EXETER — Although there are only five seats available, voters will have plenty of options with 10 candidates seeking four-year terms on the Wyoming Area School Board.
Among the candidates are Democrat/Republican Bob Trusavage and fellow Democrat/Republicans, all seeking second terms, Beth Gober-Mangan, Deanna C. Farrell, Catherine Estelle Campenni and Carl J. Yorina Jr.
Democrat/Republican and current board president Estelle Campenni is seeking a third term.
Independent candidates are former school board members Toni Valenti, Nick DeAngelo and Samuel J. Aritz, Michael A. Aufiere and Matthew Bartoli.
First-time candidate Bartoli said he is tired of the school board being careless with money and how it handles negotiating contracts with school faculty.
He also mentioned how this past high school baseball season almost didn’t happen because the board waited until the last minute to hire current coach Ron Musto.
“They wait until the last minute to start negotiating and they’ve hired a lot of people from outside the district when there are plenty of qualified candidates within the school district,” Bartoli said. “I want to try to get our property taxes lowered, I want to see more hiring of candidates from within the district rather than outside the district. I believe they deserve the jobs more, as long as they’re qualified. I want to cut down on the wasteful spending.”
At its June meeting, the board voted 8-1 to pass the 2015-2016 school year budget that called for a 2.6 percent property tax increase.
DeAngelo, who served on the Wyoming Area School Board for eight years before losing in the 2011 election, wants to attack the property taxes head-on.
He said the flood of 2011 is a big reason why property taxes are so high.
“Since the flood in 2011 that knocked people out of the West Pittston area, there’s taxes on places where people haven’t come back to,” he said. “The businesses don’t have a lot of business income which is another drawback. By raising the taxes, the elderly and some younger people can’t handle those type of taxes and it’s a big concern.”
DeAngelo said, if elected, he will do what he can to help keep property taxes down.
Another aspect he wants to ensure is that students do not suffer academically or that their extra curricular activities suffer.
He wants to fix the school’s tennis courts as Wyoming Area tennis players have been using the Pittston Area tennis courts for practice and matches for the past few seasons.
“I want to get a grant and get the courts fixed up,” he said. “Once upon a time, we were able to afford to facelift them year after year. They are old and I would like to take care of those. Everything is good with the soccer field and other fields, and there are other glitches here and there, but the tennis courts are a major concern.”
Valenti, who served on the school board for 21 years before losing in the 2011 election, wants to be re-elected to help with property taxes, as well.
“I really enjoyed working on the board and I actually miss it,” she said. “There’s my concerns about the taxes going up for senior citizens and young people. Hopefully, we can work on something to get something done.”
Valentine said during her time on the school board, the board once managed to turn a $20 million project into a $10 million project.
Half of that $10 million, she said, went into remodeling projects at the Secondary Center, Sarah J. Dymond Elementary School and the 10th Street Elementary School. The other $10 million went into a savings for future necessities.
Earlier this year, a feasibility study called for the potential closure of one of the district’s elementary schools, potentially Sarah J. Dymond.
Valenti said she will do her best to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“(The school board) has been talking about closing one of the elementary schools and I’m not in favor of it,” she said. “I want to keep it in the town if we can afford it. I’m not for closing any of the schools.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher