Three Candidates Emerge for Keystone Board Amid Mask Mandate Controversy
KNOX BOROUGH, Pa. (EYT) – Three candidates are hoping to win write-in campaigns for seats on the Keystone School Board as a response to the district’s enforcement of the statewide mask mandate in K-12 schools.
(Pictured above: Jason Say speaks while Buck Weaver and Jason McMillen look on.)
During a meeting at the Knox Volunteer Fire Department on Tuesday, October 12, Jason Say, Buck Weaver, and Jason McMillen presented themselves as the three anti-mandate candidates and stated they will fight the mandate if elected.
“The board has made it plainly obvious they don’t care,” Say told exploreClarion.com. “They’re digging their heels in, and it doesn’t matter what we say. More or less, they’re going to do what the state wants them to do.”
The candidates are running in the following regions:
Jason Say – Licking/Callensburg/Beaver
Buck Weaver – Elk/Ashland/Shippenville
Jason McMillen – Salem/Knox
According to Say, they are running for the school board in large part to “restore local power.”
“My number one goal is to bring control back to the local level,” he said. “Why do we even have a school board if we’re going to let the Wolf run it. Heck, we’ll just turn it over to the state.”
Say said current school board members and other individuals he conversed with have asked him why he does not take his and other Keystone parents’ frustrations over the mask mandate to local politicians like Rep. Donna Oberlander (R – Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) or directly to Harrisburg.
“What they want to do, is they want to push it off on everybody else,” Say argued. “It’s not us. Our hands are tied, our hand are tied, yet there’s 40 different school districts across the state that are standing up.
“I firmly believe things start at the local level. This is where our power is.”
One of the candidates’, and audience’s, largest concerns was mandated vaccinations for students.
Though Pennsylvania has not mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for students or teachers in public schools, Say sounded sure a mandate would be coming and that Keystone would move to enforce that mandate.
“We have a vaccine mandate coming in a month,” Say mentioned. “What are we going to do? I said, ‘You guys (the school board) are lacking the vision.’ If you can’t deal with this mask mandate, what are you going to do when this vaccine mandate comes? That is my biggest concern. For my kids, you’re freaking nuts. There’s no way I’m getting my kids that shot.”
(Pictured above: Buck Weaver.)
Meet the Candidates
Buck Weaver introduced himself to the audience as a representative of the common man.
“Look in the mirror people, he said. “That’s Buck Weaver. That’s it.”
Weaver said he is a small business owner and because of his experience, knows what to expect from government regulation.
“I’m a small business owner,” Weaver said, “and anybody that’s a small business owner knows the government has their foot in their throat anyways. I’m used to this.”
Jason McMillen presented himself as a member of the community.
“I’m just a guy that’s a public servant, a member of the fire company for 25 years, and treasurer of the baseball association. I’m a lifelong resident of Knox.”
(Pictured above: Jason McMillen.)
One of the most prominent issues addressed at the meeting was cyber school.
Say said ultimately, whether a parent pulls their kid from Keystone and places them in a cyber school is ultimately an individual choice.
However, he strongly argued Keystone’s in-house virtual learning program is substandard, and that there are better options for parents.
“They know it’s a failing program,” Say said. “They know 60 percent of the kids were failing last year, yet they still try to do it to keep the money in the district. That’s wrong. They don’t want you to know that you have other choices.
“If Keystone wants to keep their students they need to provide a better product, flat out.”
Say also addressed the criticism of his cyber school position that argues they are purposefully pulling their kids out of in-person learning to cause the district financial harm.
“No, we are not trying to shut the school down,” he emphatically stated. “We’re trying to keep the school up and running and have a long-term vision for this school.”
Potential Fourth Candidate
During the meeting, the idea of running a fourth candidate against John Slagle, President of the Keystone School Board, who is up for reelection in November was discussed.
Say was against the idea as he believes Slagle will be on the anti-mandate side if the school board has to vote on a vaccine mandate.
“It really appeared to me Mr. Slagle was trying,” said Say. “He’s told me he will in no shape or form vote for the vaccine mandate.”
Say said Slagle had urged the Keystone School Board to table the mask mandate enforcement motion at the last school board meeting on October 11 and to keep tabling the motion indefinitely.
“He said, “‘I want to just keep tabling it. We’ll table it for another week and keep tabling it.'”
“Is he promoting anything within that group to get something changed?” an audience member asked about Slagle and his position on the mask mandate. “I would feel better if he’s bringing something up in there to try and stop it, but I’m not seeing anything.”
“All I really know is he told me he was trying to encourage them, get the table in,” replied Say. “He was working in that manner. I know there’s times where you know, ‘I can say all I want, but there’s seven people against me, I’m talking to a wall.’ I felt he was doing what he thought he could get them to do.”
Ultimately, it was decided to not run a candidate against Slagle for school board.
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