By Mary Spicer
Residents of Crawford Central School District will vote to nominate four candidates from each party to fill four four-year terms on Crawford Central School Board during the upcoming primary election. When the November general election rolls around, however, there will be five slots to fill.
The fifth race will be for a two-year seat on the board to fill the remainder of the term left open by the recent resignation of board member Kevin Maziarz. Before the end of the month, the school board expects to appoint a replacement for Maziarz; that individual will serve until the winner of the two-year term in the November election is sworn in during the first week of December.
Because Maziarz resigned after the deadline for submitting nominating petitions for slots on the ballot, his seat will not be included in the primary election. After the primary, however, the Republican and Democratic parties will each be allowed select a name to be placed on the November ballot.
School board candidates are allowed to cross-file, which gives them an opportunity to be listed on more than one party line on the November ballot.
In the upcoming primary, two candidates, Melissa Burnett and Jan Feleppa, have cross-filed on both Republican and Democratic ballots.
The names of John Amato and Jeffrey Deardorff will be listed on only the Republican primary ballot.
All four candidates have connections to education, although Burnett’s tie is to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania’s main campus, where she serves as secretary to the health and physical education faculty.
The remaining three candidates have direct links to Crawford Central.
Amato is a retired teacher who taught for 22 years in Crawford Central and Conneaut school districts. His wife currently works for Crawford Central, as does his sister.
Deardorff, the only incumbent on the primary ballot, is a retired Crawford Central teacher whose wife currently works for the district.
Feleppa recently retired as a special education supervisor with Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit 5, which provides services for the 17 school districts in Crawford, Erie and Warren counties. Her son currently works for Crawford Central.
The candidates represent a variety of opinions on two current issues.
On the ongoing standoff between the school district and Meadville Area Recreation Complex over funding for the complex, a situation that has resulted in the formation of an independent community-based committee to investigate options, candidates are staying flexible until all the voices have been heard.
As Burnett sees it, if it turns out that the school district isn’t using the rec complex as part of the school curriculum to promote education for students, then the district doesn’t need to support the facility.
Deardorff isn’t coming to a conclusion on the rec complex until it’s clear how much money is available in the district’s 2013-14 budget, which must be put into place no later than the end of June.
Feleppa, who has been attending school board meetings since the beginning of the current school year, says she’s listening carefully — and waiting to hear from both sides before making a decision.
“I believe they should move forward together rather than apart,” Feleppa said.
Amato hasn’t formed an opinion yet, but he’s leaning in the direction of the school district utilizing the facility but only paying for the services used.
After closing East End Elementary School on Meadville’s Walnut Street at the beginning of the current school year, Crawford Central has been searching for ways to make use of the building in a way that will allow the district to continue to collect reimbursement from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to cover approximately 1/3 of the cost of the recent renovation of the building. Recently, the district hired an architectural firm to explore the possibility of converting part of the building into the district’s administrative headquarters, a move that would enable the district to put its current Instructional Support Center in Vernon Township on the market.
Deardorff, who is anxious to preserve the state reimbursement, is waiting to see if the architects determine that the move is feasible.
As Feleppa sees it, now is not the time to consider such a move. “They should be waiting,” she said.
Amato says he isn’t necessarily opposed to making the move, but he doesn’t understand why it was necessary to spend more than $8,000 on a feasibility study.
Burnett is reserving final judgment, but based on what she’s heard so far, she said she’s open to the idea of moving the administration offices into a more modern, efficient facility.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.