by Erik Murphy, web site editor
Unbeknownst to many of the students in the PENNCREST School District, a hotly contested election among school board candidates is taking place today and could result in huge implications for students, faculty, and taxpayers alike.
Nine candidates are currently running for six positions on the school board. Mark Gerow, Gerry Deane, Timothy Brown, and Travis Porter are seeking reelection while Bob Johnston, Jeffrey Brooks, Staci Porter, Terrance Deane, and Robert Gullick are seeking their first term on the board.
Timothy Brown is a Crawford County native and is married to Saegertown Elementary teacher Mrs. Brown. He seeks to update the curriculum and manage the budget while acknowledging that “micromanaging every penny of the budget is almost impossible.” Bob Johnston served eight years on the board of the now closed French Creek Valley School Board. Despite its closure, he claims that they were able to work through the issues at the time.
Travis Porter is a Saegertown graduate and local business owner. His children attend Cambridge Springs. He intends to make changes in regards to the declining enrollment and spend more time breaking down the budget. His wife, Staci Porter is also seeking a position on the board. She has an accounting degree and is employed at two tax offices in Meadville. Notably, she said that she seeks to run the school board “like a business,” at the candidate forum on Oct. 25 at Saegertown, but she later said, “Kids are not dollar signs.”
Gerry Deane, current vice president of the school board, spent 38 years in Education and is concerned with the the lack of teamwork in the board and student preparation for the global economy. Her husband, Terrance Deane, worked in the district since 1983. He is well-known in the community as Saegertown’s former junior high basketball coach. Deane seeks to gain a better grasp on the concept if elected and will try to lower expenses if at all possible.
Robert Gullick spent 25 years in retail and 17 years as an elementary teacher until he retired last year. Gullick shares similar viewpoints with Mr. Deane and said that the board should discuss what fellow boards are doing right and follow in their footsteps. He related this concept to compromising among board members. Mark Gerow graduated from Cambridge Springs and, like Mrs. Porter, possesses a degree in accounting. He discussed what things used to be like in the district in regards to community boards, clubs, boosters, etc.
Navy veteran Jeffrey Brooks spent time as a student teacher and a social worker. He became more involved in the school board and parent committee after proposed cuts to school libraries were made. At the candidate forum, Brooks suggested that a functioning board will attract good superintendents.
Many have vocalized concerns involving incremental, year on year tax increases. Increases of $50-$60 per year have become commonplace in nearby school districts such as General McLane. Such increases have been cited as the way of the future for PENNCREST, for better or for worse. Moreover, some have criticized spending in PENNCREST. At the October 12 school board meeting, citizen Art Hoffman said the school board lacks a system of “checks and balances” and “is not a dictatorship.”
All nine candidates stated that they are opposed to consolidation of two or all three schools into a singular facility. However, Mr. Porter and Mr. Gerow discussed the fact that it may come to that if something isn’t done.
Regardless of who is elected, the new board could certainly bring about a huge change in direction for the future of the district.
Election results will be posted on Twitter @PantherPressSHS.