Four incumbents, 3 challengers vie for Gateway School Board |
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Dillon Carr

Four Gateway School Board incumbents will run for re-election while three new faces have thrown their hats in the ring.

The new candidates include Janette Beighel, Susan Delaney and the Rev. Scott Gallagher. The incumbents are Mary Beth Cirucci, George Lapcevich, John Ritter and Valerie Warning.

Each candidate has cross filed.

Jack Bova, who was appointed by the board to fill the seat of former Gateway Director Steve O’Donnell, will not run for election. Instead, he is running for a spot on Pitcairn Borough’s council. His term with Gateway expires at the end of 2019.

Beighel, 40, said she is running because she is a Gateway parent and taxpayer who wants to be involved in the district’s decision making.

“I’m invested in the community and the education of our students,” she said. “And the district is moving in a direction I like, so I want to continue to keep it moving in a positive direction.”

Beighel, who worked in health care before being a stay-at-home mom, would like to work on making the school district more diverse and improving test scores.

She also serves on Monroeville’s Human Resources Board. She and husband, Jason, have three children who are all students at Gateway.

Beighel is currently in her last semester of nursing school at Bloomfield’s West Penn Hospital School of Nursing.

Delaney, 68, said if elected, she would focus on implementing policies and practices to bridge the achievement gap between white and black students.

“Gateway is well-diversified. There’s a difference between equity and diversification,” she said. Delaney was an educator for more than 40 years before retiring, having worked in Chicago and Pittsburgh public schools. She now works as a Gateway substitute.

“I would want to have more teacher workshops and programs that address cultural differences and particularly addressing the needs of black students,” she said.

Delaney is the widow of the late William C. Delaney. She has two sons who are graduates of Gateway High School.

Gallagher, 46, said that, as a pastor in the area, he has something different to offer.

“I have a connection to the community that can be a voice for the people,” he said.

He said service on the school board really is all about the kids.

“I want to establish specific goals that are measurable, while making sure the students get the best education possible,” Gallagher said. For example, the district has made great strides in closing the achievement gap between white and black students, he said.

“But we can further find where we want to be in one or two years. And at one point, we want the gap to be eliminated. And we need to get feedback from the students,” he said.

Gallagher has served for 20 years as a pastor at Garden City United Methodist. Prior to his clerical work, he served in the U.S. Navy, worked in construction and as a auto mechanic. He holds degrees in philosophy and history from California University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in divinity and doctorate in ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary.

He lives in Monroeville with his wife, Sharon, and has four daughters and three grandchildren.

Cirucci, 48, is seeking a second four-year term because she feels like she’s just getting started on the work she and others started.

“I want to continue to move Gateway along on the path of academic excellence and I want to follow through on some projects that we have begun, like building improvements and consolidation,” she said.

Cirucci, who now serves as the board’s president, said she’s most proud of her involvement in creating the district’s police force.

Cirucci currently works for the state House of Representatives in the office of Rep. Bob Brooks (R-Murrysville). Before that, she worked in sales and customer service for various Fortune 500 companies and joined her husband, who died in 2013, in operating two small businesses.

A 1988 Gateway High School graduate, Cirucci holds a degree in general art and science from Penn State University.

She lives in Monroeville with her two sons and a foster son who attend Gateway High School.

Ritter, 64, said he enjoys serving Gateway staff, parents and the students of Monroeville and Pitcairn. If elected, he would begin his second term.

He is proud of the board and his involvement with hiring the district’s current leadership team, which is made up of Superintendent Bill Short and assistant superintendents Guy Rossi and Dennis Chakey. He is also proud of the collective effort of governing the district’s finances well and beefing up the district’s security.

He holds degrees in health education and computer science from Slippery Rock and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a master’s degree in computer science application from Virginia Tech.

He works as a consultant for health technology and lives in Monroeville with his wife, Ann. Together they raised a daughter, who is a Gateway High School graduate.

Warning, 62, is seeking another four-year term because she enjoys being a liaison between the board, administration and teachers in order to learn about student needs.

After working for the district as a paraprofessional in the special education department for 15 years, she specifically has a heart for children with special needs.

“I want to look into making sure that my compassion is truly with the special education kids,” Warning said.

She is proud of her involvement in updating technology in the classrooms and buildings, boosting not only academic achievement but also security.

Warning, a 1974 graduate of Turtle Creek Area High School, holds a degree in secretarial science from CCAC Boyce. She lives in Monroeville with her husband, Doug. Together they have three children.

Lapcevich said he will continue to work for transparency, honesty, integrity and common sense if re-elected.

“I have worked for four years bringing those about,” he said in an email. “I pledge to continue to be committed to improving quality of education, safety and closing the equity gap.”

He said he will continue to have a close working rapport with the administration, teachers, parents and students and to be outspoken against drugs and bullying. Within his term, he has served on the board’s safety, building and grounds, athletic and negotiations committees.

“I also promise to vote ‘no’ against a tax increase and to keep a workable and manageable budget,” Lapcevich said.

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