I would like to see our scores a lot better on the PSSA tests,” said Simmon. ”Our teachers do an excellent job. I would like to see the liberal arts and fine arts get more attention. When budgets are tight, they are usually the first to go. My goal is the best possible education (our children) can get.”

Angelo was the only candidate to express any displeasure with the construction of the new school.

“I feel it is bad timing,” she said. “Many people do not understand that because our American dollar is being printed that many countries are dropping it as the official exchange currency which is not being reported by the media. This is a problem. The other concern is that we are borrowing $20 million on bonds for the construction. The bond market is not doing well. My concern is that Frazier has not mentioned implementing an alternative budget as a back up against another recession or depression that may occur. It is my opinion that a new school or renovation should have been done years ago when the market was better.”

She suggested the board should look for another source of funding, such as lobbying for an additional 1-percent sales tax to be dedicated to school renovations.

Vargo Alekson said she is committed to “seeing through the new construction project to completion and addressing existing facility needs in order to provide the safest and healthiest learning environment for our students, faculty, and staff.”

“Now that the construction project has been started, the board will have to make important decisions to keep the project on budget and make critical decisions on other issues to keep the negative effect to the taxpayers at a minimum,” said Brown.

“As a board member for the last two years, my focus was to work with community members, district staff and students, and the board of school directors to construct a much-needed new elementary and middle school,” said Shetterly. “Due to changing enrollments and structural issues at the current buildings, the most economical conclusion was to build a new facility. If elected, I would concentrate my efforts on ensuring that the project is completed by the summer of 2015 to the satisfaction of all stakeholders and within the expected budget.”

Simmon is actually hoping the construction goes smooth overall.

“My goal is to put our children into the best possible environment we taxpayers can afford,” he said.

Karl Polacek is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at or 724-626-3538.

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