Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Letter to the Editor: Sparsely filled Eisenhower, Horace Mann

on January 24, 2014 11:00 AM

The new realignment of elementary grades as announced by the Indiana Area School District will greatly reduce the required number of classrooms in the two borough schools for fourth- and fifth-graders.

The board will have suddenly increased the number of undercapacity enrollment schools from one (middle school, 54 percent capacity) to three (Horace Mann, of fourth-graders, 61 percent capacity; and Eisenhower, 65 percent capacity).

No for-profit business could afford to have one-half of its buildings so little used.

Administration, utilities and maintenance costs are just as large at 60 percent as they are at 90 percent.

Any business would take action immediately to rectify this situation, whereas a school district can just keep raising taxes and hope for more public funds from state and federal taxes. Indiana Area has done this for three years.

Board, remember how smoothly the sixth- and ninth-grade moves went? Moving the fifth grade could go just as smoothly and have the following effects:

• Allow the closing of one elementary building, keep the realignment and then have only one undercapacity building instead of three.

• Mothball the elementary building closed if a sudden surge of children hits the district.

• Forgo a 4-plus millage increase in taxes as contemplated for 2014, since a building closing will save approximately $1 million

• Students in the 10-11 age group are more attuned to 12- to 14-year-olds rather than the current 6- to 9-year-old associates.

• All fifth- through eighth-grade students will be taught by certified middle school teachers rather than elementary certified teachers

• The cost per student instruction will decrease 8 percent in the middle school by increased enrollment.

Any combination of East Pike, Ben Franklin and Eisenhower or Horace Mann or Ben Franklin, Eisenhower and Horace Mann will satisfy the classroom requirements for elementary students pre-K through fourth grade.

Board members, why do Indiana Area taxpayers have to endure 3 to 4 mill increases each year when a plan can easily be instituted to reduce millage 3 to 4 mills each and every year by closing a building?

William S. Balint


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