IASD CANDIDATE: John Uccellini
Why vote for John Uccellini?
Uccellini is retired after working 31 years in the Indiana Area School District as a mathematics teacher and the mathematics curriculum coordinator.
“This was not on my bucket list of things to do when I retired. My three children have all gone on through the system and gone on to be wonderful adults. I feel I have an obligation to give back to the community that has been so good to me and my family.”
Uccellini said his background in teaching and administration give him the perspective to see the overall impact of board decisions on teachers and students.
On balancing the budget with revenue increases and spending cuts:
“We’re victims of what the Legislature has given to us and the governor’s budget. In my mind, the most important thing is to maintain the quality programs that we have.
“Certainly we’ve been able to add to programs, and to increase the contribution to the education side would be nice, but it is difficult to even maintain what we have.
“The decisions this next board will make are, ‘what are we willing to sacrifice in order to maintain or expand areas where we need to put additional resources?’ I don’t have the answer for it. I think it’s going to require collaboration between the community, the administration and the board.”
On where to spend or save money:
“If you look at the last 10 years, we have used attrition to reduce the number of teachers as our student population has gone down … and still maintain the programs that we have. I think we’re reaching a tipping point where that’s no longer going to be the case. The easy cuts have been done already.”
Uccellini said the district will see more sharing of resources, such as teachers working in more than one building.
The board also must decide how to improve safety.
“The discussion has primarily been about providing more cameras, security ... and police protection.
“What gets lost in that discussion is providing the safety nets within the school system.
“We are fortunate to have a school psychologist, although on a part-time basis, but to have that resource available to work with students who are in crisis is a school safety issue, in my mind.
“Having counselors in all of our buildings is a school safety issue.”
On academic priorities:
Uccellini said the district needs to maintain the strong academic program that has allowed students to win large numbers of awards and scholarships.
“We have a theater program and we have an orchestra, and only two schools in the region have an orchestra. And it’s those arts programs — theater, drama, performing arts, and creative arts — that also help create a well-rounded program. …
“To lose those programs would be a detriment to this district.”
Uccellini said he also supports a stronger early childhood education program and maintaining athletic opportunities for students.
On influencing the state of education:
“One of the things I’m very proud of is that I had a hand in the start of Indiana’s online learning program, IDEAL.
“Not only has … the district has been able to capture some lost funds, it opens so many opportunities to students.”