The governing board of the Indiana Area School District has reached more than a crossroads this year.
More than a compass, more than a map would be needed to help the school board navigate through the many issues converging before them.
Candidates for the school board in the election coming up on Tuesday have talked about the factors they would rely on to guide the district in increasingly challenging times.
More than ever, finances are being balanced against academics. How can the district meet increasing demands for money, led by spiraling pension costs? How can the district not only maintain but improve the ways it educates students and prepares them for successful lives?
How do they do it at the same time?
Five of the nine seats on the board of directors are on the ballot this year. One is to fill the remaining two years of a term that was on the ballot in 2011, and the other four are for full, four-year terms.
Incumbent directors Diana Paccapaniccia and Walter Schroth are running for re-election, while directors Alison Billon and David Ferguson have decided to retire from the board when their terms expire in December.
After cross-filing and running for Democratic and Republican party nominations in the spring primary, next week’s election features Paccapaniccia and Schroth and challengers Deborah Clawson, Julia Trimarchi Cuccaro and John Uccellini running for the four-year terms. John Barbor is unopposed for the two-year term.
Four of the candidates answered district residents’ questions about their philosophies at a candidates’ night forum sponsored this week by the Indiana Foundation for Education, and two others, who could not attend the debate, discussed their positions on the same issues this week with the Gazette.
They were asked for their top ideas for reducing costs and improving education; they answered questions about pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs, the costs of the athletic programs, and the possibility of negotiating lower starting salaries for teachers in the next labor contract.
Summaries of their responses appear here today, to help guide the ultimate decision-makers — Indiana Area School District voters — as they choose the directors to join the others in setting district policies in the coming years.
CANDIDATE: John Barbor
CANDIDATE: Deborah Clawson
CANDIDATE: Julia Trimarchi Cuccaro
CANDIDATE: Diana Paccapaniccia
CANDIDATE: Walter Schroth
CANDIDATE: John Uccellini