Articles & Letters

What is future of Horace Mann school?

• Jul 16, 2017

Horace Mann School was built in 1909 and with other Indiana Area district schools was renovated in 2012-13 with $14.9 million in energy-efficient upgrades. The renovations saved over $652,000 in energy costs.

Architect Vern McKissick, hired by IASD, is currently renovating a 1909 school in Chambersburg.

According to the Chambersburg newspaper, Public Opinion, McKissick formed a partnership with the Franklin County Area Development Corp., which bought the property to transfer it to McKissick Properties. They paid a mere $250,000 for the 131,000-square-foot building.

McKissick was quoted as saying of that school, “It was built to last, with a steel frame covered by 3/4-inch oak under a yellow brick exterior. …

“They found thick black chestnut trusses holding up the roof, baseboards made of 8-inch oak planks and solid oak flooring hiding under asbestos tiles. …

“It has wonderful potential. … Besides the high ceilings; apartments will have kitchen counters made from the old oak counters used in science rooms. Each unit will have a chalkboard. Countertops made from the slate shower stalls removed from the school’s locker room.”

His web page says, “We are constantly looking to identify former schools.”

Now that the megaschool project in Indiana appears dead, will Horace Mann be sold, refurbished or possibly even demolished?

For years great teachers have led our students to earn top marks in academic achievement at Horace Mann School.

I hope Horace Mann, with all of its great teachers, remains as a high performing neighborhood school that kids can walk to!

Larry McCoy


Board leaves start of school as scheduled

• Jul 11, 2017 Updated Jul 12, 2017

Indiana Area school board members kept things simple Monday by agreeing to keep the planned, but unconventional, calendar for the 2017-18 school year.

The school year has been set to start Tuesday, Aug. 22, and to close out before Memorial Day, on Friday, May 25. The plan was to provide a longer summer break in 2018 for construction of a new Ben Franklin Elementary School, a plan that was scrapped June 12 when it failed to meet Pennsylvania Department of Transportation approval for impact on area traffic flow.

With the construction plan canceled, District Superintendent Dale Kirsch suggested going back to a traditional schedule of Monday, Aug. 28, one week before Labor Day, through Friday, June 1.

Kirsch said the later start would give workers more time to complete a parking lot paving project at the senior high school and the average temperatures would be cooler at the end of August.

He said students taking English as a Second Language, who traditionally enroll after Labor Day when their parents arrive for the start of the fall term at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, would miss less class time.

And Kirsch said he had calls and messages from people who asked if the calendar could be returned to normal if the building project did not go through.

School board members said they also received calls and messages, mainly from parents and others who had already rejiggered their plans to comply with what the board had decided in March.

“This would be too disruptive. Families have made plans,” director Diana Paccapaniccia said. She called for the administration to grant excused absences for students whose families have arranged for vacations after May 25.

Board President Doug Steve said he knew of a family that scheduled a wedding for June 2 and expected to have rehearsal on June 1, which would turn into graduation night under the proposed change. Extending the calendar would mean an extra week of day care for some families, he said.

“It’s an added layer of inconvenience,” Steve said.

No one answered “yes” when he called for a voice vote on the change.

The vote included rejection of a proposal to designate Oct. 6, Oct, 9, Jan. 15 and Feb. 19 as full days and May 11 and June 1 as half days for curriculum development under Act 80.

All nine board members voted in favor of other items of business on the brief agenda Monday. The directors:

• Formally rescinded job offers made in June to Jared Moore and Ashley James, who declined the offers.

• Hired Emily Doran as an elementary teacher at an annual salary of $49,732 beginning Aug. 16.

• Accepted the resignation of senior high para-educator Stacey Holdaway and directed the administration to advertise the job opening.

• Hired David Bright as a maintenance worker at an hourly rate of $16 beginning Aug. 5.

• Granted a leave of absence for Ben Franklin Elementary School teacher Laura Lansberry from the start of the school year through Oct. 25.

• Agreed to allow Jeff Reed to attend the Mass Customized Learning Summit in place of Andrew Weaver, from July 16 to 18 in Portland, Maine.

• Approved the attendance of junior high assistant principal Krista Sevajian at the Summit Learning Team Training conference from July 25 to 28 in Arlington, Va., at a cost of $300.

• Approved memoranda of understanding between the district and the Indiana Borough police department and Pennsylvania state police.

The documents “establish procedures to be followed when certain incidents … occur on school property, at any school sponsored activity, or on a conveyance as described in the Safe Schools Act (such as a school bus) providing transportation to or from a school or school sponsored activity. This memorandum does not cover incidents that are outside of those school settings and create no substantial disruption to the learning environment.

“The parties seek to foster a relationship of cooperation and mutual support and to maintain a safe school environment,” according to language in each agreement.

• Ratified a management agreement with Putt Real Estate for rental of a district-owned house at 521 N. Sixth St. The district bought the property in 2012 with the intent of creating a driveway to the senior high school, a plan that has not materialized.

Under the agreement, Putt would be paid the equivalent of one month of rent for securing a lease of up to two years, or a fee equal to two months rent if a tenant signs a lease for three or more years. The agreement also provides 10 percent of the monthly rent to Putt for managing the property, and a 5 percent fee to Putt if a tenant decides to buy the property

Democracy is hard work, but worth it


Aug 6, 2017

Every day when I wake up I am anxious and worried that my great democracy is at risk of ceasing to exist.

I am not naïve enough to think that I am the only that feels this way or that this is the first time that people have felt this way. I think that the feeling of anxiety and fear comes from a place of powerlessness and lack of having a voice that could make an impact, or make a change. How can my one voice do anything?

The answer may be right in front of us, getting involved in some positive way in your community. There are many opportunities: your local political parties, local governing bodies such as townships and borough councils and your local school boards.

When we come together in our community, two things can happen.

First, you can stop feeling powerless because you can participate and be part of change, and you can learn how your local government works and be part of the solution. Second, we can get to know fellow community members. You will often find yourself sitting next to someone you don’t know and on the surface don’t think you can agree on anything, only to find out that you have more in common than you could ever have imagined.

Getting involved in your community is hard work, time consuming and at times frustrating. Democracy is hard work, time consuming and at times frustrating.

When we each individually participate actively in our community, we strengthen our community. As we strengthen our community and our commitment to the place we live and the people we live with, we strengthen our democracy.

When each and every one of us makes that commitment to actively participate in the community, in whatever capacity we are able to, that is how our democracy will be strengthened, continue to succeed, thrive and grow.

Democracy is hard work, but I think we can all agree that it is worth it.

Cookie Moretti

Indiana Community Voice, LLC

P.O. Box 314

Indiana, PA 157015