Like many small school districts in Indiana, leaders of Whitko schools have some difficult decisions to make.
Funding is limited and, when declining enrollment numbers are tied to that funding, expanding programs and offerings is next to impossible and, in some cases, this means consolidation. That’s a tough conversation to have.
We don’t know what the answer it, we simply encourage the school board and Whitko administrators to put careful thought into whatever decision they make.
As discussed in the article on Page 1 of this week’s IN|Whitley County, Whitko may need to close one or more of its buildings and consolidate to conserve money.
Smith-Green Community Schools are an excellent example of how this can work, and the benefits of having all children under one roof. Often, older students are invited to the elementary school, just down the hall, allowing for opportunities to role model for younger students. It’s a great system that has many benefits.
However, complete consolidation is likely not an option for Whitko, which has several quality facilities spread between three communities.
Many factors that need to be considered in this decision but, ultimately, it boils down to two things:
• What is best for Whitko’s students?
• What is best for the taxpayers of the school district?
Pierceton Elementary is nearly a brand new school, and Whitko Middle School is relatively new as well. South Whitley Elementary School recently underwent large renovations. Closing down either one of those buildings seems wasteful of the taxpayer dollar spent on them.
Consultants hired by the school board suggest turning the middle school into a 7-12 grade building, essentially moving Whitko High School out of South Whitley and to the Larwill area. Having the high school more centrally located would likely be great for those living further away from South Whitley, especially Pierceton residents, but the change could be difficult for South Whitley, which many residents are working to revitalize.
Any decision made feels like a Catch-22 scenario. This is why we are not envious of those in Whitko who are faced with coming to a compromise that keeps the students and taxpayers at the forefront. We hope the community will voice its concerns and ultimately, get behind the school board members and administrators because no final decision is likely to make everyone happy.