7 have cross-filed for 5 Riverview seats
Riverview School District has three incumbents and four newcomers battling for five seats on the board.
Those seeking to retain their posts include board President Maureen McClure and members Alex DiClaudio and Tara Jean Schaaf.
Newcomers are Melanie Pallone, Jennifer Chaparro, Brian Hawk and Jane Miller.
All the candidates have cross-filed for the four-year seats.
McClure has served on the board for eight years. She is a national award-winning professor of education management and finance at the University of Pittsburgh.
She has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in secondary education from Allegheny College; an MBA; a master’s of science in educational administration and a doctorate in education finance and policy from the University of Rochester.
McClure said she wants to continue to work for small, safe schools with smart technology and support good teachers with fair wages, among other issues.
“Riverview School District is a small, hidden gem in Allegheny County,” she said. “One of our great strengths has been our size. Preserving both that and school safety are my top priorities.
“Small can also be beautiful in attracting families into and keeping seniors within our district. Our community needs voters willing to support the development of well-rounded students through access to the best teaching and technology.”
DiClaudio, 32, of Oakmont is in the last year of his first term on the board. The 2005 Riverview graduate has a bachelor’s degree in economics and master’s in arts management, both from Carnegie Mellon University. The film, television and theater producer founded his own company, DiClaudio Productions, in 2012.
“I’m running again because I am still as passionate as ever about supporting the Riverview School District, especially as we navigate our short-term budgetary challenges,” DiClaudio said. “I believe that public education is the cornerstone of strong communities, and that it is incumbent upon all of us to work together to try to provide the best possible education to the kids of Oakmont and Verona at the most efficient cost to the taxpayers of Oakmont and Verona. The challenges facing public education are not unique to Riverview, but if we are able to come together as a community we stand a good chance of solving them.”
Schaaf, 42, was appointed to the board in December to fill the seat vacated by John Nehlsen, who resigned from his elected post in November.
She’s been a Verona resident with her husband, Kip, since March 2004 and a member of Verner Elementary’s PTO for years. Schaaf has a nursing degree from Shadyside School of Nursing in 2002, a bachelor’s degree from Waynesburg University in 2009 and master’s in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh in 2014, with a specialty in anesthesia.
“I have only been on the board for a short amount of time but am learning how the school district works and what being a member of the school board really means. And I think the experience I am gaining will help me be an asset in a longer term of office,” Schaaf said. “I’m a Riverview parent and I love our school district. Running for school board is my way of giving back to a community and school I feel strongly about. … I feel I bring a great deal to the table and with more time would be a great asset on the board, as well as a strong voice for our families.
”I understand the importance of education and hard work and know a strong early education is what prepares us for our futures regardless of where we may go.”
Chaparro, of Oakmont hopes to be elected to her first political office. She served on the Tenth Street Elementary PTO for two years. She has bachelor’s in communications and art history from the University of Pittsburgh, and works as a marketing strategy manager for UPMC Health Plan. She also serves as a yoga instructor at Homegrown Yoga in Oakmont.
“I would like to see more current parents on the board because we are most in touch with how decisions being made are affecting our children,” Chaparro said. “I have two children in Tenth Street Elementary and want to continue to see our district thrive in spite of recent challenges.
”In addition to academics, I have a strong interest in protecting the music and art programs and feel that they are an important aspect to a child’s well-rounded education.”
Miller, 53, of Oakmont has a bachelor’s in journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in health education from Penn State University.
She has a background in communications, strategic planning, marketing and health promotion working for a health insurer, and serves a choral director and organist for Natrona Heights Presbyterian Church.
“I am running because I want to ensure that fiscal responsibility is maintained within the Riverview School District,” Miller said. “I know many districts are struggling and fighting for state and federal dollars. We need to make sure we can balance finances while still providing a quality educational environment for our students and teachers.”
Hawk, 45, Oakmont is the area manager for Nicholson Construction of Canonsburg. He grew up in Plum, lived in Delmont and moved to Oakmont six years ago.
It’s his first time running for school board, and he is doing so as part of a promise to his son, an eighth-grader at the junior high school. Hawk also has a daughter in fifth grade and a 2-year-old daughter.
“I was a little upset with some of the things that went on in the district last year,” Hawk said. “We lost our marching band leader last year because they made some budget cuts. I told him, ‘If I have the opportunity, I’ll do something about it.’ I want there to be more transparency and more of an understanding of some of the tough decisions the school board’s faced with. I like our district. I don’t want our district to have financial troubles or low enrollment.”
Pallone, 58, of Oakmont could not be reached for comment.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .