LARWILL — An anticipated school closing will not come to fruition for Whitko Community Schools, at least for the 2017-2018 school year.
At the Whitko School Board meeting held Monday, March 20, the board decided to find another way to deal with their looming financial troubles rather than consolidating schools.
The Whitko School Corporation has been considering potential solutions such as reducing staff, increasing class size or eliminating courses. Other potential options have included consolidating administrative services with another corporation, finding a service people will pay for, adding virtual school option or creative management techniques that could include a public referendum. Currently the schools will need to make up between $250,000-$600,000 every school year for the next five years.
During the meeting, board member Joe Begley made a motion to reconfigure Pierceton and South Whitley Elementary Schools to hold K-6 grades, close Whitko Middle School and reconfigure Whitko High School to hold 7-12 grades. The motion was not seconded, causing it to die.
Board member Jorell Tucker made a motion to keep the school configuration as it is currently established and create a task force. The task force would consist of community members, teachers and administrators. The task force is to come before the board on Jan. 31, 2018, with a plan for the 2018-2019 school year.
Tucker suggested the task force have an independent mediator or consultant to would head the committee. Tucker offered an open invitation for individuals in the community to become members of the task force.
A motion to continue with the current configuration of the schools and create a task force was passed 4-1. Begley did not vote in favor of the motion.
Board member Carrie Hoffman asked that the task force meet with the board so there is clear communication about what direction the task force is going.
Begley stated he was against the motion to keep the schools configured as they currently are. He referenced the fact that there is much uncertainty for school staff, the community and those who are looking to move to the community.
“I don’t care what decision you make, but decide how you’re going to restructure so people can move on with their lives,” said Begley.