Right Sizing North Lawrence Community Schools Corporation With Closing of Oolitic Middle School?
Updated: Feb 8
LAWRENCE COUNTY - (February 7, 2022) - The proposal to consider the closure of Oolitic Middle School will be discussed during the February 22, 2022 North Lawrence Community School board meeting.
NLCS School Board will decide fate of OMS February 22nd at 6:30 p.m.
Back in 2019, a Visionary Committee was formed of 30 people to set the vision for the school corporation for 2020 and beyond.
The committee was given three options to consider. During the process the first issue that needed to be addressed was declining enrollment numbers over the last ten years.
Many attend a public hearing in November 2019 about plans to right size NLCS
Enrollment numbers continue to plummet following the closing of four elementary schools which include Fayetteville, Heltonville, Springville and Stalker. As well as the closure of Shawswick Middle School in 2021.
Located at 1418 James Avenue Bedford, Indiana
The school funding has decreased with operating expenses of those newly built schools.
There is also an expectant population decline in the next 10 years.
Williams resident Bill Spreen supported the closure of Fayetteville School in 1997
Supporters of the consolidation of the school corporation at the time was Williams resident Bill Spreen. " Do I have all the answers " NO". There need to be some changes. And we need to support our elected officials. They have an impossible task. But our children hear what we say around the supper table. They the school board are a part of us and we need to support them. So, when they make the decision, we need to support the decision, so these kids have a smooth transition," said Bill Spreen during the November 2019 public meeting.
In addition, what was not expected was the formation of a charter school (Lawrence County Independent Schools.) which is now housed in the former Fayetteville Elementary School. LCIS offers K-grade 8 education.
Parents wait to pick up their children at Dollens Elementary Monday afternoon
Dr. Ty Mungle has advocated for the school district to reduce facilities and streamline student programs. At the time there was expected $1.8 Million dollars in savings by closing the schools and facilities mentioned above.
Rural Lawrence County communities have been impacted by NLCS Consolidation plans, Town of Oolitic may soon feel the same impact
Approximately, 450 students have left the North Lawrence Community Schools which equates to about $3.5 Million dollars for the school corporation to other school options.
Back in November 2019 Dr. Ty Mungle maintained that five out of the ten elementary schools were operating in deficit spending.
In plan 2 of the Visionary Committee was to reduce the district to three larger elementary schools Parkview Primary, Parkview Intermediate, Dollens in Oolitic, and Shawswick.
Consolidation of 7-8th graders at Bedford Middle School from Oolitic and Shawswick into one middle school.
" My grandson is getting ready to go into sixth grade, and I do not want them to close the school," Kim Coulter who was picking up her grandson at Dollens Elementary Monday afternoon.
In 2001, Indiana was the 38th state to authorize charter schools
The expansion of charter schools came following the Mitch Daniels administration while governor of Indiana encouraging reform to Indiana Schools.
Daniels encouraged the expansion of charter schools, and limit teacher contracts. The governor encouraged vouchers to pay for a child to go to private schools.
In Indiana there were a total of 11 charter school in the year, 2002. The number of charter schools have increased to 112 from 2020 -2021.
Supporters of charter schools say that they offer more choices to parents because they have more freedom in setting the curriculum.
The critics of charter school maintain they are just an excuse to curtail teacher unions and maintain that charter schools do not perform no better than public schools.
Without the establishment of the charter schools the rural communities of Fayetteville and Springville would have been forced with longer bus rides and no option but to got to Parkview and Dollens Elementary.
In 2021, a second charter school has since formed called the Springville Academy which offers education for K-6 and working on getting an approval for 7th and 8th grade students. Ball State University has not approved the 7th and 8th grade proposal at this time.
The savings from the consolidation is not yet known especially with more parents wanting to enroll their children in other school corporations or home schooling.
The budget for the school corporation has only been reduced to $2 Million dollars, and school corporation sought another bond issue for capital improvements following after consolidation. The property tax rates for the school corporation have remained the same while Indian Creek, Perry and Pleasant Run Township lost public school buildings to other purposes.
Teacher salaries have not been really improved by consolidation efforts at this time. With the closure of another middle school there is no word on how this will impact staffing.