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Six vie for BASD board

JACK BECHDEL

BELLEFONTE — The League of Women Voters of Centre County once again compiled capsules for area races, including the much contested Bellefonte Area School Board election.

The material seen here was compiled by the candidates and the League of Women Voters of Centre County (LWVCC) with assistance from the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. Each candidate’s reply has been printed as submitted by the candidate.

Candidates were invited to participate in the Vote411 online voter’s guide via email. All reasonable efforts were made to encourage candidates to participate. The candidates listed are those whose names appear on the ballot as of Sept. 2, when the ballot was approved by the Pennsylvania Department of State. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Nothing should be construed as an endorsement or non-endorsement of any candidate, party or initiative by the League of Women Voters or The Express.

Candidates (choose 4):

JORDAN EMELY

Jack Bechdel

Jack Bechdel, a Republican, is looking to secure his first term on the board.

Q: If elected, what will be your top three priorities, and how will you address them?

A: I would promote civil discussion versus heated hostility among board members. A sense of unity is necessary for the benefit of the students. I believe that music and art programs help develop young minds and expand their thinking. Preserving these will prepare our students to face their future better. In light of the pandemic, we need to do a better job at educating our children when challenges arise that disrupt their normal classroom studies. Online classes have to deal with more distractions for the students and make it difficult for the teachers to determine if the students are actively participating.

Jordan Emely

JON GUIZAR

Jordan Emely, a Democrat, is looking to secure his first term on the board of directors.

Emely is a 2017 Bellefonte Area High School graduate and holds a Bachelor of Science in Education and Public Policy from Penn State University. Emely holds some advising experience at the collegiate level.

Q: If elected, what will be your top three priorities, and how will you address them?

A: 1.) Equitable Education: The debate surrounding the Red Raider mascot has shown more of the cracks within our curriculum and the depth we need to go in the classroom over what the mascot of the district should be. Equitable education is important to ensure that we are preparing students to go into the world with the knowledge they need to be caring and contributing members of society. Finally, an argument against stripping the name Red Raiders has been “educate not eradicate.” If this is something the community is truly passionate about, we need to enhance our education to be equitable to all races and their experiences. 2.) Accessibility: As a member of the board, I will research opportunities to expand broadband to areas that don’t have it, and advocate for policies such as universal pre-k, and universal free and reduced lunch. 3.) Listen to the constituents: give students space to ask for change within the school. They are the ones that we vote on behalf of, and they deserve a voice.

Jon Guizar

RODNEY MUSSER

Current board president Jon Guizar, a Republican, is looking to retain his seat on the board.

Guizar holds a Bachelors in Civil Engineering from Penn State University and has served on the board for six year, three of those as board president. He has also served as a volunteer on various board for the last 20 years.

Q: If elected, what will be your top three priorities, and how will you address them?

A: 1. Learning Gaps — I look forward to encouraging the administration to explore alternate methods of identifying the learning gaps now deepened by the pandemic and supporting/voting to allocate the resources needed to address these gaps. 2. Aging Buildings — Our elementary project has been put on hold due to the events of the past year. As a civil engineer and sr. project manager in construction, I believe I am well positioned to get that project back on track and communicate concerns as well as opportunities to the administration to bring the project to a safe and timely completion. 3. Charter Reform — I will stand strong with other members of the board and the district as we work to bring understanding and change to cyber and charter school funding. I am not opposed to charter schools but I do believe strongly that they should be held to the same rules and financial accountability as our district. Successful charter reform could save the district a substantial amount of money.

Rodney E. Musser

ANDREA ROYER

Rodney E. Musser, a Democrat, is another incumbant looking for another term.

Musser is a 1969 Bellefonte High School graduate and holds a Bachelors from Michigan State University. He has volunteered with the Peace Corps Volunteer VISTA, on the Spring Township Planning Commission and Aglan Preservation Committee.

Q: If elected, what will be your top three priorities, and how will you address them?

A: Funding the needs of the district while respecting the community’s pocketbook. This process of managing our annual budget is difficult given the annual last minute unknowns from the State and Federal governments. Fortunately we have an exceptionally good budget office. We have been able to upgrade our facilities on a regular schedule but we need to remain within our borrowing capacity and maintain our AAA bond rating which allows us to borrow at a favorable rate and save money for the community. Our graduates will enter a global economy and we need to provide them with a broad perspective of the world. We must continue to focus on inclusion, diversity and equity education if we are to grow as a community and give our staff and students a better understanding of issues both here and abroad. The board of directors must be willing to lead the way in this discussion.

Andrea Royer

JEFF STEINER

Andrea Royer, who crossfiled as both Democrat and Republican, is another newcomer on the ballot.

Royer is a 1993 Bellefonte High School graduate, holds a Bachelors in Elementary Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Royer has experience teaching sixth through twelth grades both in the public and private, residential groups homes for adjudicated girls. She has experience in mental health and substance abuse counseling as well as with adjudicated males ages 12 to 21. She currently works with individuals with disabilities in a local day center. She has two children in the district, Lillian and Jackson.

Q: If elected, what will be your top three priorities, and how will you address them?

A: If elected to the Bellefonte School Board, my top three priorities are: To look at identification and testing regulations for special needs and gifted students. Often times students get overlooked, resulting in delays with testing, proper placement and IEPs. Better processes are needed to assure that every student experiences success in education! To investigate the availability of advanced technology for all. This would include further training for our staff to teach, prepare and advance our students for the constantly changing world of technology. To advance education of the whole student; that includes opportunities for students to participate in Fine Arts, Clubs, Athletics and Non-Athletics. Our responsibility is to provide the best education and extra-curricular activities that help students grow into well-rounded, young adults, ready to adapt to the world around them.

Jeff Steiner

Jeff Steiner, who crossed filed as a Democrat and Republican, is another incumbant looking to retain his seat.

Steiner holds a Bachlors degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Education from Penn State University. He has served on the school board for two terms and holds four years in board leadership. He is currently the district representative on the IU 10 Intermediate Unit Board of Directors where he chairs the Finance and Facilities Committee.

Q: If elected, what will be your top three priorities, and how will you address them?

A: Four years ago I ran on building a track and renovating Rogers stadium and am so grateful that we were able to accomplish this. We have initiated the process of upgrading our elementary schools and I very much would hope to use my experience with the track and stadium to help see this project through. We similarly need to ensure the availability of advanced technology for all students to ensure equal educational access. As we start to come out from under COVID we need to refocus on addressing mainstream learning gaps at all levels, which have increased due to the pandemic, as well as enhancing the identification of special needs and gifted students, with an easier and quicker path for testing and IEP development. Finally, ensuring the education of the whole student to include, but not limited to fine arts, clubs, athletic and non-athletic opportunities.

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