MUNCIE – A majority of Muncie’s school board members say they believe the district’s two high schools must he consolidated into one because of necessary spending cuts.
The board members spoke during a meeting Thursday night with district administrators about possibilities for long-term building issues. The district has lost nearly 1,000 students in recent years.
Four of the five board members said they believed the current Muncie Central and Muncie Southside high schools needed to be combined, The Star Press reported (http://tspne.ws/18JaXad ). Board President Beverly Kelley said she was adamant about keeping both high schools open. A vote is expected Nov. 18.
Board members and administrators have held four public meetings on possible school changes, with hundreds of people packing an August meeting at Muncie Southside to argue against the possibility of closing the school.
“I’m very sad to have to say it ... I believe we have to go to one high school,” board member Robert Warrner said.
Ermalene Faulkner, the district’s chief academic officer, presented board members with an option of using the Muncie Central building as the sole high school, saying it had the most space and could accommodate the current enrollment of nearly 1,800 students from both schools.
District Superintendent Tim Heller said under a plan for a single high school, the high school building that is not used would become a middle school. One of the district’s current two middle schools would then be closed, saving the district about $1.7 million, he said.
The 6,800-student district has had two high schools since converting the former Muncie Northside into a middle school in the late 1980s.
The nearby city of Anderson also once had three high schools, but is now down to one since consolidating Anderson and Highland high schools in 2010.
Kelley, the Muncie board president, said she worried that going to a single high school would cause students to leave the district, overcrowded classrooms and security problems.
“I want to see two high schools,” Kelley said. “I don’t know how we can make it work, but I’m for two high schools.”