Greensburg Salem candidates determined to put children first
An incumbent director is battling a former one for a two-year term on the Greensburg Salem school board.
Incumbent Republican Angela DeMarino-Tooch and Democrat Linda Hensel are seeking to replace Nat Pantalone, who resigned this past summer.
The two candidates in the Nov. 5 election were nominated by their respective parties.
“I really enjoy the part about the kids,” said DeMarino-Tooch. “I enjoy being able to work for the kids and trying to make a difference in a child's life.”
She ran for a four-year school board spot in the primary election but failed to get either a Republican or Democrat nomination. DeMarino-Tooch, 47, said she learned from that experience the need to work hard to get re-elected, something she said she is doing this time.
She said she is troubled by the pension debacle that allegedly resulted when ineligible compensation was added to salaries to boost former administrators' retirement checks.
“It's frustrating that when you're looking at cutting programs ... money gets misrepresented, misstated,” DeMarino-Tooch said. “It's not fair.”
If salaries were deliberately inflated, “it's just wrong,” she added.
Directors have said they didn't know the alleged pension spiking had occurred.
DeMarino-Tooch joined the board in December 2009, after directors had agreed to compensate former superintendent Tom Yarabinetz for health insurance coverage in his last contract — a decision being questioned by the state Auditor General.
Hensel, 71, served on the school board in the 1980s during a tumultuous time involving teacher contracts.
Her goal is simple in seeking election, Hensel said.
“I truly believe the children have to come first,” she said. “The big concern must be with their education. I think we're too concerned about everything else and not the kids.
“The education in the district is very good,” added Hensel, who served six years on the school board.
She questioned whether the district should have cut summer school this year to make up for funding shortfalls.
Hensel, who has been attending board meetings over the last few months, said she needs to be on the board to examine other actions of directors.
Of the pension situation, she said, “The state will take care of that. They really will. And they're going to decide, if they had too much in, they'll take if off of them.”
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.