MIFFLINTOWN - The seats on the Juniata County School Board of Directors are full again after two candidates were appointed to Regions 8 and 9 during a special meeting Tuesday in Mifflintown.
The board approved Daniel I. Clark for the Region 9 and Angela Burdge for the Region 8 director positions after interviewing three candidates during the public meeting. Nancy Parson also applied for the Region 9 position.
The board members began with the Region 8 interview, and Burdge was the only candidate for the seat.
When asked about her interest in the position, Burdge said she wanted to get involved in the community. The candidate said she grew up in Michigan and later moved to her husband's native Pennsylvania. She said she has a daughter in high school and two young children who are not yet school-age.
Although she never served on a school board before, Burdge said she is interested in "the way things work."
She emphasized the importance of extracurricular activities to "keep kids out of trouble" and prepare them for college. She said her personal goals while on the board are to keep students involved and make sure activities are supported.
"I want to make sure nothing gets cut that (students) need," Burdge said.
When asked her opinion about the possibility of consolidating schools if the school district's developing feasibility study should recommend it, Burdge said she did not have a problem with the issue if it "is done correctly and no one gets left behind."
While living in Michigan, Burdge said the schools in her area had no choice but to consolidate due to finances.
"I will try to work hard and give it my all," Burdge said.
In answer to board members' questions, Burdge said she owns property in Juniata County and lives near Old Port.
The school board members approved Burdge's appointment in a 6-1 vote. Randy Dressler cast the only dissenting vote.
In Region 8, the board members asked questions to both candidates.
Clark began his interview by introducing himself as the recently retired county game warden. A 25-year resident of Juniata County, Clark said his wife previously served on the school board.
Until his retirement as game warden, Clark said he was ineligible for a seat on the board because of the Hatch Act. However, Clark said he still was involved in the school district as a community member, especially when he felt the board of directors was neglecting the students' interests.
While his wife now has a job that does not allow her the time to commit to a position like school director, Clark said he does have the time, now that he is retired.
Through his job, Clark said, "I got to know the people from all around this county. I know how they think, and what they don't like and what they do like."
In answer to the school board's question about school consolidation, Clark said he could not make a decision without knowing background information. However, he said community members usually feel more strongly about elementary school consolidation because they consider the building like a home.
He said the high school students probably would not have a difficult time coming together; however, consolidation could be a problem with parents who remember the old rivalry between the two high schools.
When making a decision about consolidation, Clark said the school board must look at all the positives and negatives as well as keep their constituents' concerns in mind.
In answer to a question, Clark said the school board has the responsibility to provide the best education to students at a cost taxpayers can afford.
When asked why he wanted to serve on the board, Clark said, "I don't just want to sit back and then come out and b-- about (an issue). The only way to not be part of a problem is to be part of the solution."
Clark said he believes he can adequately represent his constituents' views, and he is willing to listen and change his opinion on issues if someone presents a better argument.
Clark said he enjoys working with youth and volunteers with the Boy Scouts. Clark said he has two children who attend Juniata High School.
After the interviews for the Region 8 position, the board unanimously approved Clark.
Board Vice President Elaine Van Horn commented during the interviews about candidates coming to the school board with specific agendas.
"You can't (have agendas)," Van Horn said. "Each is only one person on the board and we have to work together. It takes a lot of time and thought. We have a good group to work with and a good administration ... but it's a difficult job."
Board President Gary Zeiders congratulated the two board members for their appointment and thanked all three for their interest in serving the community.
"I will look for the best from both of you," Zeiders said. "Sometimes it's a thankless position ... but our work is very important to the district."
Both candidates were sworn in at the end of the special meeting Tuesday.
Regions 8 and 9 of the Juniata County School District Board of Directors were vacated after the November election, according to election results provided by county Voter Registrar Eva Stong.
Region 8, including Port Royal Borough and Spruce Hill and Turbett townships, previously was represented by Richard Burchfield. John Noss formerly represented Region 9, which includes Lack and Tuscarora townships.
The school board also recognized Noss, Burchfield and Ralph Bashore for their years of service as directors; however, the three former board members did not attend the meeting Tuesday.