Bullying, student safety, finances among topics on minds of Allegheny Valley School Board candidates | #schoolsaftey

Voters in the Allegheny Valley School District will see three different races for the upcoming school board election.

Six people — Democrats Amy Sarno, Paula Jean Moretti, Nicole Paulovich and Glenna Renaldi, and Republicans Kathleen “Jeanne” Haas and James Schiemer — will vie for five seats for four-year terms on the board in the first race.

In the second race, Mary Ellen Ecker is unopposed for a two-year term.

The third race pits Democrat Nino Pollino against Republican Colleen Crumb for a two-year seat.

On the ballots, Sarno, Haas, Moretti, Paulovich and Ecker are cross-filed.

Haas, a lifetime resident of the area, works as a bus driver for W.L. Roenigk and has been on the school board for 12 years.

She said she’d like to see the district push more for technical schools because not every student goes to college. Regarding bullying, Haas said she’d like to have teachers become more aware of incidents and implement stricter punishments.

“I try to watch out for (senior citizens) seniors. We haven’t had a tax increase for a couple years, and I’d like to see that continue,” she said.

During her tenure on the board, schools have improved, Hass said. She said the district has good teachers and administrators.

Renaldi, a retired X-ray technician, has been on the school board for 24 years.

“I truly love being on the school board. I like being involved with the students. I like being involved in education,” Renaldi said.

She is proud of building remodel projects at Springdale High School and Acmetonia Elementary School.

“I miss very few meetings. I attend as many sporting events, plays, and (I) support the kids as much as possible. I try to be as involved and active in everything I can at the school and be a visible board member,” Renaldi said.

Sarno was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board in November. She is a teacher at Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School.

With a background in education, Sarno said she understands procedures and policies on the board and has a good understanding of K-12 education and student supports. She also is the parent of a first grader at Acmetonia.

“I have a vested interest in what’s going on in the district,” she said.

Sarno has led the Acmetonia playground project, which breaks ground in the spring. She wants the district to create a culture of belonging, handle reports of bullying and harassment, and take steps to prevent those situations from happening in the first place. She also would like the district to continue its improvement in academic test scores.

Schiemer, who works at Ecolab, said he is seeking a seat on the school board for the first time “to give the parents and students a voice.”

If elected, Schiemer said, he would put students and parents first, and bring fresh ideas to the board. He is a parent of two children at Acmetonia.

Schiemer said his top priority is to keep students safe in school, as well as being transparent, looking into an anti-bullying program and improving math and reading scores.

“I always look out for people, go to bat for people,” he said.

He said his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Slippery Rock University would be helpful in balancing the district’s budget and finances.

In 2004, Schiemer was found guilty of selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor and served up to a year of probation; in 2011, he pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking and a summary charge of harassment and served six months of probation, according to court records. He said those incidents are in the past and he has learned from them.

Moretti is retired after working as a secretary in the district for 30 years. A school board member for four years, she serves as treasurer and is on the finance and operations committee.

“I want to be sure that we are fiscally responsible,” she said.

Born and raised in Springdale, Moretti said she is in touch with the community and the district. She said she is a good listener and can see all sides of an issue.

“I feel there’s a lot to accomplish in this district. We have made progress in the four years I’ve been there. We keep current with our safety and security, hire the best teachers, and we’ve seen improvement in test scores,” Moretti said.

Paulovich works for an early childhood advocacy organization in Squirrel Hill. It’s her first time running for public office, and she said she saw a need for a fresh perspective on the board. She is a Springdale alum whose daughter is in seventh grade in the district.

“I’m invested in the children of our community and their educational experience,” she said.

Paulovich said bullying is a hot topic in the district, and she’d like to see the school continue to implement prevention strategies. She also said transparency from the board and district is important to the community.

She said she’s able to bring a parent’s perspective to the school board and would use her knowledge and experience to help create the best educational environment for students.

Crumb, who works as a paralegal at a law firm in Downtown Pittsburgh, was appointed to the school board last year.

“I would like to continue my work on the board,” Crumb said.

She said she has enjoyed her time on the board. She also is a parent in the district and notes her experience being involved with the Acmetonia PTA and high school sports boosters. Her main goals are students’ safety and education.

“I’m a parent. I’m a voice for the parents,” Crumb said. “My experience on working with teachers during my different boards at the school, be it PTA or boosters … I feel like I’m a good representative of the parents.”

Pollino, a retired financial planner, has been on and off the board for a total of 24 years. He filled a vacancy on the school board this summer. During his tenure on the board, the district has seen improvements, he said.

“I’m there to try to do the right thing for the community,” he said.

If elected, Pollino said he would bring to the board experience, honest relationships with the community and a financial background. He said that background would come in handy when it comes to budgets, the district’s lease with Springdale Borough for Veterans Memorial Field and the demolition of Colfax Elementary School.

“I would have a lot of good input for them, working with architects and contracts,” he said.

Kellen Stepler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kellen by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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