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9 candidates seeking primary endorsements to run for North Hills School Board seats | TribLIVE.com
North Hills

9 candidates seeking primary endorsements to run for North Hills School Board seats

Tony LaRussa
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Tom Kelly
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Phil Little
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Joe Muha
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Lou Nudi
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Deanna Philpott
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Rachel Rennebeck
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Dee Spade
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Ed Wielgus

Voters living in the North Hills School District will be asked to nominate five candidates in the May 21 primary to run for four seats in the fall general election.

Eight of the nine seeking party nominations have cross-filed as Democrats and Republican. Rachel Renneback, who is seeking elected office for the first time, is only running on the Democratic ticket.

The five candidates from each party who receive the most votes in the primary will square off in the Nov. 5 general election.

School board members serve four-year, unpaid terms.

Following is information submitted by the eight candidates as well as their response to the question:

Why are you seeking elected office and what do you hope your major accomplishment will be at the end of your term if elected?

Tom Kelly

Home: Dombey Drive

Age: Not provided

Occupation: Retired

Previous elected office: North Hills School Board member

North Hills is a “great” school system. Students are succeeding, our taxes are low and we are well managed.

I am seeking this office to make certain we continue our upward success; that we continue to review and monitor our progress and how we can improve, and when change seems apparent, we discuss what our options are, involve stakeholders and make changes when and if necessary.

In four years, I would hope to have: Kept spending and taxes in check, improved the education of all students and prepared students to contribute to society.

Phil Little

Home: Lindley Lane

Age: 34

Occupation: Specialist, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General

Previous elected office: No

Effective leaders spend less time talking and more time listening. I will listen to the community of North Hills and let their voice be heard in the school district.

As a father of two boys, I take school safety seriously. I’ll use my experience speaking around Pennsylvania about cyber safety and the opioid crisis to educate our community on how best to keep our kids safe.

At the end, I hope we look back and remember our board moved North Hills School District forward while honoring the traditions that brought us here today.

Joe Muha

Home: Dombey Drive

Age: 59

Occupation: Metallurgical engineer

Previous elected office: North Hills School Board, 2013-17

I think one of the challenges that school districts face today is preparing students to live and work in a 21st century world, while maintaining a reasonable budget. At the end of my four year term, my hope is that we can say North Hills students are better prepared to be successful in whatever their chosen endeavor is and that they are not afraid to aim high. And then when they are my age, I hope they can look back and be proud of their North Hills education.

Lou Nudi

Home: Maple Drive

Age: Not provided

Occupation: Semi-retired manufacturers’ agent

Previous elected office? : Three terms as school director

When I took office, the North Hills School District’s Return on Investment – money spent compared to student academic performance – had fallen to the state average. We now have one of the highest ROIs in the state, well above average, and I want to help that trend continue.

I want to continue working with the State Legislature to remove the district’s burden of required tuition payments to poor-performing, for-profit cyber-schools even though NHSD operates its own high-performing cyber school, which would save taxpayers $1 million per year.

I want to continue helping NHSD responsibly balance the financial demands of fast-growing enrollment which often outpaces revenue growth.

Deanna Philpott

Home: Chapel Drive

Age: 36

Occupation: School wellness consultant

Previous elected office: No

I am excited to bring both my professional expertise and my parent perspective to our school board. As a School Wellness Consultant, I work with school districts every day to help them prioritize community involvement and physical, mental, and environmental health. As a graduate, parent, and active member of our district, I know where we shine in those areas but also where we need to improve. Using my expertise, vision, and passion, I hope that parents and community members will begin to feel that their voice matters and that our district leadership is making decisions with them, not for them.

Katie Poniatowski

Did not respond

Rachel Rennebeck

Home: Pearl Street

Age: 43

Occupation: Marketing and PR

Previous elected office: No

I have three children who will be in a different North Hills school next year. I have embraced and appreciated the education and discipline my children have received and want to be part of the system as a mother and contributor. It is vital to ensure that a parent prospective is acknowledged and understood since parents are living the school life along with their children. The policies and practices in place must be understood and respected to gain a true understanding of school board operations. My biggest accomplishment would be to have North Hills recognized even more in a positive light for its educational efforts as well as its music and arts resources.

Helen “Dee” Spade

Home: Wanker Avenue

Age: 72

Occupation: Small business owner

Previous elected office: Current school board member

I am seeking a second term as a North Hills school director for the following reasons: To advance student acheivement at a reasonable cost; prepare our students for career readiness, including the trades and college; include parents in decision making regarding their children; support staff awith opportunities for advanced skills; assure the highest standards of district safety; contribute my extensive skills as a labor negotiator; assure the maintenance of our buildings.

If I am re-elected, I hope that my greates accomplishement will have been to leave our district a better place for our children and taxpayers.

Ed Wilegus

Home: Richmond Circle

Age: Not provided

Occupation: Banker

Previous elected office: Current board president

As a school board member I believe in holding administrators and teachers accountable to produce excellent academic results, eing a watchdog over your money — keeping taxes low — that fund our schools, making sure students with special needs are being educated to their maximum potential and providing a safe and friendly environment in our schools to protect our students and employees and where all students are treated with respect and dignity.

A high performing school district produces a vibrant community which protects our property values and provides our students with a solid educational experience that prepares them for the future.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | North Hills
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