Indiana, PA - Indiana County

LARRY STADTMILLER: Could this be conflict of interest?

on May 10, 2013 10:59 AM

In my examination of the candidates for school board I have come to the conclusion that having former teachers, spouses of former teachers or members of their families elected to represent taxpayers in contract negotiations is a questionable practice.

It must be difficult for a person to vote to limit their pension or salary when it comes to being part of the fiscal discussions. I know the candidates believe they would be impartial and vote in the best interests of the district. That would certainly be the ethical thing to do.

I am not in any way suggesting that I have any preconceived notions about the integrity of any of the candidates. I am stating that, in my opinion, one of the most pressing tasks for a board member is dealing with financial matters relative to salaries and benefits.

There are school districts all across the commonwealth that cannot begin to fulfill their obligations toward fixed retirement benefits for teachers and covered employees. I cannot imagine the pressure that will be placed on a school board member to retain current benefits and increasing salary structures.

Will those who are directly or indirectly affected abstain from being part of the procedure when discussing financial matters relative to pay and benefits or will they cast their vote based on peer pressure? If they abstain, how will that affect the process of determining those matters? Doesn’t that leave fewer people with more to do in order to make an informed decision?

From my perspective, we should not elect any person to the school board who in any way has anything to gain financially from the decision-making process of the board, be it salary, pension or other. This is not a reflection on the ethics of any candidate, just a statement of my feelings relative to the election for positions on any school board.

Larry Stadtmiller


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