Posts Tagged ‘Ralph J. Pagone’

Our endorsed candidates, FISHER-PAGONE-RUSSELL, have support from residents across the district because they have spent the last several months advocating that ALL SEVEN elementary schools should remain open in order to preserve the district’s successful education model.

By taking a district-wide approach, making fact-based arguments, and being passionate about education, our candidates have gained much recognition. We believe their credentials and community service are further testaments to their character and we have included a profile on each of them below.

fisherb&wTara Zimmerman Fisher

Tara (Zimmerman) Fisher grew up in Franklin Park and graduated from North Allegheny. She has an undergraduate and graduate degree in accounting from the University of Virginia. Ms. Fisher started her CPA career with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Washington, DC and was later assigned to their U.S. Tax Desk in London, England. She also spent several years working for Congress as an accountant with the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Ms. Fisher and her husband, Ryan, moved from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh six years ago so that they could be near family and raise their 3 children (ages 7, 5, and 3) in the North Allegheny School District. Ms. Fisher is a part-time business professor at the University of Pittsburgh and she enjoys teaching tax and accounting classes to undergraduate and graduate students. She also serves on the Memorial Park Christian Preschool Board.

Ms. Fisher believes the district needs a long-term financial plan to preserve the programs and curriculum associated with North Allegheny’s elite status. She wants to help the board budget and plan for future obligations so that the district is effective in making strategic decisions (e.g. establishing a reserve for state mandated pension contributions). She also wants to help the district forge ahead in areas like STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics). She believes a tuition-based STEM education program could help the district generate new revenue.

pagoneb&wRalph J. Pagone

Ralph J. Pagone grew up in McCandless and graduated from North Allegheny High School. He also attended the University of Pittsburgh and has an Associate’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. Mr. Pagone and his wife, Bridget, have 4 daughters: two that graduated from North Allegheny, one at NASH, and one at Carson Middle. He is the Regional Manager for Richard Goettle, Inc., a geotechnical engineering and construction firm.

Mr. Pagone is an active member of the community. He has been a volunteer firefighter in the Town of McCandless for nearly 30 years. Mr. Pagone was responsible for implementing Fire Prevention Week safety visits at McKnight Elementary over 15 years ago and they still continue today. He also is a CPR and First Aid instructor throughout the North Allegheny community. Mr. Pagone has been active in the Ingomar/Franklin Park Athletic Association, McCandless Athletic Association, and is the Head Coach of the North Allegheny Varsity Girls Slow-Pitch Softball team.

Mr. Pagone has served on the North Allegheny School Board since 2005. During his time on the school board, Mr. Pagone has been integral in implementing several initiatives for the betterment of the district. These initiatives include the construction of a new Student Council room at NASH, the creation of fitness trails at NAI, the implementation of a new CPR program for 9th grade students, and the expansion of the district’s drug prevention policies. Mr. Pagone recently submitted a report to the board that includes a variety of options for raising funds via alternative revenue sources.

scottb&wScott Russell

Scott Russell grew up in the Pittsburgh area and graduated from Penn Hills High School. He earned a degree in Computer Science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Russell has 4 children: two at Carson Middle, one with special needs at Marshall Middle, and one at Hosack Elementary.

Mr. Russell is the IT Director for General Nutrition Centers (GNC), which is headquartered in Pittsburgh. He started his career with GNC 25 years ago as a programmer analyst. Mr. Russell is also an active member of the community. He has coached soccer, flag football, and served on the board of the Cystic Fibrosis GNC Challenge. His wife, Eileen, has served as the President of the Hosack PFA for two separate terms.

Mr. Russell believes the district needs a sound IT strategy to better prepare our students for the information age. He would like to help guide that process to make sure the district is meeting the needs of students, teachers, and parents. As a director at a large company, Mr. Russell is also equipped to confront the financial challenges facing the district. He has experience establishing and managing budgets, while considering the future needs of the organization. In addition, his hands on experience with special needs will provide the board with additional insight and sensitivities related to students with disabilities. Mr. Russell’s background in IT, financial planning, and special needs can benefit the district on many levels.

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Ralph J. Pagone says opponents of the proposed closing of Peebles Elementary are “not getting their voices fairly heard.”

When the North Allegheny School Board on Dec. 19 scheduled a public hearing on Superintendent Raymond Gualtieri’s proposal to close Peebles Elementary School, board members Ralph J. Pagone and Christopher M. Jacobs voted “no.”

Scheduling such a hearing is the first step a school board is legally required to take before it can consider closing a school.

At the school board meeting Nov. 28, Gualtieri told the board that closing Peebles would save $850,000 annually for the district, which is facing a $5.7 million deficit. He also argued that the district’s enrollment continues to decline and that its elementary schools are not full and have room for Peebles students.

The community group Save NA Schools has been leading the opposition to closing Peebles, and Pagone has been listening.

The group repeatedly has asked the board to form a community task force which would provide additional ideas for addressing the district’s projected budget deficits prior to a decision on closing an elementary school. It’s not clear what, if any, power the task force would hold and who would be part of it. The board has not addressed that request.

“Why not take a step back and enlist the help of these taxpayers?” Pagone said. “They are intelligent people who have made compelling arguments. We are the stewards of their tax dollars, after all.”

After the board meeting Dec. 19, board member Beth Ludwig indicated she would vote against the formation of a community task force even though she was originally open to the idea.

“I would not want to subject any non-elected community members to the tone and intensity of the current debate,” she said. “Also, at this point, I would not know what the board would have a task force do.”

Pagone said he has a different opinion.

“ Save NA Schools is made up of well-educated people, and they are not getting their voice fairly heard,” he said.

He said he also questions the wisdom of ignoring the recommendation of one consultant who recommended closing Bradford Woods Elementary because of the need for extensive repairs. Instead, the board favors the findings of a second study by Jon Thomas of the Thomas & Williamson construction program management firm, which suggests the opposite.

Thomas & Williamson is the same firm which, along with the school district, was the target of a lawsuit by James Construction Co. over renovations at Hosack Elementary in the late 1990s. Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Timothy Patrick O’Reilly ruled against the district and awarded damages of $524,087.

“We had 12 experts who told us what some board members didn’t want to hear,” Pagone said. “So what did we do? We tossed out that study and got a second opinion from a firm which we had questionable dealings with in the past as a result of a prior construction project.”

Pagone said he agrees with members of the Save NA Schools group that enrollment in the district will rise.

“Allegheny County and Western Pennsylvania are experiencing an increase in population for the first time in decades, and people will want buy either new or existing homes in the North Allegheny School District,” he said.

Pagone said he does believe the board should take action to alleviate overcrowded classrooms, particularly at Hosack Elementary, by redistricting elementary students.

And if a majority of the board ultimately decides to close one of the district’s seven elementary schools, Pagone said he believes the wrong school has been targeted.

“If you want to close a building, why not close Bradford Woods Elementary, which the initial report tells us needs $14 million in renovations?” he said. “We don’t have that kind of money, and Peebles doesn’t need any renovations.

To read more on the administration’s arguments for closing Peebles Elementary, click here.

To read the counter-arguments from Save NA schools, click here.

Read more:  http://northallegheny.patch.com/articles/north-allegheny-board-member-challenges-colleagues-on-proposed-school-closing