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Tyrone School Board candidates share their views at first Meet the Candidates Night

Editor’s Note: The first Meet the Candidates night took place last night at the Tyrone Elementary School Large Group Instruction Room. In today’s Daily Herald, we focus on the Tyrone School Board candidates. Rev. Norman Huff, a candidate for Tyrone School Board was unable to attend because of a prior commitment at the Bellwood High School with their play.
In tomorrow’s Daily Herald we focus on Tyrone Borough Council and the Snyder Township Supervisor candidates who attended.
The entire forum will be aired Saturday morning starting at 11 a.m. on WTRN AM 1340.

Five of the six candidates for the Tyrone School Board attended last night’s Meet the Candidates night held at the Tyrone Elementary School Large Group Instruction Room. This is a candidate by candidate synopsis of what they had to say.
Ray Detwiler
“I am a native of Tyrone and I have been concerned about the quality of our children’s education for a number of years. I have a child that is a straight A student and the state says that my child performs below average, particularly in the math part. The state wants me to pay for a tutor for my child. Why would I have to pay a math teacher to tutor my child when my child is supposed to be a straight A student in the school’s grading policy? I don’t feel we have a fair representation. I always thought the elected officials were there to represent the people. There needs to be a willingness to work with the public. Technology… if you noticed in the Persian Gulf War, the last time the technology was there, this time the technology was surpassed with pinpoint accuracy. Yet I walk the halls here and see the same projects on the wall, year after year, for the last 15 years. The same reading programs, math programs and the same displays. It tells me that we aren’t keeping up with the times. I think we need to change math and science. I know this because of my own children, one who is graduating from Juniata College this Sunday. This was brought to my attention by the college. This needs to be looked at. I have the willingness and have the time to sit down and work with people.”
• Hiring of substitute teachers to replace teachers who have left the district — “The policy needs to be a lot different than it is right now. I know a couple of these substitute teachers. They have put in their time and dedication to this community for in some cases 20 years. When it comes time for a full-time position the answer is, ‘We don’t know who you are or you’re not doing the job.’ They go outside and hire someone else. That is doing these substitute teachers a discredit. The hiring policy should be that they should start with the substitute list and go from there to bring them on to full time.”
• Greatest strength of the school district — “You got me on that one. I am flat-footed. The greatest strength is its size of the community. We have a small community. We have the ability to communicate and work together. If we can get the people to come out to the meetings, I think we can accomplish more.”
Luther Laird
“My wife and I are graduates of the Tyrone School District; I have four children who graduated from Tyrone. I feel they got an excellent education and they all went on to college and were able to get their degrees. I am retired and I have time to give to the community. My goal is to help keep this school an excellent school for the children and the community in the future.”
• Drug Testing Policy — “We had 11 days of tests this year which was our first year. I know we have had a few positive tests. I feel our policy needs looked at in several areas. We are going to look at the policy and hopefully make some changes. We have too many people in the pool. I believe that we should be testing less because the results are getting watered down.”
• Greatest Need of School District — “Being on the school board for the last four years, the greatest need is a better communication between the parents, the community and the school.”
Becky Emenhiser
“I’ve been a member of the school board for six years. I am a single parent of two daughters who are nine years apart. When my oldest daughter went to college, I decided to make some positive changes in my life. I attended parent-teacher conferences, a few PTO meetings and a few school board meetings. After Brandy went to Penn State, I went to Logan School and became an officer of the PTO. I was an officer for two years. I enjoyed my work with the kids. I talked with the teachers and really believed that a good education is what our children need. I served on the Citizens Advisory Panel to revise the investments of the school district. When a seat came open on the school board I applied and was selected to fill the seat. That is when my eyes were opened. I never realized the amount of work that goes on with the school board. The laws of the Commonwealth that must be followed, the policies that must be remembered and there is so much to learn and understand. I have attended training seminars for school board members and have attended the last three legislative leadership conferences. I have been an advocate of public education. With the passage of the No Child Left Behind act, school districts will be grasping with several issues to include teacher certification and testing accountability. I believe that our schools are ahead of the game. Our students’ test scores are the highest among neighboring communities. There are many wonderful teachers who are encouraging our young people to do their best. We have a school board who works well together and is committed to providing the best educational opportunities to the children of this committee.”
• Drug possession on school grounds policy — “We have discussed in making changes in this policy. It was made in the mid-1990s and at that time we didn’t have the serious drug problem that we have now. I myself would choose to make it a little harsher, but state laws mandate that we still have to educate the student. We just can’t expel them without being responsible for their education. In the next few months, we will be looking at that policy and know that we will be revising it.”
• Out of State Field Trips — “I have always supported out of state field trips. I abstained on the New York trip vote. I believe that the kids should have the opportunity. I don’t feel that the war or terrorist threat should have prevented the students from attending that trip.”
Lee Stover
“It is a pleasure to be here and share my views with the audience here tonight. I have been on the school board for some nine years. I have served on many committee positions, have been vice president and currently serve as president of the board. I believe that my success on the board is completely linked to the individuals that I have had the opportunity to work with. This community is served by individuals with a strong work ethic concerned with their board duties. They have a sincere interest in the financial welfare and the educational well being of the children with the financial responsibility to the community served by the district. This is not always an easy set of decisions to handle. You balance the financial with the educational benefits. What I have found has helped me through these nine years is I try to be objective. I look at the issue and I look for the facts, and I try to base my decision from keeping in mind we want to facilitate the learning in these children to make them competitive in today’s world and we want to do that in a responsible fashion.”
• KOEZ for Westvaco and Dixon properties — “School districts never want to give up taxes. That is the basis on which we finance things. The positives in attracting business and industry to the area outweigh the loss of tax dollars. Our district needs to attract industry, it needs to attract businesses that will in the future provide us a strong tax base for the district.”
• Future Construction Projects — “In the original plans for the school district, we had more things in store for the middle school. We have a gymnasium, additional classroom space and I would like to see a cafeteria for the middle school. We have done a good job so far in the middle school, but we are not completely there. I believe that we need to put money into that to bring us into a true middle school situation that will benefit the children grades six through nine. From the information I have read, they have developmental issues that they are dealing with. Stepping right into the high school is not the right choice and staying in the elementary atmosphere isn’t as well.”
Pete Dutrow
“I am seeking re-election as your representative on the Tyrone School Board. Tyrone has been my home 39 years. My wife Patty and I have raised five children who we believe got an excellent education here. I have served as an educator for 35 years with additional duties as an advisor, administrator, coach and athletic director. I have worked with people at every level from the students to the administration. Two years ago I was elected as a write-in candidate. Since I have been on the board, I was chosen to serve as chairman of the Educational Programs and Materials Committee. That has really opened my eyes. I didn’t feel that it was my strong suit. We are specifically going to have to deal with Cyber Schools and No Child Left Behind. I continue to attend numerous district, regional and state school board in-service meetings to better serve you. I have the experience, knowledge and commitment to make a difference on the board.”
• No Child Left Behind — “First of all I have to say, I don’t agree with it. I feel that attainable goals is what it is all about. Hopefully someday we are going to realize that 100 percent is not attainable. What we are going to do is work with our staff, work with our administrators and provide our students with the best possible education. It has to be a total commitment. At this point and time, we did well on the PSSA test which is being used as a measuring stick. We are going to do everything we can to help our students achieve.”
• Coping with state budget cuts — “I have to thank our superintendent and the previous board for their efforts. We are in a strong financial position. I really feel with the cut in the state budget, the Tyrone School District will be able to handle it with little impact. In the position that we are in, we are not going to have to cut programs. Our students will not be affected.”