A letter Thursday concerning my voting record on the Indiana Area school board contained implied and factual errors. I would like to set that record straight.
I have served the school district, its students and taxpayers for 7 1/2 years and have been a good steward of our resources.
During that period I have worked on seven budget adoptions. I have only voted twice to raise the millage rate (2007, 2012). I voted for no tax increase for two years (2006, 2011); in the three remaining years I voted “no” on tax increases that were eventually adopted (2008-2010).
I also voted “no” on the teachers’ contract approved in 2008 due to its unreasonably high increases of 5 percent per year over four years.
Yes, I did propose that we spend up to $10 million on all of our buildings under my proposed “Operation Get Out of Debt” and to repay our debt in approximately 10 years. These expenditures were to be spread out over all the district’s buildings to make much-needed major repairs and upgrades. As it turned out, the districtwide needs exceeded the $10 million figure I had initially proposed. This was due in part to the fact that Eisenhower and Ben Franklin elementary schools had never had a major renovation since they were built in the 1950s.
In 2012 I chaired the ESCO (Energy Savings) Committee, which, along with the Finance Committee, was directly responsible in developing recommendations concerning the building upgrades currently under way, including the repair of leaking roofs at the senior high and several elementary schools. This work also included upgrades in all our buildings’ HVAC, lighting, water consumption and classroom computer equipment.
As a result, the district borrowed $16.915 million, of which $14.898 million was used in the ESCO project, resulting in an annual savings of $300,000. The remaining $2.017 million was spent on building improvements for academics, building maintenance or student/staff security. The repayment of this debt was funded from two sources: the guaranteed $300,000 annual energy savings and $100,000 from the 2-mill tax increase passed in 2010 to pay for a planned $16 million renovation at the senior high, which I opposed.
As it stands now, the total repayment period for all the district’s debt is 15 years.
All of our schools should be in good shape to keep our students warm, safe and dry for the next 20 years.
Walter A. Schroth
Indiana Area school board