Skip to content

Local election guide: PENNCREST School Board

By Haiku Peters, features editor

The following includes responses to questions sent out to the candidates of the 2021 PENNCREST School Board election. The polls will be open May 18 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Registered voters may select four of the six candidates, and the top-four winners from each party will advance to the general election in November. 

All six candidates have cross-filed as both Democrat and Republican. Since our current governor is a Democrat, the candidates have been listed here as they are to appear on the Democrat ballot.

The candidates will appear on the Republican ballot as follows: Vogt, Johnston, Kope, Gulick, Lynch, Croll.

Theresa Jean Croll 

Date of birth: March 16, 1975

Place of residence: Meadville, Pa. Woodcock Township

Current occupation: Regional HR Director

Education history: I graduated from Calvary Baptist Christian Academy in Meadville in 1993. I then went to college at Northland International University. I majored in English Education and minored in Speech Communication. I thought that I wanted to teach high school; however, after I graduated and taught in a substitute capacity for awhile, I determined that teaching was not something I wanted as a career. I then began to work in the field of staffing, hiring, and recruiting in the private sector. I then started working for the Commonwealth in 2007 and am currently a Regional Field HR Director in NW PA. In my career, I am an HR generalist, so I handle many issues all related to HR, including payroll, benefits, labor relations, grievances, discipline, workers compensation, modified duty, unemployment compensation, arbitrations, and more.

Do you have any prior experience on decision-making committees?: I served on the school board for two years in an appointment capacity. I served on multiple committees during the negotiation process for the union contract for the teachers at PENNCREST. I was unable to run for a seat due to my children needing me to be more present at home (they were younger). Now that my kids are older, I am able to use some of my time to serve on the board and work for the district to make a difference in our community.

What motivates you to run for the PENNCREST School Board?: My children have attended school in PENNCREST since both were in kindergarten. I currently have a ninth grader and a fourth grader. I wish to be actively involved in helping PENNCREST improve the district by serving both the families and the kids as well as the staff and administration.

What is your vision for education in this community?: I have high hopes for PENNCREST. I would like to see our district become that coveted district again. There was a time that PENNCREST was a draw for families due to the high quality of education and the activities available to the families.

What do you think the community expects from the members of the school board?: School board members need to be fiscally responsible for the tax funds that fund the district. While much of the funds are already spoken for (i.e. salaries, benefits, etc.), the remainder needs to be spent in a fiscally conservative manner to benefit the students and administration at PENNCREST.

What personal attributes do you possess that you believe qualify you for this position?: I have already served on the school board for two years in an appointed capacity, so I am familiar with the processes and requirements of the board members. I understand the commitment needed for the board to be successful.

What do you believe is the top issue within our community at this time, and what would you propose as the solution?: There are numerous issues that need to be addressed, so I would need to work with the existing board members to prioritize those needs. Education should be first and foremost, along with extracurricular activities to embellish the education of our students and make the process that much more enriching. Students should have options available to them to be successful as an adult.

Ronald Charles Kope

Date of birth: November 7, 1977

Place of residence: Candidate did not provide an answer

Current occupation: Generac certified sales and service tech/electrician

Education history: I graduated from Maplewood High School in 1997. I have an Associates Degree from Dean Tech in Pittsburgh, 1999.

Do you have any prior experience on decision-making committees?: I have been a leader with the Scouts for nine years now. I ran the Cub Scout Pack in Townville for several years before moving to the Boy Scout level. I am the Assistant Scout Leader working with the community and the Scouts by preparing them for life after scouting. We also help them work towards earning their Eagle Merit Badge. “Eagle” is a rank that can be written on their resume to show that they have commitment and perseverance as well as leadership and people skills. I also hold the position of unit commissioner with the BSA. I work with the leaders of Pack 231 in Townville, Pack 97 in Titusville, and Troop 97 in Hydetown. I check in with them to make sure they have a schedule for the year. Making sure that they have a budget in order to make their plans happen is also important.

What motivates you to run for the PENNCREST School Board?: I enjoy doing what I can to keep the programs for our youth strong and effective in preparing them for a successful life after high school. My two kids attend Maplewood, so I have a vested interest in making our district the best it can be.

What is your vision for education in this community?: Diversified learning to prepare more youth with a better education that will set them up for success as an adult.

What do you think the community expects from the members of the school board?: To continue improving PENNCREST academically to prepare students for higher education and/or entering the workforce after high school with a balanced budget.

What personal attributes do you possess that you believe qualify you for this position?: I enjoy working with others to get programs and projects moving. I am a good listener and enjoy looking for solutions to problems rather than just worrying or complaining about them.

What do you believe is the top issue within our community at this time, and what would you propose as the solution?: I would love the opportunity to look more into the local budget to see if we can do more for our students without taxing families out of our community.

