In 2021, hundreds of new school board members were elected across the state and began their four year term. This December marks the one year anniversary for those new board members. I reached out to a number of newly elected board members and asked them to share some of their experiences since taking office.

Today, we’re spotlighting Roberta “Bobbi” Mansell. Bobbi is a school board director serving the Blackhawk School District in Beaver County.

1. What have you enjoyed the most about being a school board director?

The opportunity to make a difference locally for our taxpayers and students.

2. What surprised you the most when you joined the board?

Truly how much was involved in running one small school district with only four buildings! Public education as a government entity has proven to me that things are done (and have always been done) in a completely inefficient, costly, wasteful manner.

3. What do you like the least about being a school board member?

See above — it takes forever to get one change accomplished. One policy change is a battle. The “opposition” is brutal, bullying, deceiving, and manipulative. The very people (Superintendent and administration) we rely on for information cannot be trusted to provide accurate information.  

4. How much time do you spend monthly on board duties? 

Between meetings, committees, and phone calls, upwards of 60–80 hours per month. Too much!

5. Do you have school-age children? 

No. My two are adults, 28 and 30.

6. If yes, do they attend the district where you serve?

They did.

7. Knowing what you know now, would you have still run for office last year?

Yes! Do I hate it at times and regret that decision? Absolutely! It’s just so overwhelming at times, but I never give up!

8. Do you think you will run again when your term is over?

I will make that decision in 2024; I will not predict at this time.

9. Were you welcomed to the board by other board members?

All but two members.

10. How much communication do you have with your constituents?

It was very little this year, but that’s about to change. We have a newsletter going out in about a month. The idea was not liked and was a battle to push through, but we prevailed. It will go out to 7,500 taxpaying households in the district.

11. Anything else you would like to share?

I believe we were successful in winning the majority in the 2021 elections due to the financial support we received that pushed our campaigns over the top. Four of us ran as a slate and we won. We will need financial support in the future to keep this ball rolling.

Beth Ann Rosica holds a Ph.D. in Education and has dedicated her career advocating on behalf of underserved children and families. She owns a consulting business and lives with her family in West Chester, Pa.

4 thoughts on “School Board Series: Roberta “Bobbi” Mansell — Blackhawk School District, Beaver County”

  1. Thank you for this continuing and informative series. The dedication of these unpaid elected officials is great to see

  2. This is a joke! The current board majority including Ms. Mansell has no clue how to run a school district and manage the many issues it is facing. In fact, she and her co board members have created more problems and spent so much money unnecessarily it is putting the district into harms way. They are not student centric in any way. She actually admits in this article they bought the election and were not elected based on any knowledge or experience. She also readily admits in writing distrust of school administration and other board members which does not bode well for working together towards common goals for the students. And it shows. Their so called newsletter was a rag of election propaganda. If you are thinking of moving to Beaver County, steer clear of Blackhawk while she is in charge.

    1. Looking at the archived board meeting minutes and working session minutes as well as the most recent set of audited financials for the district there seems to be effective overall management. In fact, controlling for the assessment of the district’s portion unfunded teacher pension liability that actually is borne by the Commonwealth, there has been an increase in the net position of the district. Of course, there may be more to the story, but financially, the school district is doing OK, and the business of the district is being dispatched at the board meetings.

      1. And to be fair, the audited financials were for the 2020-2021 school year. This was before the new majority control mentioned by Beth. These past successes were largely thanks to the superintendent, whom this board opposes, and the previous board.

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