This is Ligonier's friendly neighborhood blog and an attempt to recapture our lively opinionated debates in a free speech zone.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

a letter from Pam Newhouse

It is with great regret that I have decided that I will not vote for nor support existing Ligonier Valley School Board members or anyone running on their "slate". The behind-closed-doors appointments and the unnecessary dragging on of contract negotiations with our teachers is the last straw for me.

I do not understand how the existing board can accept a resignation then, in the next breath, name and unanimously approve of a person to add to the board. Was this person's resume submitted? Were they vetted in some manner? What is their reason for serving on the board? And how does the entire board agree unanimously to appoint someone whose name was apparently pulled out of a hat without, at minimum, conducting an interview? Why wasn't the next-highest vote-getter in the last election appointed? It may be legal under Pennsylvania law for the board to make appointments when there is an opening, but it is not ethical nor moral for them to do so. In order to promote open communication and fairness, and to get the best candidates, openings need to be advertised for ALL interested citizens to submit an application so people who are truly interested in public education can apply.

An anonymous flyer being passed around Ligonier states that the board needs to hold the line with teachers because they make way too much money "for our area" - that the per person income is only $29,029. That figure is very misleading - if one person in a family works and makes $60,000 per year and has a spouse and 2 children who do not work - that makes that household's per person income only $15,000.

A better estimate of the jobs value in our area is that the average household income in 2011 was $45,968.

Teachers are highly educated - all have a bachelors degree, most have earned their masters, and our district has more than a few that are earning or have already earned their doctorate.

I have volunteered in Ligonier schools since our family moved here in 2002 and I know how dedicated and serious about their profession our teachers are. They have had money and resources for their classrooms cut to the bone (the Mellon PTA, for example, provides each teacher with a classroom allowance so they have some money available to purchase classroom items).

These professionals deserve better than working without a contract for nearly 500 days.

Please give serious consideration to writing-in people who are truly interested in educating our children, are capable of negotiating in good faith, and want to support our children's education and teachers.


Pamela M Newhouse