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PENNCREST School Board candidates share views

Compiled by Joe Slye, Haley Butler, and Brennen McWright, staff writers and news editor

The following includes responses to questions sent out to the candidates of the 2021 PENNCREST School Board election. The polls will be open Tuesday, Nov. 2 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Registered voters may select four of the six candidates to fill four 4-year term seats. 

Theresa Croll, Mathew Vogt, and Brian Lynch are cross-filed as both Democratic and Republican candidates, Robert Gulick is a Democratic candidate, and Robert Johnston is a Republican candidate. Nerissa Galt is a write-in candidate.

Editor’s Note: Surveys were sent out on Oct. 26. Brian Lynch and Robert Johnston did not respond to the candidate questionnaire before the press deadline. 

Theresa Jean Croll 

What is your vision for education in this community?: My hope is that all students in the district receive top-quality education that allows them to think critically and to be productive citizens of our great country.

What do you think the community expects from the members of the school board?: I think the community expects board members to conduct themselves professionally. They should also expect the board to act in the best interest of the students, taxpayers, and staff.

What personal attributes do you possess that you believe qualify you for this position?: I am a parent of two students in the district. I have served on the school board in 2016 and 2017. My career in HR has also prepared me to offer ideas for the district to consider.

What do you believe is the top issue within our community at this time, and what would you propose as the solution?: Unity is the top issue. We are fractured because there are so many opposing viewpoints. We can all have different opinions but still get along. Focusing on the division only spurs strife. We need to focus on the students.

Robert Gulick

What is your vision for education in this community?: My vision is for PENNCREST to once again be a premier District. One where parents want to move their kids into, and one in which people want to remain.

What do you think the community expects from the members of the school board?: The community expects that we provide as many opportunities as possible for the students. Every child has different needs, interests, and talents. Therefore we need to provide not only educational opportunities, but also opportunities in the areas of arts, music, and athletics.

What personal attributes do you possess that you believe qualify you for this position?: I have four years of experience as a PENNCREST board member. If re-elected, I will not have the learning curve that new board members experience. Also, I have 17 years of experience as an Elementary teacher at Saegertown. This gives me a unique perspective. I know firsthand what the students need and how the education process works.

What do you believe is the top issue within our community at this time, and what would you propose as the solution?: I think money remains the top issue. None of us want to raise taxes. What we can do as board members is to scrutinize spending. We need to keep costs down, without affecting student education and opportunities.

Mathew A. Vogt

What is your vision for education in this community?: I want a district that offers a quality education and a safe learning environment. I think we have a major issue with politics in the district and it needs to stop. These kids should not be persecuted for their beliefs, but they need to also know there is a time and a place and school is neither.

What do you think the community expects from the members of the school board?: They want me to prevent CRT from ever being taught, put a balanced budget together, and stop the tax increase while improving our schools’ 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 in and not back down. I am open to a debate, and I am willing to hear all sides, but I am not willing to compromise on my beliefs or on the education of our children.

What do you believe is the top issue within our community at this time, and what would you propose as the solution?: There are a number of issues at this time, but our budget needs to be balanced, and this needs to include future expenses so that we do not have to raise taxes every time a building needs repairs.

Nerissa Galt

What is your vision for education in this community?: I envision a winning mix of “the three Rs” and practical, real-world education. American students are some of the brightest in the world, but we have to allow that brilliance to come through by teaching critical thinking skills so that kids can learn the power of forming their own worldview. I believe we can be the best district again and that will come through trust. The ability to trust the board, trust between parents and teachers, trust between students and administrators, etc. Everyone in the PENNCREST system of education needs to be able to trust one another to accomplish excellence.

What do you think the community expects from the members of the school board?: I think the community expects two things: excellence in education and low taxes. I think one doesn’t necessarily have to come at the cost of another, but you do have to spend money sometimes to make improvements.

What personal attributes do you possess that you believe qualify you for this position?: I think my passion for justice and my tenacity are what make me an excellent fit for the board in its current state. In general, my problem-solving skills and my lean towards diplomatic action can be an asset to any group of individuals from mixed backgrounds who come together for a common goal.

What do you believe is the top issue within our community at this time, and what would you propose as the solution?: Fear. I believe that a lot of people are afraid of unknowns and that these unknowns are frightening to them. Fear is a driving force in the recent board meeting topics of conversation. It’s been said many times recently: these are trying times. Most people alive today have never experienced anything like this pandemic. Young people have grown up in a post- 9/11 society. We’ve never been more divided politically in recent history. It’s natural to let fear rule, I think. It’s human nature. We need to rise above it and remember that we are neighbors and let love and kindness rule instead.

staceyanderton1 View All

Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School

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