Indiana, PA - Indiana County

THOMAS R. HARLEY: IASD board has shown strong leadership

on May 14, 2013 11:00 AM

Leadership: The board of IASD has exceptional leaders and I am pleased to be associated with them.

It is absolutely true that the current board has spent $16.8 million repairing our school buildings. Leaking roofs, ancient boilers, asbestos and inefficient lighting systems have no place in the educational environment of our children. This fall the roofs will not leak and the heating systems will be fully functional. The high school will finally have an adequate heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) system. Across the district some 30,000 light bulbs have been replaced and hundreds of plumbing fixtures have been improved. The HVAC systems will have a unified digital energy management system overseeing them and reducing our utility costs. The computers in the high school and junior high will be replaced.

This ESCO work has been financed, in part, by an annual energy savings of more than $300,000. Under the current plan the district’s entire bond debt will be retired within 15 years.

This work by the Buildings and Grounds/ESCO Committee by itself is a remarkable achievement. Add to it the yeoman work that the Academic Committee has done with curriculum and early start transitions and the Finance Committee has done by removing some $1.6 million from last year’s initial budget while improving our bond rating.

The Policy and Personnel Committee is rolling out the first major revision to the IASD policy manual in more than two decades while at the same time playing a leading role in replacing our retiring administrators.

And there is much left to do. We must improve student outcomes for all students; we must weather the financial storm that we are the midst of without the expectation of any help from Harrisburg or Washington.

Make no mistake, this election is about who will sit at the table to negotiate the labor contracts next summer. These contracts hold the key to 80 percent of our expenditures and will affect the financial and academic health of the district long into the future. There is no “them” or “us”; “we” are all in this together and must make agreements that are fair, sustainable and in the best interests of our children.

These problems may not be of our making but it will fall to us to persevere. We must do better and we must succeed; 2,700 students are depending on us, as we will be dependent on them.

Thomas R. Harley, M. Arch, RA

Indiana Area school board president

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