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By Rosa Mercado

Monday, October 29, 2001

All but two candidates have relatives within the district or running for election.
STRUTHERS -- School board President Joseph Edwards and fellow board member Eleanor Polis are banking on their experience and their ideas for the future to save their seats from four challengers.
But the retirement of Ron Carcelli assures the district will have at least one new board member.
Challengers are Matthew M. Rhoads, Linda Thomas, Anthony M. Gentile Sr. and Kandace B. Hagendorn.
Rhoads, whose wife, Susan, is a secretary with the middle school, is running on a platform of financial responsibility.
"I want to make my financial expertise and managerial skills available to the Struthers school system," said Rhoads, who earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from Youngstown State University.
Proficiency tests: Thomas agrees on the aspect of fiscal responsibility, but also said the district needs to make improvements on proficiency test scores. Struthers met only 16 of 27 state performance standards. It ranks 10th among 14 other districts in Mahoning County.
Thomas' husband, Alan, is an elementary school principal within the district.
Gentile doesn't have any relatives employed in the district, but his sister-in-law Eleanor Polis is a school board incumbent.
Hagendorn and Edwards have no family ties in this election.
Gentile said he'd like to improve educational programs, update bus maintenance and routing schedules and promote scholarship funding for pupils.
Hagendorn approves of standardized testing because it creates accountability and said much of the board's focus should be on curriculum.
Athletics: One of Polis' goals, aside from expanding educational programs, focuses on revamping athletic facilities.
Polis, who served as chairperson for the board's building and ground's subcommittee, hopes to follow a phase-in plan developed by the subcommittee that calls for relocating the practice field, constructing new bleachers at the football field and adding a new weight training facility, locker room and athletic offices.
"A current potential funding source is refinancing of Struthers Middle School bonds at a new low-interest rate and redirecting savings to finance this project," she said.
Edwards, who took his current position as board president two years ago, said he uses objectivity in deciding each case.
"I don't think it's healthy for me or anyone to come to the school district with a cause," he said.
He does, however, want to focus on further development of curriculum and staff.