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Name: Matthew Keller
Address: Fawcett Avenue, White Oak
Filed as: Republican/Democratic
Almanac: Why are you running for school board, and what are your qualifications?
Keller: I am running for school board to bring a sense of direction back to he district with a student-first mentality, to support our administration, teachers, and support staff. I want to keep safety and security a top priority. I demand transparency for students, parents and community members.
I am a 2006 graduate of McKeesport Area School District, I went on to get my bachelor of arts from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2012, and completed my paralegal certificate from Duquesne University in 2015.
Almanac: One constant question at board meetings has been about gun violence. Prior to this election, how have you addressed gun-related violence within the community?
Keller: I would look to outside agencies and elected officials on how we can help support them in helping curb gun violence in the community.
Almanac: How do you rate the relationship between the school board, educators, students and families regarding incidents occurring outside of school?
Keller: I think we can always continue to work on the relationships we have between all parties. We need to support each other and continue to have a strong and health relationship with in the communities.
Almanac: What steps can the school board take to ensure safety within schools?
Keller: We can ensure safety by staying on top of issues that need to be addressed. We can look at new technologies and maintain our police force and security staffing to meet our district’s needs. We can be open to outside agencies’ review of our buildings, so we are being proactive in getting issues fixed to ensure a safe learning environment.
Almanac: McKeesport Area has many students whose families are struggling economically and a large percentage of students who are from minority groups. How will you work to understand and meet their diverse needs?
Keller: We need to be able to sit down and listen to our citizens as well as be able to have open and honest discussions about how we can help them out. Personal outreach with any established community groups to make sure we better understand their needs, so that we can address them.
Almanac: What literacy challenges do McKeesport Area students face, and how would you address them?
Keller: As a non-elected board member, I look forward to tackling the literacy challenges by addressing the issue at the pre-kindergarten level and establishing a plan to help students early on so we can ensure they have success as they move through the middle school and high school.
Almanac: What is your opinion of the current math education curriculum, especially at the middle and high school level?
Keller: As a non-elected school board member, I understand that this a top priority, and I will make sure to work with our administration and teachers to ensure we have plans in place that promote our students’ success.
Almanac: What is the role of music, arts and social-studies education?
Keller: These all play an important role in an education. Music and arts provide increased motor skills, critical thinking and inventiveness, which help with academic success; Social-studies prepares our children to become informed citizens in an ever-changing world.
Almanac: Why do some parents choose not to send their children to McKeesport Area schools — and how can the district get them back?
Keller: I think there are many reasons why a parent chooses send their child to a different school. If we are making sure the decisions we make are for what is best for students to be successful, then parents will want to keep their children in our schools.
Almanac: As a board member, where would you look to make budget cuts? Are there any areas you would not consider cutting?
Keller: I would look forward to working to advocate reducing our contribution to Propel (charter) schools and reinvesting it into our students in district.
Originally published May 14, 2023.