Clubs hold school board candidate event


McKenzie Quirin

Student council and Youth and Government club held an event for the public to meet the school board candidates who are currently running for a school board member spot. Each candidate was given a minute and 30 seconds to answer the questions asked by the members of the clubs. Eight out of nine candidates were present at the meet the candidates night event.

On Tuesday, May 7 at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the auditorium Student Council and Youth and Government clubs hosted an event to feature the views of current and already appointed members of the school board. Th Meet the Candidates night event was strictly student-driven and open to the public.

This event was to inform the public on each candidates’ views on education and the future of the Altoona Area School District.

Each candidate was allowed a minute and 30 seconds to answer questions asked by the members of the club. Eight out of nine candidates were at the event.

The students in both clubs came together and discussed the various questions being asked prior to the event.

Student council adviser David Aboud and senior student council president and youth and government member Zoe Wilson both have similar opinions on the decision to have this event be strictly student-driven.

“Unfortunately, our society is too divided based only on the political party one belongs to. The effort was to take politics out of the process and have the candidates describe their stances on issues so people could make a decision based on what each candidate believed, not the party they belonged to. Many forums are sponsored by one side or the other, and they are not non-partisan. Our hope was to create that with it being student driven,” Aboud said.

Wilson says it is important for the questions to be in no way partisan.

“Having a student driven event ensured there would be no conflicts of interests between the candidates and members of faculty. It also was important to us that the questions be in no way partisan,” Wilson said.

Candidate Dutch Brennan is a current member of the school board while Candidate Mike Baker is running for election.

The idea of running for a school board member was different according to both candidates.

“I am a strong believer in public education. As a former AASD teacher, I bring in-depth knowledge of the district as well as 20 years experience in education. I hope to help the board return its focus to education and to end the constant bickering,” Baker said.

Brennan believes in the future generations to fix the community.

“I believe that the secret to fixing Altoona is in the future generations. Essentially, Altoona has had problems in earlier decades, and it won’t be fixed overnight, but if we can better educate our kids it gives them more of an opportunity to get better jobs and enticises better businesses to bolster our economy,” Brennan said.

Brennan and Baker have various opinions on improvements they would like to make as a school board member.

“We need to do a better job to get the word out to the school district. In evidence is how few attended this event; where’s the media,” Brennan said.

“It is imperative that the board acts to unify all District stakeholders — students, parents, teachers, administrators and business and community leaders — to rally around the great things that are happening in the AASD,” Baker said.

Brennan has previously been concerned with students throughout the grades.

“I am really optimistic coming on the board. I was very concerned on some of the kids graduating. I feel like in the last two years the student population has shown motivation and passion that we desperately need in this community,” Brennan said.

Baker says he will insure that the educational programs will rise.

“The new high school building, as well as the renovations to the A building will help AAHS to be one of the finest public high school facilities in the Commonwealth, if not the finest. As a board member, I will insure that the educational programming rises to the same level. I want AAHS students to graduate knowing that they are ready to take the next step in life and to become valuable members of the community,” Baker said.

Wilson hopes the school board will continue the investment in STEAM programs.

“I hope the school board continues to invest in STEAM programs that have had success elsewhere in the county. In other words, I believe it is important to keep moving forward and upward,” Wilson said.