PEORIA, Ariz., 7 a.m. Oct. 9, 2012 -- Peoria Unified School Districtvoters will have plenty to choose from when filling seats on the district’s Governing Board.
There are three seats open for the PUSD Governing Board in the Nov. 6 election. Hal Borhauer is the lone candidate for a 2-year seat. Other candidates for two 4-year seats are Eddie Smith, Joe McCord, Matthew Bullock, Peter Pingerelli, Tracy Livingston and Bill Bercu. Diane Douglas, an incumbent board member, had filed for re-election, but withdrew her name to concentrate on her attempt to get elected to the Glendale City Council.
While the voter registration deadline was Oct. 8, early voting begins Thursday, Oct. 11, 26 days prior to the designated election day, according to Yvonne Reed, Maricopa County elections spokeswoman. The last day to vote early at an early voting location is 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2. Voter have until 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26 to request an early ballot, Ms. Reed said.
A longtime educator, Bill Bercu believes he can help the Governing Board face the challenges it has ahead.
“I have been an educator more than 20 years,” he said at the Peoria United Parent Council forum Oct. 2. “That knowledge, experience and training as an educator has prepared me for board service.”
Mr. Bercu’s teaching experience includes the high school and university level. Prior to his teaching career, Mr. Bercu worked in federal civil service and was an active duty and reserve military veteran.
He believes public schools are part of the character of a community, not just for students and parents. He served on school district meet and confer, technology and bond committees. As an educator, he understands the Arizona Curriculum Standards and Common Core Standards. This will help him be responsive to curriculum issues if elected to the board, Mr. Bercu believes.
“Blended learning and technology can be used to help alleviate large class sizes,” Mr. Bercu said.
As much of the district’s challenges revolve around finances, Hal Borhauer believes his business and previous board experience provides him with the tools necessary to address them.
“My business background has provided me with the skills to understand complicated financial information,” Mr. Borhauer stated in an e-mail. “My three years on the PUSD board have given me the necessary experience to continue assisting the district going forward in these challenging financial times.”
Mr. Borhauer has more than 30 years experience in the transportation industry, including managing his own business. After merging his company with United Road Services, he managed the towing operation for 19 companies in 12 states.
While the Department of Education implemented Common Core Standards more than a year ago, but no funding was supplied, according to Mr. Borhauer.
“That further strains the district budget,” he added.
A small business owner with three children in PUSD schools, Matt Bullock is poised to provide his expertise to the school district.
“I have coordinated multi-million dollar budgets,” he said at the PUPC forum.
Mr. Bullock works for a company that builds performance business computers and sells them throughout the country. He also owned nine Streets of New York restaurant franchises. He believes he is the only candidate with modern business experience.
“I understand the opportunity of bringing business concepts and strategies back to schools to help modernize the classroom and instill fiscal responsibility,” Mr. Bullock said.
He believes PUSD’s teachers and administration are one of its greatest strengths because they do not settle for average..
“You have to have great educators to be competitive in the global market,” he said.
First-hand experience with education provides Tracy Livingston with insight into challenges faced by PUSD officials.
A seventh-grade language arts teacher in the Deer Valley Unified School District, Ms. Livingston has a master’s degree in education and has been a classroom teacher for 11 years. She has taught at a variety of grade levels at different schools spanning a range of socio-economic levels.
“I understand the day to day challenges in the society of a teacher today,” she stated in an e-mail. “I am in the trenches daily and see the teachers work for achievement, the students cope with society’s changes and economic difficulties, and the parents coping with their new realities and needing more from the schools than ever before.”
Ms. Livingston believes district funds should be focused on students and teachers if PUSD schools are to compete in the global market.
Keeping up with technological advances, due to its cost, will be one of the district’s biggest challenges, according to Ms. Livingston. District officials may have to think differently to provide students what they need, she added.
A military background and operating his own business helped prepare Joe McCord for service on the Peoria school board.
He believes that experience taught him to look at all facts and to approach problems from different directions to find the best solution.
“Military and civilian leadership roles have taught me how to be a decisive leader while, at the same time, understanding the limitations on the power that goes with any leadership position,” Mr. McCord stated in an e-mail.
He served 28 years in the U.S. Army, rising to lieutenant colonel, and owned a publishing business for 23 years. He earned a bachelor of arts in history from the University of California Berkeley and a master of arts in business economics from Northern Colorado University.
Mr. McCord believes PUSD is “at the top of its game, enjoying recognition as one of the state’s top districts. He credits that success to dedicated personnel, from teachers to administration.
“The challenge will be to keep it there,” he stated.
Peter Pingerelli, Ph.D, wants to see the Governing Board focus more of its decision-making on student achievement.
A scientist, Dr. Pingerelli also has experience in business and education. He believes district officials need to address poor student scores in science and math. His scientific career included work at companies that specialized in bio-organics, cell biology and toxicology. He also has experience in research and student training programs.
Dr. Pingerelli is focused on improving student scores in math and science to help them be more competitive for jobs in a rapidly changing global market.
“Of the 39 schools, 19 have low math scores,” he said at the forum.
A parent with children in Peoria schools, he also wants more focus on creating a safe learning environment.
The parent of two students in PUSD schools and a third who went through them and is now in college, Eddie Smith is proud of the education they received.
“Despite all obstacles, I think the district had done and outstanding job,” he said at the forum.
Mr. Smith is a Glendale Fire Department captain. He also serves as Glendale Hope Corporation president, a nonprofit organization that is part of Glendale Firefighter Charities. He earned his college degree with a major in human performance and a minor in health.
While he believes district officials are hindered by funding, Mr. Smith believes large classroom sizes in PUSD schools is something they must address.
His profession is in fire prevention, but Mr. Smith is no stranger to education. His mother is a high school English teacher and his father is a high school bookstore manager.
“From my mother I learned great respect for the teaching profession, and from my father I learned the value of overseeing how education dollars are spent,” Mr. Smith stated in his candidate application.
Read more in the Oct. 10 print edition of the Peoria Independent.