VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Your vote this November could make a $4 million difference.
Earlier this year, the Vigo County School Corporation announced it needs to make a $4 million budget cut. Superintendent Dr. Rob Haworth says that total could climb to $8 million if the school referendum fails this November.
The district has been holding a series of community meetings to hear from the public about the budget and school leaders are taking notes. They've been listening to your suggestions about ways to cut the budget and ways to make money for the district. Supt. Haworth held a press conference on Thursday morning to talk about the more popular suggestions he's heard from the public.
Haworth says, "My hope is people will see that we are listening."
FOUR DAY SCHOOL WEEK
Haworth says many people have suggested a four day school week. He says this would be difficult to accomplish because the state mandates how many days students must be in class. To do this would require legislative changes.
People have also brought up staggering school start times, combining bus routes and using buses for longer. Haworth explains the start time is the same for each school. By staggering the start times, they could use fewer buses. This could also help alleviate issues caused by a bus driver shortage.
SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION AND REDISTRICTING
Another popular idea is redistricting and consolidating schools. Haworth says this is something he is looking at and the pace at which these changes happen will be impacted by whether or not the school referendum passes this November.
"Our district is shrinking. Our county is shrinking in terms of total population and so the referenda allows us more time to have great conversation with our community about redistricting, what that might look like, consolidation and what that might look like or school closure."
Haworth says no decisions have been made about what schools would be consolidated or closed but says enrollment would be a factor. Student population, however, would not be the only factor. School leaders have to consider the schools location within the county and building conditions.
The district’s architect, Fanning Howey, came up with these “utilization” figures. The percentage shows how much of each school is being used.
Davis Park: 77%, Deming: 72%, Farrington Grove: 101%, Franklin: 81%, Fuqua: 91%, Lost Creek: 78%, Meadows: 65%, Ouabache: 86%, Riley: 50%, Rio Grande: 81%, Sugar Grove: 99%, Terre Town: 100%, West Vigo ES: 71%, Devaney: 118%, Dixie Bee: 105%, Fayette: 47%, Hoosier Prairie: 86%, Sugar Creek Consolidated: 78%, Honey Creek: 91%, Otter Creek: 79%, Sarah Scott: 46%, West Vigo MS: 65%, Woodrow Wilson: 87%, Terre Haute South: 104%, Terre Haute North: 107%, West Vigo: 66%, Data for Booker T. Washington and McLean was not available at this time.
Supt. Haworth says the district will look at other school buildings, too. This includes the administration building in downtown Terre Haute. Haworth says the property will only go up in value thanks to the projects planned in the downtown area. It could be possible that those offices relocate into unused space in another building.
The public has also offered up ideas on ways to make, or at least save, the district some money. Top suggestions include partnering with businesses for sponsorships, renting out facilities to community groups, leasing empty space and equipment, expanding the virtual school program and using space for a for-profit preschool program. Haworth says all of these suggestions are worth exploring.
Haworth says "revenue enhancements" won't be enough on their own and cuts will have to happen.
You can still share your ideas at the remaining community meetings. Each meeting starts at 6:30pm and ends at 8pm.
Oct 3: Sugar Grove
Oct 8: Deming
Oct 9: Davis Park
Oct 10: Fayette
Oct 15: West Vigo Elementary
Oct 16: Franklin
Oct 17: Meadows