Gateway candidates address school board
Gateway school board members sat quietly as they listened to nine people talk about why they should be picked fill a former director’s seat.
Each candidate was granted five minutes to address the board at the meeting. The candidates include Nicholas Baum, Dave Beistel, Matt Birx, Jack Bova, Paul Caliari, Susan Delaney, Christian Giles, James Lomeo, Neal Nola, Mandal Singh and Chad Stubenbort.
Birx and Bova were not present during the meeting.
Here are snippets of what each candidate said during their presentation to the board.
He said he is an Army veteran who served one year in Afghanistan and has an 11-year-old autistic child in the school district.
“I believe that having an autistic child, I can be a very good advocate for those children. That’s my main reason for wanting to do this,” Baum said.
He works for Union Railroad as a contract negotiator.
He said he is an Army veteran and served in Vietnam. Beistel has two daughters who graduated from Gateway High School and now live in Washington, D.C.
“I think education is very, very important. It starts at home, but I would like to see the high standards that Gateway has now to continue and hopefully improve,” he said.
Beistel worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years.
He is an eight-year Monroeville resident and recently finished a four-year term on Monroeville council. He said he misses public service after not running for re-election.
“I’m surprised that I missed it so much when I wasn’t doing it anymore … I think the experience I have as a previous elected official will help me here,” Caliari said.
He also said he would work to improve relations between the school board and the municipality.
She has 46 years of experience in education, most of which were spent in the Pittsburgh Public School system.
“I have a passion for, not just teaching, but for the young people in general and I want to see, as all have said before me, that academic excellence that has been a tradition at Gateway School District — I want to see that continue,” she said.
Delaney also serves as a judge of elections in Monroeville and volunteers at Forbes Hospital’s chapel and her church.
Giles is a black woman who said she wants to fill the board vacancy because the school district needs to better represent its diverse population.
“How can this board make informed decisions for all when the board isn’t culturally and racially diverse to relate to all who live within the school district?” she said.
She is a mother of three and graduated from Gateway High School in 2000. She also serves on the municipality’s human needs and resources board.
The real estate attorney and former mayor of Monroeville encouraged board members to ignore politics when selecting a candidate.
“I’m not saying you have to select me — I’m saying you have to select a person based on merit and not politics,” Lomeo said. “We need to have serious people working on these serious problems.”
He mentioned the looming teachers contract and a potential property tax increase to fill the district’s $878,000 budget gap as his top concerns in the district.
The 29-year-old finished a four-year term on the school board in January.
“I actually didn’t even want to leave the board,” he said.
Nola unsuccessfully ran for a Monroeville council seat last year.
He described himself as fiscally conservative and said that would help Gateway in balancing a budget.
He was born in India and moved to Monroeville in 2010 when he retired from working at the University of Pittsburgh.
He serves on the Monroeville Public Library board.
“The right to K-12 public education is very precious … and my background in science and technology may be useful to you people,” Singh said.
Stubenbort, who holds a degree in entrepreneurship and finance from Duquesne University, said his experience with the district’s budget as a previous board member would help. He said he knows the budget better than anyone besides Paul Schott, the district’s business manager.
“Some may misconstrue the last line about knowing the budget better than anybody else as cocky. There’s a huge difference between being cocky and being confident,” Stubenbort said.
The Gateway High School alumnus served a four-year term with the board. The school board has until May 17 to fill the vacancy.