No. 7 - WRV looks into merging elementary schools

Friday, December 30, 2011

At this time, the future of the White River Valley School Corporation's Lyons and Worthington campuses is unknown.

Superintendent Layton Wall said with recent drastic cuts in state aid, combined with a shrinking local property tax support, the long-term viability of continuing to operate the two aging school buildings an economic challenge is a challenge.

This story was voted No. 7 for 2011 by the Greene County Daily World.

The corporation hired a consulting firm -- MGT of America, Inc. -- to study options such as renovating the current elementary campuses and building a centrally located elementary in Switz City.

In March, results from a feasibility study were released. The firm recommended developing a seven-year facility plan that would result in the construction of one centrally located elementary school in Switz City with an estimated price tag of $8,713,250.

The study showed that $473,000 could be saved annually by operating one new elementary school.

Yearly maintenance costs for Lyons was set at $477,734, Worthington at $466,696 and the cost of operating shuttle buses to transport students was set at $48,600 for a total operating cost of $993,030. MGT estimated the new school could be maintained for $519,206 yearly.

A second study, this one by Indiana University Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP), was done.

CEEP estimated that true costs of constructing a new building at Switz City would be about $23.5 million, while renovating both elementary buildings up to current code and standards would be $21.1 million.

The prospect of closing the elementary schools hasn't been popular with some community members. Several residents have attended board meetings and hearings to show their support of keeping the elementary schools operating in the Lyons and Worthington communities.

"We are going to be forced to look at this (building a new elementary) seriously at White River Valley to keep our school," Wall previously stated. "Three to four years down the road we are going to be looking at consolidating with a local school district, if we don't. I'm telling you right now, it is very likely that if we don't do something we're going to be joining a neighboring school. ... We would like to think we would build a new school here and still run it as WRV."

Currently, no decision has been made as to the future of the White River Valley School Corporation.