Small town schools are consolidating across the state. The North East School Corporation could be next. Save UHS formed to keep the doors open to Dugger Elementary and Union High School. Now, there's SAVE NESC.
"Same argument that Dugger has for saving their school, I want to save our corporation because it's tradition," said North Central High School student, Alek Copeland.
The school corporation is nearly $300,000 in the red. They receive just over $6,000 a year per student from the state. The average cost per student at Union is about $9,000, while students at North Central cost just over $5,000. Couple the cost of each student with a crippling structure at Union and supporters of Save NESC say closing Union is the only option they have to keep the entire corporation.
"It's just not feasible to take that many people and sacrifice them just so we can keep a building open," said Save NESC supporter, Leslie Hawker. "No body wants to sacrifice the students. We want to make it so it's better for everybody but we are sacrificing the education of our children for a building."
Alek Copeland is North Central's valedictorian this school year. He's taken every AP class offered, plays football and has started looking into colleges. He's worried the lack of funding at NESC has held him back.
"I'm cut short when I'm looking into higher level schools such as Harvards and Yales," said Copeland.
Save NESC supporters say closing Union and Dugger could bring the corporation's bank account back in the positive and allow them to add back programs that were cut years ago due to funding. It all comes down to the dollar and Hawker says if the board doesn't make the decision, the state will.
"No matter what happens, the state isn't going to keep Dugger open because it's a mess."
The next school board meeting will be November 25. Both sides say they'll present.