PIERCETON — Pierceton residents came out in full force to the public meeting held last night, Jan. 24, to discuss the recent decision of the Whitko School Board. On Jan. 15, the school board voted 3-2 to consolidate grades 7-12 to the Whitko High School campus instead of the Whitko Middle School campus.
Lewis Collier spoke for the majority of the meeting and expressed frustration with the decision.
“This corporation and the record of their decisions have shown that the location of the high school has always benefited South Whitley,” began Collier. “We have thrown all our resources, time and our good faith into a corporation that is struggling to financially survive.”
The major strengths of the Whitko Middle School campus were listed in a handout along with the short-term and long-term financial outlooks of the corporation and a contact list for all board members.
According to the handout, the middle school consists of 111 acres of property with room for growth while the high school has 30 acres. The classroom sizes at the middle school are 900 square foot versus 800 square foot at the high school. The middle school is also fully ADA compliant and has a new sprinkler system, while the high school lacks both these aspects.
Many options were presented that Pierceton could seek as a community. The community could work with school board members to get a new motion, create a referendum to remove Washington Township out of Whitko School district, work with other schools outside the Whitko district or do nothing.
During a show of hands vote, the majority of those in attendance want to work to stay with the Whitko School district. The overwhelming hope was that a new motion may be made by the school board if enough people make their voices heard.
Six community members braved the crowd and all expressed their frustration with the decision.
“My heart hurts, I think I witnessed the death of Whitko,” said Tony Phillips. “They managed to once again take something they don’t have the right to take.”
Henry Miller invited those in attendance to stand up against the decision. “We have to take a stand. Let the school board members know that you are upset. Let them know that they aren’t taking care of our kids in the north side of the county.”
At the end of the meeting, everyone in attendance was urged to attend the upcoming school board meetings. A school board work session is being held at 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 5, and the next school board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 19. All meetings are held at the Whitko Middle School.
The town of Pierceton plans on keeping the community updated via their Facebook page and by email. Until then, those upset with the decision were encouraged to contact the school board members. Their contact info is as follows:
District 1 representative, Washington/Monroe townships
Carrie Hoffman, vice president
District 2 representative, Richland/Jackson townships
District 3 representative, Cleveland Township
Eric Trump, secretary
District 4 representative, Washington/Jackson/Monroe townships
Jorell Tucker, president
District 5 representative, Cleveland/Richland Townships