With four seats up for election on the Ellwood City School Board, the Ellwood City Kitchen Cabinet hosted a Meet the Candidate Night for the potential school board candidates to publicly answer questions and present their opening and closing statements.
Although a wide array of topics were discussed during the evening event, one of the main topics was the potential outsourcing of cafeteria workers the school board has recently been debating.
Norman Boots, a newcomer and custodian who graduated from Lincoln High in 1981, stressed his displeasure of the outsourcing option, saying that the cafeteria workers are also community tax payers and that he believed there should be other money saving avenues explored.
Included in his opening statement he stresses he will invest his efforts into “protecting our staffs jobs without having to raise taxes,” he also stated he wants to make sure money is well spent while students still have what they need to get a good education.
Barbra Wilson, another new running candidate, current congregational administrator and company owner with previous experience teaching, had a different approach to the outsourcing topic; she said that while her son was attending school he had “many severe food allergies and the staff kept him safe.” There was a round of applause followed by her remark.
Like Boots, she also agreed that there should be other ways to bring in additional income because “you can’t outsource the kind of care he (her son) got,” again warranting a round of applause from several attendees in the audience.
Wilson believes she would be an excellent candidate for the school board thanks to her knowledge of the educational system. She graduated from Slippery Rock University with a Bachelors in Elementary Education in 2005 and completed SRU’s Master’s Level Certification Program in Reading Education in 2010 and she worked as a teacher in the Freedom Area School District, Lead Teacher for the Beaver County Head Start, and RTII facilitator for the Ellwood City Area School District. She has 5 children who have all attended Ellwood City Area Schools.
“I don’t want our school to be compared to other school districts – I want us to stand out as Ellwood City,” she stated.
Kathy McCommons, also a newcomer and current teacher at Parents’ Preschool did not have much to comment on about outsourcing in particular. She stated that if she is voted to be on school board she will base her decisions and opinions on factual evidence and numbers.
She believes she would be a good addition to the school board thanks to her “past proven dedication to the school district.” She has three daughters who attend Ellwood City Schools, and she has been a leader in the Ellwood City Elementary PTO, as well as on numerous ECASD committees. She has worked closely with administration, teachers, and staff allowing her to gain an in-depth understanding of the district.
Renee Pitrelli, who has been on the school board for over three years, and Kathy Pansera who is seeking her fourth term on the board, are both running for reelection. The duo agree that no outsourcing option will be made without the public’s knowledge.
Pansera provided financial figures stating that over the last four years the district had contributed nearly $350,000 to offset cafeteria losses.
Pitrelli said the school board is seeking the most fiscally responsible option while also aiming to make the best decision for all involved.
Both Pitrelli and Pansera trust their previous experience on the school board in addition to the achievements the school board has accomplished during their terms will be a desirable quality for the two potential candidates.
Each of the candidates biographies are below: