PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Student School Board Candidates Debate at Forum

Last night at the State College Borough Building, (our sister site) and the State College branch of the American Association of University Women hosted a forum for the eight candidates running this fall for the Board of Directors of the State College Area School District. The forum was also supported by the Borough of State College, and Patton Township. senior reporter Adam Smeltz served as moderator. Three incumbents and five challengers are vying for a total of five vacant seats.

This year’s election is an unusual case, in that two Penn State undergraduates have thrown their hats in the ring. One is freshman Lydia Glick, a seven-year resident of State College. The other is the ever-conspicuous, button-wearing president of Penn State’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, Sam Settle.

Most of the debate centered around balancing pressing fiscal constraints with maintaining quality of education intact for students, and excellent benefits and pay for employees—all in the face of a recent budget shortfall for the district. Most of the candidates expressed the same sentiments, that every measure had to be taken to conserve the high quality of education in the district, while cutting programs and personnel as little as possible. Most candidates stressed “creative” budget strategies like increased revenue from private fundraising campaigns. Glick even suggested selling Memorial Field and eventually moving it to a less flood-prone location. “I don’t understand how we can have a budget shortfall and then be willing to pay out money to make a temporary fix on Memorial Field. How can you be paying out this money when we have no money?”

Settle, unsurprisingly, espoused a much different viewpoint. Citing statistics that the SCASD placed 6oth in the Commonwealth for test scores and 16th highest in per-pupil spending (incumbent candidate Dorothea Stahl later corrected his figure to the district placing 160th in spending). “There’s a lack of return on the investment,” he said. He expressed the need to cut spending on personnel—70 percent, he said, of the district’s budget, to make the budget more manageable. “More money does not always equate to a better education and cuts do not always equate to a worse education,” he asserted, fitting in with his overall plan for more efficiency in the district. He suggested that the district should study those that “outperform” the SCASD in test scores and that spend less money doing so, thus developing a model for optimal success for students at the lowest cost to taxpayers.

The other large issue that arose was that of vouchers for optional private school educations for those students who want to opt out of the public school system or shop around neighboring school districts and choose to enroll there. For instance, a student dissatisfied with his or her education in State College could attend public school in Bellefonte. Most candidates, including Glick, were distressed by the idea, objecting that such a program would take money away from the public school system. Settle has been an outspoken advocate for school vouchers, pointing to the button on his lapel reading “I SUPPORT SCHOOL CHOICE.” He explained, saying that vouchers would make public schools have to compete more freely with other options like private and parochial schools; they would no longer be able to bank on students enrolling thanks to free tuition.

Many in the audience seemed to take issue with Settle’s viewpoints, noting their disapproval by shaking their heads and murmuring. Certainly the story of the evening, he brought a new and controversial position to the discourse of the school district, seeming more so than his opponents to running the school district as a business. While the concern to balance the district’s budget is certainly a crucial one, Settle came off as dispassionate; every time he spoke about serving “the students” or “the children,” it didn’t sound natural, but contrived.

Smeltz, the moderator, raised the question of the students’ commitment to their four-year posts, and their ability to commit to them based on their status as full-time Penn State students. This was especially true in the case of Settle, who only came here upon matriculating to the University, moving from Philadelphia, and will finish his undergraduate program in May (though he will immediately continue his master’s program at Penn State). “I have lived in State College my entire adult life,” he said. “This is my home.” Given that Settle is only 20 years old, his “entire adult life” is a whopping two years.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.

For more coverage of last night’s event, take a look at the videos by William Derrick on

About the Author

Dan McCool

Dan is a senior and has been writing for Onward State since January 2010. Did you miss him? Nah, neither did we. He's returning after a semester abroad in England and will be serving as Arts Editor. Favorite things in life include references to The Big Lebowski.


More by Dan

Erase Your Expectations: Dan McCool’s Senior Column

Don’t worry about what you should be doing, or how what you’re doing is going to fit into the cadre of college—or Penn State, for that matter—predetermined by our culture. Go make your own Penn State, without any expectations; you’ll be much happier.

After Condom Spat, UPUA Approves Funding for Sexual Violence Prevention & Awareness Month

UPUA Is Walking to Harrisburg, Not Much Else


Shea Moyer Lifts Penn State Women’s Soccer Past West Virginia 1-0

Sophomore midfielder Shea Moyer scored the game-winning goal in the 80th minute of a rainy season opener at Jeffrey Field.

Penn State Women’s Soccer Poised For Strong 2018 Season

Incoming Penn State Track & Field Athlete Kristian Marche Shot To Death In Philadelphia

Former Women’s Gymnastics Coach Files Lawsuit Against Penn State Over Handling Of Abuse Allegations

Men’s Soccer Trio, Reading United Win PDL Eastern Conference Title, Fall Short Of National Championship

Student Life

Student Body President Cody Heaton Welcomes Class of 2022 At Convocation

UPUA President Cody Heaton welcomed the incoming Class of 2022 Saturday evening with an inspiring speech.

Start The Semester Off Right With These Welcome Week Activities

Nike Releases New Penn State Sneakers

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love to have you join us.

Student Body President Cody Heaton Welcomes Class of 2022 At Convocation

UPUA President Cody Heaton welcomed the incoming Class of 2022 Saturday evening with an inspiring speech.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Assessing Penn State’s Front Seven Following Tuesday’s Medical Retirements

Penn State’s defensive line rotation will be shaken up following Ryan Buchholz’s medical retirement from football, while the coaching staff is letting the linebackers duel it out during camp.

Send this to a friend