Why vote for Walter Schroth?
“One of the hallmarks of our democracy is the willingness of people to make sacrifices.
“We need candidates to step up to make a difference in all areas of government and public service. So there’s a patriotic duty aspect of this that I think is important,” he said.
On balancing the budget with revenue increases and spending cuts:
“The state is not going to bail us out, and the Fed is not going to bail us out. It’s going to be up to the school districts … to figure this out on their own.
“And local taxpayers have limits as to what they will tolerate.”
Schroth said the district must explore naming rights and advertising, including online, to bring in new money.
“The traditional sources are tapped out. New sources have to be developed,” he said.
Where to spend or save money:
“We cut $1.5 million this year. That was essentially the low-hanging fruit.
“It was stuff that we could tweak relatively easily without delving into employee costs.”
Schroth said the district can’t rely on vacant teaching positions to save money, because the remaining teachers cannot take on additional classes.
He also said the district cannot award pay raises at past rates in the next teacher contract.
“If we do it, we have to do it with less teachers. Somehow we have to craft next year’s contract in such a way, because we have done about all the cutting we can do to ensure our long-term financial viability.”
On the board’s priorities in the next two years:
Schroth said the district needs to prepare students for the jobs that will be available.
“The Indiana County Manufacturing Consortium will tell you that jobs in manufacturing are not the ones that people’s grandfathers had.” Most will require advanced levels of math, communication and technology skills.
The district also must “maintain the enrichment programs in the arts, music and athletics.
“To do that is going to take money.
“And I see the two as being absolutely positively connected.”
On academic priorities:
“Yes, there are jobs out there in the arts and in athletics. … But the high-paying jobs of today and tomorrow are going to be ones that are STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics) related.”
But Schroth said some of the STEM jobs also will require arts skills and others will demand robotics education — leading to the acronyms STEAM and STREAM.
“Whichever way you look at it, it is all headed toward science and math. However … if you are really going to be successful, it’s going to involve innovation and that comes from the art, the creativity that people usually experience when they’re involved in various forms of the arts.”
Schroth defended the committee system used by the school board, and said board members get a deeper understanding of issues and directors’ expertise “rises to the top” in that system.
It allows directors “more one-on-one time” with administrators and teachers, helping them understand the district’s programs, he said.
Committee meetings also give residents more chances to share their thoughts and ideas with the board and administration.