The Indiana Area school board is going through its usual reprise when it comes to the budget problem — “We must either close or realign schools or dramatically increase taxes.” This is known as a false dichotomy — claiming that a problem has only two possible solutions.
I know from experience how this board operates. The only reason they want to limit the choices to two is because 1) certain interests within the district are considered “untouchable” and 2) an unwillingness to think beyond the practices of the past.
Notice there is no mention by board members that in June 2014 the district’s biggest expense comes up for reconsideration — the teachers’ collective bargaining agreement. Just like the sell-out “negotiation” with the recent administrators’ agreement, where the board, as always, gave them an early Christmas present with a wink and a nod … they are ready to do the same with the teachers next year. Where is the financial crisis when the administrators and teachers are involved?
The board, strangely, believes it is the champion of the administration and the teachers. Strangely, I write, because neither group elects them. They are elected by district residents to represent the best interests of the voters — who pay the bills in the district and whose children attend the district.
The board should be the champions of the area residents and students and keep the employees at arm’s length.
The board has things backward in more ways than one, and, because of this, we pay our teachers and administrators top salaries in the state while the board wants us to believe that only taxes or school cuts can solve our financial problems.
As for their unwillingness to break from the past, every board member has a copy of a rather simple and detailed plan to convert the district from a 180-day calendar year to an hourly calendar year — which would save millions every year without raising taxes or cutting schools.
The board refused to discuss it when it was presented and won’t even mention it as a viable option in the current discussions.
When I was on the board, I asked Tom Harley why it had never come up for discussion. His response was that it was “just too different” for the board. Strange reasoning, huh?