INDIANA AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT: Union opposes STEM academy funding

Posted on Sep 29, 2015

The teachers’ union at Indiana Area School District has gone on record against a request for more than $722,000 to support construction of a Challenger Learning Center and STEM Academy at Indiana County Technology Center.

The Indiana Area school board on Monday pushed the vote back to its Oct. 12 meeting after hearing a round of opposition, mainly for economic but also for academic reasons.

The delay also would give directors a chance to consider a summary of an extensive discussion held Sept. 22 by the board’s Academic and Extracurricular Committee.

The Challenger/STEM project is estimated to cost $9 million, and ICTC officials say they have $5 million in grants and $2 million anticipated from interested corporate and foundation donors.

ICTC Executive Director Eric Palmer and education consultant Rodney Green have asked the tech center’s seven member districts to pledge shares of the remaining $2 million to convince the grant and donation sources to commit funds to the project.

Social studies teacher Michael Tshudy, the president of Indiana Area Education Association, said Indiana’s actual cost for a long-term loan to cover its contribution would be more than $985,000. The district also would pay an estimated $688,000 of tuition to send up to 30 students to the STEM Academy in the first three years of operation.

“This request comes at the eleventh hour for the organizers of this project and with the warning that if not received from our district, the project and all of its merits will be lost for good,” Tshudy said. “This request comes nearly a year after the organizers of this project stated that funding for this center would be paid for without need for additional taxpayer dollars, that it would be funded through corporate donations and grants.”



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