Robert H. Johnston Jr.

Date of birth: May 19, 1956

Place of residence: Hayfield Township

Current occupation: Retired/Security

Education history: I attended AFCENT International School in Brunssum, Holland from 1970-1974.

Do you have any prior experience on decision-making committees?: I was on the school board at French Creek Valley Christian School and was the board president for a couple of those years. I have spent the last four years on the PENNCREST School Board.

What motivates you to run for the PENNCREST School Board?: I ran for the school board because our students were falling behind. Twenty years ago, PENNCREST was rated within the top 50 schools in the state and we fell to the bottom 50 in the state. I would like to see us move back to the top 50 again.

What is your vision for education in this community?: My vision is to make our school great again. We need to be teaching the kids civics again as well as the Constitution so they understand how their government works and what their rights are so they know what’s trying to be taken away from them. I am also trying to make sure we hold the line on school taxes as many of our taxpayers are on social security and possibly a meager pension, so it makes it hard to keep asking them to pay more when at this time in their lives there are no more raises except in their taxes.

What do you think the community expects from the members of the school board?: I think the community expects us to hold the line on taxes and improve the education and safety for our students. We are also trying to make improvements to our campus buildings to help with school safety.

What personal attributes do you possess that you believe qualify you for this position?: I have learned to live within my means and get the most for my money. I am a team player who tries to work with everyone.

What do you believe is the top issue within our community at this time, and what would you propose as the solution?: School safety and curriculum for our students would top my list.

Robert Gulick

Date of birth: January 16, 1954

Place of residence: Hayfield Township

Current occupation: Retired teacher

Education history: Meadville High School; BS Elementary Education at Edinboro University; MEQ (Masters Equivalency Degree)

Do you have any prior experience on decision-making committees?: I have served almost four years on the PENNCREST School Board

What motivates you to run for the PENNCREST School Board?: I think we have done a great deal to improve the district but we are not done so I want to remain a part of it.

What is your vision for education in this community?: I will continue to work to make PENNCREST the highly ranked district that it used to be.

What do you think the community expects from the members of the school board?: Two things come to mind. They expect us to be good stewards of their tax dollars. Expenditures need to be examined for need and reasonableness.

What personal attributes do you possess that you believe qualify you for this position?: I am not afraid to question decisions I do not agree with. Going against the grain is necessary when the reason is sound.

What do you believe is the top issue within our community at this time, and what would you propose as the solution?: Of course, money is always the number one concern when discussing any school district in Pennsylvania including PENNCREST. I would like to see our state legislators finally tackle Cyber School funding reform in order to take some of the financial burden off the local school districts. Until then, as a board member what I can do is what I have done since I was elected. That is to continue to be fiscally responsible.

Mathew A. Vogt

Date of birth: March of 1988

Place of residence: Saegertown, Pa.

Current occupation: Service Manager at Vogt Heating and Cooling

Education history: I graduated in 2006 from French Creek Valley Christian School.

Do you have any prior experience on decision-making committees?: I have been on the board for FCVCC since 2015.

What motivates you to run for the PENNCREST School Board?: My daughter is a student at Saegertown Elementary School.

What is your vision for education in this community?: I think the system needs to be more tailored to each student’s individual needs. Not every person learns the same way. 

What do you think the community expects from the members of the school board?: I think the community wants a board that can more efficiently manage the finances without hindering the district’s ability to provide a quality education.

What personal attributes do you possess that you believe qualify you for this position?: I am willing to stand up for what I believe regardless of popular opinion.

What do you believe is the top issue within our community at this time, and what would you propose as the solution?: I believe parents have been overwhelmingly removed from the educational system. I also believe that some teachers are more focused on their own personal politics and beliefs instead of education.

Brian Lynch

Date of birth: February 13, 1967

Place of residence: Hayfield Township

Current occupation: Truck Driver

Education history: Norwin High School, Central Westmoreland Area Vo-Tech. Industrial Electricity

Do you have any prior experience on decision-making committees?: Currently serving on the PENNCREST School Board.

What motivates you to run for the PENNCREST School Board?: Previous school board was not forthcoming with expenses.

What is your vision for education in this community?: Provide students with the best opportunity to advance to either college or a trade school. Giving them the proper headstart will make their choices easier because they’ll be better prepared.

What do you think the community expects from the members of the school board?: An honest accounting of expenses and good stewardship of resources provided by the community.

What personal attributes do you possess that you believe qualify you for this position?: I have an interest to see that the students get the best education possible for the resources we can provide.

What do you believe is the top issue within our community at this time, and what would you propose as the solution?: Making quality education available to students whether it’s online or in person and making sure the school campuses are safe and in good repair.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: