A community group wants the cash-strapped Northeast School Corporation to close Union Junior/Senior High School and Dugger Elementary, reports Sue Loughlin for the Terre Haute Tribune-Star:
No one wants to see Dugger and Union High School close, but the bottom line is that “there is no other choice,” Leslie Hawker, chairwoman of Save NESC, told about 60 people Wednesday at the Shelburn Community Center.
“If we do nothing, we are finished — the corporation will go down,” she said.
The group supports a reorganization proposal that calls for closing both Union Junior/Senior High and Dugger Elementary. Two elementaries would remain: Hymera and Farmersburg. Shelburn Elementary would be closed, and instead it would become a sixth/seventh/eighth middle school, serving the entire school district. North Central would serve as the district’s sole high school.
The district has made serious cuts to staff and programs. “There is no place else to cut,” Hawker said. The district currently is spending more than it is taking in. “We can’t sustain this level of expenditure one more year,” she said.
Only about 170 students attend Union — located roughly 40 miles south of Terre Haute — while nearly 500 attend North Central High School. It costs more per pupil to run the small, rural school, and proponents of merging the two schools say closing Union makes fiscal sense for the district.
Loughlin writes that a separate group, Save Union High School, fears closing the schools would mean the end of their small town. The school board will meet Nov. 25 to hear from both groups before considering a reorganization plan early next month.
We’ve written before about small, rural districts asking voters to consider property tax increases to keep their schools open, but that’s not an idea Northeast School Corporation has floated.