Large, diverse list of candidates seeks WPIAL board of directors seat

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Monday, April 5, 2021 | 4:30 AM


This year’s ballot for electing new WPIAL board members has the largest and most diverse list of candidates in recent memory, executive director Amy Scheuneman said.

In all, 16 school administrators were on the ballot this spring for one of the 10 at-large seats on the 19-person board. Online voting ended March 26. Results are announced April 14 at the WPIAL Annual Meeting.

At-large members serve one-year terms.

Since Scheuneman was promoted as the WPIAL’s top administrator last summer, she has expressed a desire to better diversify the board. This year’s ballot included three minority candidates: Beaver athletic director Alan Alcalde, Winchester Thurston athletic director Cedric Brown and Woodland Hills athletic director Ron Coursey, an incumbent.

But along with added racial and ethnic diversity, Scheuneman noted that this year’s candidates represented a varied group of schools, both in enrollment and location.

“That’s important to get a feel for the whole league,” she said. “From any regard, we like to see involvement from our schools. We’ve asked for that, so I think there’s been a response. … There have been years where it’s just the incumbent candidates (on the ballot). This year, having 16 on the ballot to select 10 is a good thing. People have a choice to decide who they want to represent them.”

Each member school has a vote.

The increased number of candidates wasn’t a coincidence. Scheuneman said the WPIAL office sent information to schools multiple times before the election, encouraging administrators to apply and explaining the process.

“You reach out to people who’ve said they want to get involved and say, ‘Hey, this is an opportunity,’” she said. “We can’t guarantee anybody makes it on (the board), but making an effort to be included in the voting process is important.”

Joining Coursey, Alcalde and Brown on the ballot were:

• Hopewell principal Michael Allison

• New Brighton assistant principal Robert Budacki

• Peters Township athletic director Brian Geyer

• Mars athletic director Scott Heinauer

• Moon athletic director Ron Ledbetter

• Seneca Valley athletic director Heather Lewis

• North Hills superintendent Patrick Mannarino

• West Allegheny athletic director Dave McBain

• Fox Chapel athletic director Michael O’Brien

• Brentwood principal Jason Olexa

• Trinity athletic director Ricci Rich

• Baldwin athletic coordinator John Saras

• Chartiers Valley assistant superintendent Scott Seltzer

In years past, the ballot was essentially a list of names — some more well-known than others. This year, to improve the voting process, Scheuneman included a brief paragraph about every candidate.

“People could look at that before they voted,” she said, “instead of just seeing a name on the paper.”

Two at-large board members did not seek reelection: Serra Catholic athletic director Bill Cleary and Mt. Pleasant principal Ken Williams.

Coursey, Allison, Heinauer, Lewis, Mannarino, McBain, O’Brien and Seltzer are incumbent members. Seltzer is board president, Mannarino is vice president and Allison is treasurer. Geyer currently serves on the board as an appointed member representing athletic directors and now seeks an at-large seat.

There are nine board members who represent specific constituencies such as athletic directors, school boards, superintendents and game officials. Those seats do not appear on the ballot.

Since joining the WPIAL administration, Scheuneman has modernized aspects of the WPIAL. For example, the league launched its first Twitter account two summers ago. In continuing those technological advances, this year’s election was held entirely online. That eliminated the need for mailing paper ballots to schools.

Close to 90 schools responded, which was similar to years past, said Scheuneman, who’s optimistic the number might increase in the future.

Another benefit to moving online was fewer discarded ballots. In the past, if a school voted for too many or too few candidates, the paper ballot wasn’t counted. Now, with an online format, schools can’t accidentally vote for the wrong number of candidates.

“There weren’t a ton of them,” Scheuneman said, “but there were a handful every year that didn’t count.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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