Indiana, PA - Indiana County

BOB GONGAWARE: Indiana board committed to responsibilities

on September 06, 2013 11:00 AM

I would like to set the record straight concerning several statements in a recent letter about the Indiana Area school board.

According to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, chief among the board’s responsibilities are “to improve the educational program, provide adequate and effective personnel, maintain educationally efficient school facilities, and to secure adequate financial resources.”

This board has been diligent in pursuing those objectives.

Our role in hiring teachers is from the global point of view and is budgetary in nature. We authorize the administration to fill positions; it falls to the administration to screen, interview, select and recommend a candidate, sometimes from hundreds of candidates.

The process can be rigorous and lengthy because as financial stewards of a district where starting salaries and benefits are often in excess of $80,000, we’re investing in 30-year resources with lifetime earnings of more than $2 million. We simply have to get this right.

As the recommendations were brought forward, the board acted on them as promptly as possible. This included scheduling an additional meeting in August to finish the work.

As to educational programs, this district went more than a decade without a new math curriculum — well beyond recommended curriculum cycles.

This board approved and fully funded a new math curriculum, which will align subject presentation more closely with Common Core and the Keystone exams.

The financial commitment that this board made to the ESCO project assures that the district will have safe, warm and dry school facilities. The work has included new roofs on most district buildings, improved insulation, new boilers and ventilator units, new energy-efficient lighting, reduced infiltration, fresh air and energy recovery. Expected energy savings from these projects are more than $300,000 annually.

We are committed to replacing the floor tiles in the elementary schools. However, the work could not be safely completed without jeopardizing the completion time of the other ESCO and building upgrades already under way. Let me emphasize that the danger from these tiles lies in the removal process and not their continued use. Their replacement is our top construction priority for summer 2014.

This board has been committed to academic excellence and fiscal responsibility. We have added faculty, funded curriculum and building renovations and reduced operating expenses by 3 percent, while maintaining current programs. There is nothing political about our agenda — we’re here to support the academic excellence of our students and fulfill the district’s mission statement.

Bob Gongaware

finance chair, Indiana Area school board

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