Voters in the Gateway School District who go to the polls Nov. 5 will choose one of two candidates to fill a two-year term that was vacated in July.
Cheryl Boise, a Republican, and Paul Caliari, a Democrat, are vying for the votes. The special election is a result of former board member Jesse Kalkstein’s resignation in July. His replacement, Dawn Neilly, is not seeking election.
There are three incumbents on the ballot — Mary Beth Cirucci, John Ritter and Valerie Warning — and two newcomers — Susan Delaney and Scott Gallagher. They are all running unopposed. When elected, they will serve four-year, unpaid terms in office.
Following is information submitted by the contested candidates as well as their response to questions posed by the Trib.
Question 1: What are the two biggest challenges facing the Gateway School District and what ideas or policies will you offer, support or promote to address them?
Question 2: How has your background and experience equipped you to make decisions affecting the operation of the district and the education students receive?
Political experience: None
Question 1: The constitutional responsibility of school districts like Gateway is to educate the children effectively. I want to make sure we continue to give appropriate support to curriculum and programs that are developmentally appropriate while continually supporting special education, vocational education, graduations requirements, and the list is lengthy. I am not setting one or two priorities. Our school district’s reputation counts on all of these varying things. Everything matters when it comes to our students. We are also responsible to the taxpayers of Monroeville and Pitcairn that we look at all aspects of spending their money, and set short and long term priorities. Having recently attended the district’s building and grounds meeting, it is clear we have to look at our buildings and plan realistically for the future. For me to list policies/priorities now is totally inappropriate. I am a data driven person, and there are many things I need to see and evaluate before I make judgments. There is information I have not been privileged to as a regular taxpayer and citizen. Data like student population today, and any future projections, which can play in to some of these decisions. I have a list of questions I need answered by administration before I make judgments, or suggest actual policies or objectives. I do not believe in knee jerk reactions, or making promises before I have facts.
Question 2: I worked in the nonprofit field, which is very similar to being on a school board. I worked with a board of directors. We worked collectively to establish priorities and objectives, which is what school boards should be doing. There are nine people on a school board, and it takes at least five board members to vote in favor of varying decisions. This should be team work, and continual open conversations and discussions. We need all kinds of data from the administration, so we can make informed and thorough decisions. That was what I had to do for the educational nonprofit given I was doing educational research, providing information and training to school board members, parents, taxpayers, legislators, teachers. administrators and other educational advocates. In the nonprofit field, we receive grants to do our work. When receiving a grant or donations we promised to do specific things, and to use those funds for very specific reasons. We had to show annually how and what we spent the money on, because we were financially responsible for each cent spent from rent, electric bills to personnel salaries. School boards are also responsible for providing educational opportunities for the children while focusing on tax dollars. I worked with children prior to working for the nonprofit, so I have a diverse knowledge of most aspects of education and children. I know something about the bid market related to school projects, as well. I worked with the public for many years, and as a school board member I will work with anyone in the communities of Pitcairn and Monroeville, as well as within the district for the benefit of our students and communities.
Home: Haymaker Road
Occupation: General manager of facilities and engineering, Sisters of Mercy
Political experience: One four-year term, Monroeville council
Question 1: Sustainability: School districts across the nation face lessening federal assistance and a growing need for specialized education i.e. English as a second language. We need to start coming up with “outside of the box” ideas to generate revenue, increase enrollment and provide our students with an exceptional education. The Land Bank is a good start, but we need to make sure the Land Bank is providing a long-term return. We also need to investigate partnering with entities outside of the school. For example, does the Monroeville library provide services the school can benefit from such as subscriptions for academic materials, or tutoring?
Question 2: I currently have two children attending Gateway with a younger daughter who will be in Gateway very soon. My professional experience has taught me how to manage large budgets, as well as facilities and infrastructure. My experience on Monroeville council has taught me how to navigate through the intricacies of federal and state policies and procedures. I have a bachelor’s degree and believe a strong education is important for our children. Possibly the most important experience I have is helping one daughter in junior high, and one daughter in middle school complete their nightly homework.