Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Letter to the Editor: Consolidation or deconsolidation

on May 18, 2017 10:58 AM
Saltsburg, PA

Consolidation or deconsolidation. Which word, which process is best for the education of the students of the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District?

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has known the answer to that question for all 500-plus Pennsylvania school districts for a long time. Time and time again, schools in Pennsylvania have turned to consolidation in order to provide the best educational programming, the best student support services and the best use of scarce resources, all to the benefit of students and communities.

A small group of foolhardy Saltsburg residents has relentlessly tried to disprove the rather extensive research literature that clearly shows consolidation wins hands down for the benefit of district’s students and communities when all relevant factors of deconsolidation are taken into consideration.

This group, aka the Petrarca Group, wants to separate the district to form two independent districts. They claim that deconsolidation is the best approach, and that the study they conducted a couple of years ago under the guise of legislative support should be proof enough for the PDE to support the group’s selfish and parochial conclusion that deconsolidation is best.

Since the PDE report became public knowledge, the Saltsburg group has tried its best to discredit the expert Public Financial Management firm employed by the PDE. To the dismay of the local group, PFM was hired to conduct an unbiased and valid study.

The Saltsburg group has used a number of fallacious arguments trying to discount the valid conclusions for consolidation that are found in the report.

The local group is also bullying our teachers and support staff with threats of job loss. How dare the employees come out against deconsolidation? How dare those teachers have views and values different from the Petrarca Group? Let me suggest that it had to be pretty darn easy for our teachers to stand up for the best interests of their students.

Well, enough is enough. The state Legislature is not going to ignore the findings and recommendations of the PDE, no matter how many times someone speaks at a local board meeting or writes a letter to the editor. Consolidation works — deconsolidation does not work. Let’s move forward with what works for our students and our communities. Follow the recommendations of the PDE report and do so as quickly as possible.

John C. Warnick

Saltsburg

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