IASD CANDIDATE: Deborah Clawson
Why vote for Deborah Clawson?
Clawson has served as an elementary school principal, curriculum coordinator, assistant superintendent and five years as superintendent of Indiana Area schools.
“I focus on my qualifications as a citizen. I have been a resident of the district for 40 years and have three children who have gone through the system and are successful adults.
“I have deep roots in Indiana and that helps my perspective of a parent, taxpayer, community member, church and club member. And of course my career was in education, ending here in Indiana.”
On balancing the budget with revenue increases and spending cuts:
“The first line of preference would be increasing revenue, but stating clearly that increasing property taxes is not the avenue.
“Pennsylvania is 42nd of the 50 states in the proportion of state aid to education. … That is an imbalance we have to work together to address.
“In terms of decreased spending, I think any reasonable person would see that is part of the equation. The critical part of being a board member is how you go about that, and what your priorities are.”
On where to spend or save money:
Clawson said the district can save the most money in negotiating its new labor contracts and then by finding “wiggle room” in the annual budget.
“The district has absorbed 30 teaching positions (in recent years) and we were charged with decreasing the budget by $1 million. …But to have that in front of us every year, you start to get to decisions that affect children’s learning.”
Clawson said Indiana County has high numbers of people living in poverty and without high school diplomas, and the greatest diversity in the schools is on the economic scale.
The district’s priority should be to best serve all the students.
“We need to look at the most capable, the struggling student and the ones who need some additional help to get through the system. I think that’s our priority. Not to compete, not to put schools in competition with one another, that is nonproductive.
“But if our priority is the needs of children who are 5 years old and who are 17 years old, then you start to have a discussion that leads to compromise that everyone can live with.”
On academic priorities:
“The governor has given us priorities by the lack of funding. Special education has been flat-funded for five years.
“They assume every district has 16 percent student population with disabilities. Indiana has a higher number of students which are gifted. … And of students for whom English is a second language, we have the largest population of students in that category.
“So the funding that has not followed those programs makes them priorities for us.”
On influencing the state of education:
Clawson said she envisions having the community and parents helping to review practices and procedures, and said the board needs to hire the best qualified teachers.
“I’m not running for this school board because of anything that current or prior boards have decided.
“I’m running because I have enjoyed a year of retirement and as I looked for things to do, I found many, but this attracted me because it is still about my first love, which is the students of the community. That’s the simple truth.”