Altoona Area School Board adding four new members

President Donley loses re-election bid

Altoona Area School Board President John Donley lost his re-election bid as all four open seats were taken by newcomers.

The four seats were won by top vote-getters Kelly Irwin Adams (6,376); Dave Francis (6,133); Ed Kreuz (5,160); and Rick Hoover, (4,040) votes, according to unofficial results.

First-time candidate Robin Reese (2,505) was edged out along with Donley (2,603).

The major issue in the race was the candidates’ positions on the $88 million plan that was designed a year ago to both update the district’s high school facilities and alleviate the districtwide problem of overcrowded elementary schools.

The new members who take their seats in December will be the ones to decide whether to commit to the plan.

Kreuz and Francis will join Sharon Bream and Ron Johnston, who have opposed the project.

And Hoover’s tentative yes puts him — tentatively — with current board members Dutch Brennan, Bill Ceglar and Wayne Hippo — who have voiced support for the construction plan.

Adams, who said Tuesday she is undecided, could be the deciding vote in this scenario.

Donley was a strong supporter of the building project.

Of all 26,817 votes cast in the school board election Tuesday, Adams won 23.78 percent; Francis won 22.87 percent; Kreuz won 19.24 percent; Hoover, 15.07 percent; Donley, 9.71 percent; and Reese, 9.34 percent.

“I want to congratulate the newest members of the board,” Donley said. “I am honored to have served on the board for the past four years and proud of what we have accomplished,” Donley said. “There is still a lot of work to do, and I hope that all members of the new board take their responsibilities seriously.”

Francis and Adams were at Jack & George’s on Tuesday night when the general election results came in, while Rick Hoover said he celebrated with a pizza at home.

“I’d like to thank the Altoona community for their support and the opportunity to serve as school director,” Adams said. “I’d also like to thank all the candidates for their dedication to the students of the Altoona school district and our community. My goal is to do my homework, be a good listener and make sound decisions in the best interest of the students and the community. (Regarding the building project) I am still undecided. I would like to look at other alternatives.”

The election winners had Republican nominations earned from the spring primary. Donley and Reese won Democratic nominations only, which put them at a disadvantage for the general election in the overwhelmingly Republican area.

“I am grateful for the overwhelming support during my campaign,” Reese said. “I count myself blessed to have been able to meet so many fabulous residents and children in our community, and I promise to help work on their behalf as I can in the future. I hope that those elected will understand the importance of public schools and will always support our children in fearless and forward-looking ways. We need strong public schools for our community to be strong.”

The current composition of the board has an apparent majority in favor of the project. But two potential supporters — Dick Lockard and John Klingeman — chose not to run for re-election. One member against it, Judy Berryman, also is not returning.

“I’m a wait and see, but right now I’m a tentative yes,” Hoover said.

“I want to thank everyone who took the time to vote for me,” he said. “I made it a point not to spend any money on this election. I think it’s important. I did this through meet the candidate nights and talking with people in the community. I made it an absolute point not to spend money on this election, because money is corrupting everything in the political system. It’s important in a local election to get the message across instead of putting signs up and running ads.”

Francis previously had served on the school board when the district’s junior high school was built.

“I thank the voters for their confidence. I will try to do what I did before when I served on the board — be honest, open and do the best I can for taxpayers and education. I want to try to get a cohesive board and administration. I want to look at our (standardized) test scores, get input from teachers and parents on why they are lagging. Financially, I’d like to look at our transportation, food services and get things out to bid,” he said.

As for the building project, he said “I’m still against it. Just costs too much money.”

Kreuz had a strong campaign presence with signage and a platform opposing the building project.

“I am very pleased with the outcome, and I want to thank everyone who helped me and supported my campaign,” Kreuz said. “I look forward to serving on the board in the best interest of the children and our community.”

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.