Potential ideas for consolidation discussed, Northeast School Corporation hosted three public meetings

For some parents of the Northeast School Corporation, the future is concerning.

Posted: Mar. 13, 2018 12:32 AM

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - For some parents of the Northeast School Corporation, the future is concerning.

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"I'm looking at putting my kids in a different school corporation because of this school corporation," said Nicole Baker, parent.

With talks of consolidation on the table, Nicole Baker was one of several concerned parents wanting to know more about what's ahead.

"We're losing our schools no matter what because we're constantly losing money," she said, "This corporation is losing money, they can't fix it. Anything they're trying, it's just not working."

Those concerns are also heard loud and clear by Superintendent Mark Baker.

"We really wanted to share the obstacles and challenges that we've overcome over the last 10 years," he said, "and some of them that are still out there."

Some of the obstacles still left to conquer are declining enrollment and revenue. Superintendent Baker says they've worked with a focus group made up of parents, local business leaders and educators.

"We spent four months giving them a lot of information, detailed information," he said, "and then they put a plan together to the board."

The focus group's plan was presented over a course of three public meetings. The plan includes three potential ideas.

Currently, Northeast School Corporation houses four schools: North Central High School in Farmersburg, Northeast Middle School in Shelburn, Northeast North Elementary in Farmersburg and Northeast East Elementary in Hymera.

One of the focus group options is housing kindergarten through 6th grade at Shelburn and 7th through 12th at North Central. According to the focus group's findings, that plan would cost $7,294,805.

The second option would include housing K-4 at Shelburn and 5-12 at North Central. That plan would cost $6,648,984.

The third option would build on to North Central and house K-12. That idea would cost $15,320,078.

"I don't like any of them," said Nicole Baker, "None of the plans are an option for me."

Baker says she'd like to see the school board consider going back to K-8 while keeping the high school seperate and by itself.

"I think it was much more effective to have it that way," she said, "We could close down one building and have two, still operational, K-8 and then have the high school all to themselves. That way the elementary and the junior high still keep their identities and they don't get swept up in the high school shadow."

While Baker was one of many who shared their opinions at the meeting, administrators say their ideas and concerns will not fall on deaf ears.

"After this, the board will go back and take a look at all the options, all the information, the pros and cons that we've gotten from our three presentations," said Supt. Baker, "and then they're going to try and put a plan together. So we don't know if it will be a one step plan, a two step plan, three step plan on kind of how we'll try to deal with the situation over the next 10 years and beyond."

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