Consolidation Impacts

SULLIVAN COUNTY, IN - Four different petitions are going around the town of Farmersburg to put a stop to a last resort option of the Northeast School Corporation consolidating their schools.

Community members  feel the consolidation would negatively impact their towns.

Of the three consolidation options in discussion right now, two and possibly three schools would be lost.

I stopped by the Farmersburg gas station and Dollar General and looked at two petitions, each were full of signatures multiple pages.

The Northeast Schools superintendent tells me today that the school board doesn't want to see these schools go away, but it's a decision they may have to make.

"Post offices suddenly become instead of an eight hour operation become a two to three hour operation, those little towns become ghost towns," Farmersburg resident, Jerry Baker said.

Baker fears that small communities in Sullivan County will become obsolete if their main operation, their schools, get taken away.

He's been vocal about his concerns at school board meetings where officials outline consolidation options.

"When you close the schools in a community, you lose a since of pride in community involvement," Baker said.

Option one includes kindergarten through 6th grade at Shelburn, 7-12 at North Central. Another pre-K through fourth at Shelburn, 5 though 12 at North Central. Finally, pre-K though 12 all at North Central location.    

Northeast Schools Superintendent Mark Baker says all options are just discussion at this point, but community talk speculates otherwise.

"At the Hymera meeting there were a number of parents who came out with the statement ... That what they were doing at the meetings were a dog and pony show," resident Jerry Baker said.

Dr. Baker says community input at monthly meetings is taken into consideration by the board, still, consolidation has it's benefits.

"We'd have balanced classrooms we think we could deliver the curriculum better. Second reason would be financial, if we only have to take care of two or three beuildings we think that would be ... Financially a gain for us," Dr. Baker said.

Dr. Baker outlines all the money the school corporation has been losing over the years and their number of students, today's count, K through 12 being 830.

He says the board doesn't want to see the schools go away, but more money is going into them than the corporation is getting back.

"Sometimes when you get put in a corner, as a last resort, you may have to do that."

Initially the school board had a plan outlined for the next ten years on what would happen with a consolidation. The superintendent says the soonest they could see movement begin is 2019.

The school board hopes to have a decision by May.

Dr. Baker says the schools have already seen parents not enroll their kids, fearful that the school may not exist much longer.

Another school board meeting will be held at the Shelburn school this upcoming Monday at 7 pm.


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