TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Vigo County School Board on Monday officially approved the consolidation of West Vigo and Deming Elementary schools. The vote was 5-0.
Vigo County residents like Matt Larimer and Laura Steele expressed their concerns with the board’s decision.
Larimer and Steele had hopes that the board would delay their decision.
“I understand the mindset of closing the smallest schools. But I would love for our school board to adopt a vision that takes those in our community that are struggling the most into account for this overall vision,” he said.
Steele owns a daycare near Deming Elementary and she said she’s concerned about the quality of children’s education.
“They are struggling as it is and the Deming school has provided them with more one on one attention, support and assistance than they would get at any other school in our area,” she said.
Enrollment throughout the school corporation is declining, and both West Vigo and Deming Elementary schools are operating with fewer than 330 students.
A total of 435 students are slated to be moved to either Wabash, Benjamin Franklin, Fayette or Sugar Creek Consolidated elementary schools.
Both elementary school buildings will be repurposed. It’s been proposed for West Vigo to become the new school administration building and Deming could become an early learning center.
Board member Joseph Irwin said he supported West Vigo Elementary becoming the new administration building, adding that his child would be starting kindergarten next year.
“On day one of the new consolidation, where were are rearranging schools on the west side, my child will be there and I am confident the teachers and staff will provide quality education for my children,” he said.
Dr. Rob Haworth, Vigo County Schools Superintendent, said he understands the community’s concerns with closings schools. However, he said they had to do what was best for the school corporation.
“The decision’s that were made, we’ve been talking about this for over a year now and we’re going to have to shrink our footprint,” Haworth said. “In doing that, we don’t believe our students will be harmed. They’ll be moving from great schools to great schools.”
West Vigo and Deming Elementary schools will close at the end of 2021 academic year. The board could make the decision to close a third school by the summer 2022.
In other business Monday evening, the school board approved an aquatic center use agreement with Indiana State University. ISU may conduct six two-hour practices per week and up to seven meets at the aquatic center for an annual fee of $47,000.