Why vote for John Barbor?
John Barbor is a partner in the law firm Barbor, Sottile & Darr, of Indiana, and said he considered running for school board in the past but resisted because his wife, Gretchen, is a teacher at the senior high school. This year, Gretchen Barbor is retiring, and John Barbor has chosen to run for a two-year term on the board.
“I think I do bring a good mix of skill and experience. I’m a lifelong resident of Indiana and a graduate of the school district. Because my wife has worked 35 years as a teacher I have had more exposure to the life of the district than many people.”
On balancing the budget with revenue increases and spending cuts:
“I think the board has done a very good job the past couple of years in eliminating unnecessary or avoidable spending. But I also suspect that most if not all of the fat is gone, and from here on out, when we cut spending, we’re affecting muscle and bone.”
Barbor said the impending reassessment of property in Indiana County will be a factor.
While the reassessment will be revenue neutral for the district, some property owners will pay less and others will pay more.
“A reassessment is going to shock a lot of people. … (and) It is something that is going to have a major effect on how the district raises money.”
On where to spend or save money:
“Preserving and improving the quality of programs. The school district’s primary purpose has to be educating its students, by providing them with the best possible teachers and programs. If you have to sacrifice things, quality of programming should be the last thing to go.
“There are serious questions about physical maintenance of the district’s buildings. There is the lingering question, ‘can we afford to have four elementary schools?’
“I’d love to keep the schools open, but if it comes to a choice between keeping all four elementary schools open and seriously compromising the K through 12 quality programs for the district — if that is the choice, I will close the school. When one of our students applies to a college or university or applies for a job, those schools or employers are going to want to know what skills they acquired, what classes they took. No one is going to ask whether that student walked to elementary school.”
On academic priorities:
“I strongly believe that in the 21st century, you need strong science, math and technical education. I also strongly believe that an education that does not include the traditional humanities does not create a fully educated person.
“Educational decisions are being driven by testing requirements imposed from above, from both the state and federal government. And those tests directly concern only a limited body of skills. So there is a great temptation to emphasize those skills at the expense of other things. I think it’s a temptation we need to avoid.”
On influencing the state of education:
“Speaking purely personally, and I don’t want to fly under a false flag here — I’m not ashamed to show my true colors.
“I have a personal interest in music, theater, art, and I think if I were elected, one of the things I would do is serve as an advocate for those programs on the board. ... But I also realize that at a time when there is not enough money to do everything you want to do, the burden has to be shared. I would hope to be an advocate without being a fanatic.”