Frequently Asked Questions

Why did you decide to run?

I’ve been interested in school policy since high school. In fact, while I was a student at West Mifflin Area High School, I created a student representative position on the board with fellow WMASD alumnus Adam Flore. We served as the inaugural representatives, weighing in on board decisions, serving as liaisons between the board and students, and gaining a thorough understanding of what goes in to serving on a school board.

 

At Slippery Rock University, my interest grew as I closely followed and reported on the university’s Council of Trustee meetings, student government association, and budgeting process as a reporter, assistant news editor, and ultimately editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Rocket.

 

Finally, as I near completion of my Master’s in Education at Point Park University, the call to serve my school district beckons louder than ever. I hope to make a positive impact at West Mifflin and give back to a school district that offered me so much, but that I know has so much more to offer others.

What are your thoughts on New Emerson Elementary closing?

I graduated from New Emerson Elementary School, after transferring from Duquesne in first grade. New Emerson was a community that I felt welcomed in and a place where I could be successful. Deciding whether or not to close a school is a complex decision, bearing emotional, fiscal, and organizational complications. 

We do not know exactly how much this sacrifice could save the district financially. Dr. Hoover claimed it would be $450,000 based on New England when I asked him during the PTA meeting where he discussed this possibility. 

We can only predict what it would cost students in terms of quality of education. As a member of the community, I do not think that the school board has demonstrated a necessity or rational justification for closing the school, a decision that will uproot an established environment that is performing well, increase class sizes for students currently attending the school (the opposite practice for good school reform), and fails to address the long-term issues facing the district.

I believe in making educated decisions using facts. As such, here are some documents you may want to review to decide what you think about the decision to close the school:

How do you feel the situation with the superintendent should have been handled?

I wrote about this in the Post Gazette a few months ago and stand by what was expressed in that editorial. I am strongly against drinking and driving. However, I am also aware that personal feelings about DUIs cannot legally be the justification for terminating a superintendent. That's why they weren't a part of the hearings, and why it wasn't an open and shut case.

When the board decided to enact the 1080 hearings, they created massive expenses. Even as late as June 2019, expenses were still being added to the 6-digit cost! The decision also added an extra burden on the administration and staff by removing a position (and the highest ranking position at that) and leaving a heavy workload to be picked up. Jumping into something like this with no plan or solid legal case hurt taxpayers fronting the bill, it hurt educators and administrators, and ultimately it hurt the education of students. It is not a good situation any way you look at it, but if I were on the board, my first concern would have been to diminish the impact to students' educations with the least cost to the community. I do not think that was done. As we move forward as a district, I hope to put the focus back on education and the many other topics that need to be addressed in West Mifflin.

What are your goals if elected?

Most of all, I hope to bring a sound mind and good judgment to the decisions being made by the board. I consider myself open to many ideas, empathetic, and respectful of what others think. In terms of the district itself, it is necessary to assess what we are offering students, if those things are actually being conveyed to the public and the students by the schools, and how we can improve. More about my goals can be found on the “Platform” and "Ideas" pages of the website.

What would you change about board meetings?

I would like to see public comment permitted during work sessions, as essentially every other school district in the area allows. All members of the community should have the opportunity to voice thoughts and opinions on any matter related to the district and what the school board is voting on with ample time to ensure what they say matters and has the ability to make a difference.

 

I am also surprised it has taken so long to get meetings broadcast for the public and that it has been essentially removed from discussion by the board after the district solicitor dismissed the idea as too costly to pursue based on personal experience. Further, I would hope to get draft agendas published on the district website in advance of the board meeting taking place. Having them available to the public only minutes before the meeting begins is a disservice to their importance.

 

In general, I am passionate about getting the public involved in the decisions the board is making. They should have access to the information, as much opportunity as possible to make meaningful comments and remarks to the board, and the accessibility to follow what the board is doing, even if not physically at a meeting.

Additional Questions? Just Ask

KEVIN SQUIRES FOR SCHOOL BOARD 2019

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