Indiana, PA - Indiana County

BILL BALINT: Plan would save Indiana $1 million a year

on May 31, 2013 11:00 AM

I was delighted to read in the May 14 Gazette that the superintendent of the Indiana Area School District presented the board an option to close an elementary school — in my opinion, the only viable option of the three presented.

However, the option did not include moving the fifth grade to the middle school. This is very short-sighted because:

1) Moving this fifth grade would free up 10 classrooms in the four schools. The schools already have 11 unused classrooms, and having 21 unused classrooms makes the closing of one school a slam-dunk.

2) The middle school is quite capable of holding the fifth grade. It is the most under-capacity of all the district buildings.

3) Fifth-graders have matured enough to be akin to sixth- to eighth-graders in lieu of K-2 grades. Remember how well the sixth- and eighth-grade moves were made, thanks to the principals and teachers involved.

4) Three elementary schools will easily provide for K-4 within the district classroom sizes, and K-4 is not an experiment when 45 districts in Pennsylvania have K-4 elementary and 5-8 middle schools.

5) The $1 million now spent each year for a building’s brick and mortar will be a budget reduction for every year henceforth.

Since the 2011-12 year with the move of the sixth and ninth grades, we have failed to achieve the budget reduction three times. What a shame, since I know $3 million more in the school budget would have better pleased taxpayers.

The nature of the article leaves little doubt that the yearly increase to the budget because of pension payments and increasing salaries and benefits is quickly becoming beyond the board’s only increasing millage, and something must be done quickly. Study hard on this issue, board.

I have other thoughts to increase the savings several hundred thousands more if a committee is interested.

Bill Balint


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