G-J school board race
Piccolantonio: Levy request should match community needs
Beryl Piccolantonio, a hearing officer for the Ohio Industrial Commission, is seeking one of three four-year terms on the Gahanna-Jefferson school board up for election Nov. 5.
Others on the ballot include incumbent Jill Schuler, Matthew Campbell and Jason Phillips.
In considering the district's needs, Piccolantonio, 36, said she has supported school levy requests in the past and would anticipate doing so again.
"However, without knowing the details of the anticipated request (for May), I cannot say with certainty that I would support it," she said. "While the details of the discussed levy have not yet been decided or shared, I have reviewed the budget and budget history, have discussed many of my questions with the district's treasurer, superintendent, and current school board members and am confident that the board will make an appropriate request to the voters."
In formulating a levy request, Piccolantonio said, the board must be cognizant that many residents in the district are struggling with the impact of the slowed economy and other changes made at the state and federal level.
"One example is the decision by the legislature and governor to make changes to the homestead exemption that will leave many new applicants for the exemption who were counting on it, ineligible," she said. "It is critical that the district seek input from the community when structuring the levy request so that the request is one that is appropriately matched to the needs of our district and manageable for us, the taxpayers."
Piccolantonio said school funding is an area of great personal interest to her and one she has spent considerable time researching.
"The reality is that there are many factors that impact our budget that are outside the control of a local school district," she said.
Piccolantonio said the local district must continually search innovative ways to bring resources to the schools by partnering with the business community, seeking funding from alternative sources and finding ways to save money.
She said one of the strengths of G-J is the high percentage of teachers and staff who actually live in the district and, therefore, have additional commitment to the success of the community.
"We are also fortunate to live in a diverse community comprised of people from many backgrounds and experiences," Piccolantonio said. "The benefit of such diversity is that it allows creativity to flourish. The board and school administration can and must tap into that creativity by engaging local residents and businesses to gather ideas, to ask for volunteer time and to find appropriate ways to share resources to eliminate waste and duplication."
Piccolantonio has experience in organizational administration and management, human resource issues and budgets.
"I have written and administered policies, I have worked as part of a team to negotiate and administer labor contracts and I have developed and conducted training for management and employees in these areas," she said. "I have also worked with others to develop and implement budgets -- for a department of a state agency and for the small business my husband owned."
She's also an attorney.
"I am expert at listening to and understanding various perspectives; resolving disputes; reading, understanding and explaining complex information; participating in group discussions; and making good decisions based on the best information available," Piccolantonio said.
Her father served as an elected school board member for 15 years and his father served for eight years.
"My husband and I have made that same commitment to our schools -- we volunteer at the schools, I regularly attend our district's school board meetings and I closely follow state and federal changes that impact our schools," Piccolantonio said.
"Most importantly though, I am a parent with two children already in the district (a fourth- and second-grader at Chapelfield) and my youngest is excited to join his brothers in a couple years."
Piccolantonio said she's committed to the success of the district.
"I am running for school board because I want to ensure that Gahanna-Jefferson continues to strive toward excellence for each of our children and for all of the families in our community," she said. "I have the experience, skills and perspective needed to contribute toward that goal. I also firmly believe in public participation and transparency in public education.
"I promise to be accessible and responsive to all who will share input and ask questions."