Letter to the Editor: There's nothing funny about school plan
April Fool’s Day has come and gone, but not without the continued high jinks of the Indiana Area School Board. The latest tricks undertaken by the majority of the board involved turning an academic committee meeting into a confounding rejection of a compromised plan for the proposed “mega-school” at the Ben Franklin site. With an obstinacy, or arrogance, that continues to perplex, board members lined up to shoot down Mr. Walter Schroth’s plan which would pay off current debt while continuing to use the existing four buildings for elementary education. Heedless to the wisdom of such a proposal, one board member actually used the word “stupid” to describe Schroth’s proposal.
Next came comments criticizing the former board for putting in the ESCO plan which was (and is in effect) to reduce energy use within the district at a great savings over the next several years. That too was alluded to as being stupid.
If examined closely, the architect’s drawings for playground areas for the proposed school are severely limited. Anyone knows that storage sheds for teaching materials cost far less than $40 million. If any current or past administrator has been looking, teachers travel between all buildings for certain subject areas.
Not once in that committee meeting did one board member offer a concrete argument about how a huge new school would improve the academic success of the children of the district. While one board member mentioned more classrooms being available for autistic children, that argument cannot hold weight because anyone in education knows that inclusion is part of the special needs education.
So while these distracting arguments are being put forth, this same board has begun to negotiate for a new teachers’ contract. The current board president has yet to recuse himself from any negotiations, claiming that he is within his legal right to participate even though his wife is a school employee.
He argues this even while knowing that he personally will benefit from any contract agreement.
And this board can very well settle this contract for the next three, four or five years while imposing the mega-school tax burden upon an already strapped group of taxpayers. And so the greatest April Fool’s prank would be that double whammy, all done and tied up before the May primary.
What’s to be done? Continue to attend meetings. Continue to question. And above all, vote in May. A change for the better is our only chance.