Letter to the Editor: Teaching, not building, means the most
Glad to see today the Gazette print a second story reflecting viewpoints of others attending Monday’s school board meeting. A recent article made no mention of the number of citizens in attendance, eight who spoke during public comment all opposed to the school project and debt, including one mother who reported having to take a second job just to pay her taxes, which doubled last year.
Omitted also then was the fact that a petition was presented with more than 150 signatures of Indiana business owners opposed to higher taxes for new debt/school that may jeopardize their livelihoods given Indiana County’s stagnant economy.
Superintendent Dale Kirsch clearly supports the new school and is well aligned with at least six members of the board who are or have family members receiving tax-financed salaries, benefits and pensions. Unfortunately the board appears to favor Indiana County’s highest income earners. After painting a dismal budget picture which included stating a $2.8 billion state deficit and that Indiana is like all Pennsylvania schools facing financial challenges, Kirsch reviewed how eliminating several teaching positions would save $550,000 and help close the school district’s current $1.7 million shortfall. So why borrow more? Why not pay off current debt for energy efficient renovations invested in 2013 by the board that are due to last for years to come in two schools they now want to close?
Kirsch tried to avoid answering a follow-up question on meeting topics asking if the proposed debt for the new school affected decisions to eliminate teaching positions. Kirsch did not respond. Ms. Leeper asked how citizens could have such questions answered as the board currently does not respond to citizens’ inquiries at meetings. Kirsch reluctantly offered to discuss with the individual after the meeting, which met with audience members’ complaining they also wanted to hear the answer. Pressed by public outcry, Kirsch admitted “yes,” it affected the “short” term.
Of course, citizens know there are long-term consequences from eliminating teaching positions and incurring a new $32 million debt compounded for decades.
Ms. Cuccaro and Mr. Schroth continue to plead for what really is best in educating Indiana’s young elementary children and call for the board to show financial restraint and accountability representative of the majority of hardworking taxpayers struggling to pay bills and take care of families. Most people sincerely interested in childhood education would prefer our limited resources be spent on teaching rather than a new school structure.
Donna J. McCoy