By Peter Broad
(Peter Broad is president of the Indiana borough council. He delivered these remarks to the Indiana Area School District Board of Directors during its public comment period on Monday, April 8.)
INDIANA — Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you this evening. I am here as president of the Indiana Borough Council, but also as a resident of the school district, the grandfather of current IASD students, and an educator for more than 40 years.
It sometimes feels as if the borough of Indiana were in a state of constant conflict with the school district when we should be working together for the betterment of our citizens. Tonight you will be considering the dissolution of the recreation commission, which has served our area well for decades.
The borough has agreed to the dissolution, but reluctantly, and only after the school district made it clear that there was no future for it. I sincerely hope we can find a way to avoid disadvantaging our residents too drastically.
BUT WHAT REALLY BOTHERS ME is what seems like an effort by some members of the school board to undermine the work that Indiana borough is doing to try to make Indiana the kind of place where families can live and work and play and enjoy the benefits that come from being part of a genuine community.
We recognize that, with an aging infrastructure, shifts in retail models, and a shrinking population, we face real challenges. We are doing what we can to counteract those tendencies.
We have a recently instituted plan to help families buy houses in the borough. We have developed a long-range plan and begun to receive grants to fix our stormwater and sanitary sewer systems. We are building new sidewalks. We are connecting the borough to the recreation opportunities afforded by the county parks and trails.
However, one of the strongest attractions that the borough of Indiana has for families, one of the things that make us a truly livable community — rare in this area — is the presence of neighborhood schools.
Some people clearly find attractions to living in the suburbs or in the country. But those of us who choose to live as part of a functioning community value the attractions of being close to work, school, and entertainment offerings. We really like being able to walk to work, to school, to the library, to playgrounds, to shopping and restaurants. We also like the comfort of knowing that we have police and code enforcement people keeping us safe.
If there were a compelling reason to close one or both of our neighborhood schools, we might be willing to talk. However, every option that closes schools costs more, so there’s not even a financial reason.
You received the resolution that was unanimously passed by the Indiana borough council. I hope you will seriously consider it.
(Editor’s note: A case against Broad’s preferred schools option was presented by schools superintendent Michael Vuckovich at a school board meeting last month. The school board is scheduled to continue discussions of elementary-school options at upcoming meetings.)