INDIANA AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT: Crowded ballot has 10 running for 5 seats
May 08, 2013 11:00 AM
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The race for Indiana Area School District board of directors this year is full of possibilities.

Exactly twice the number of candidates as available seats will appear on the May 21 ballot. All have cross-filed for the Democratic and Republican nominations, meaning that every candidate could advance to the general election if the results of the two party races are mutually exclusive.

But whenever candidates have cross-filed, there exists the possibility that the same ones could win nominations from both parties and virtually wrap up their election to the board in the fall — notwithstanding a successful write-in or sticker campaign by anyone choosing to run such a challenge in the next five months.

The Indiana board is guaranteed to have at least two new members when the election winners are seated in December.

Incumbents Alison Billon (three terms) and David Ferguson (one term) have opted not to run for re-election.

The board also could have a maximum of five new members.

Board member Robert Werner was named in 2012 to replace Terry Ray, who resigned only six months into his term, and is only permitted to serve until the next municipal election. He is a candidate to complete the remaining two years of Ray’s original term. John Barbor is the only challenger running for the two-year term.

Directors Diana Paccapaniccia, a former president of the board, and Walter Schroth, the current board vice president, are seeking election to their third terms on the board. Both were elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009.

The challengers for full four-year terms are Deborah Clawson, Julia Trimarchi Cuccaro, Danica Jackson, Eric Palmer, Douglas Steve and John Uccellini. Steve served one term on the board from 2007 to 2011.

For their series of profiles published today in the Gazette, the candidates were asked about their positions on school district spending and academic priorities, and given the chance to talk about other issues they hope to address if elected.

With the assumption that about 80 percent of school district spending is locked in through labor contracts and government mandates, and that those figures grow because of inflation and other reasons, the candidates were asked how they would manage the programs and expenses under school board control: whether by finding new money to maintain programs, or to cut programs and maintain total expenses.

Within the realm of school board control, the candidates are asked, what areas should be preserved or improved and which areas would they consider for reductions?

Considering only academics — the first order of business for a school district — the candidates were asked to prioritize the subject areas that they believe should be given more emphasis.

Beyond managing finances and assuring the students’ education, the candidates were invited to identify other matters of business that would demand the school board’s attention, and to name the issues that they personally want to influence if they are elected to the school board.

After individually answering questions for this series of profiles in The Indiana Gazette, the candidates for Indiana school board will respond to questions in a public forum at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Indiana Area Senior High School auditorium. The event is sponsored by the Indiana Area Education Association, and each candidate will be given 10 minutes to answer questions prepared by leaders of the teachers union.

Along with summaries of their qualifications and the attributes they feel would make them good school directors, their profiles and positions on the issues appear today in the Indiana County Area News and the Indiana Community News pages on The Indiana Gazette Online.



This story edited at 5 p.m. May 8 to include the name of Julia Trimarchi Cuccaro as a candidates for school board.

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