Superintendents field a wide variety of questions at community meeting PDF Print E-mail

The meeting Wednesday, February 7 at Borden High School to discuss the future of the school lasted a little over an hour and a half and covered a wide variety of topics.

 

A story about the meeting can be found on the front page of this section.

The following are some of the questions posed to West Clark Interim Superintendent John Reed and East Washington Superintendent Dennis Stockdale.


“One of the benefits of annexation would be sharing resources.”

“We want to see if there is a way to leverage resources both ways to increase programs,” Stockdale said. “We talk all the time about what’s next for our kids. For example, we have a very strong Ag program and I don’t think there is an Ag program at Borden.

“We would share resources and we would not want to do it (the annexation) if both sets of schools couldn’t be as strong and growing as they currently are.”


“What does Pekin community think of the idea (of annexation)?”

“We haven’t hit it a lot in the community,” Stockdale said. “First, there has to be an interest on the side of the West Clark board and then we need to see if numbers are going to line up. Once we do that, then we need to go out into the communities more.

“My fear is if you go out into the communities more and everyone is positive and on board and then we get the numbers back and they don’t line up, then we will be making decisions, not based on data and dollars, we will be making them on emotions that will affect both of us negatively and we can’t do that.”

Stockdale said he did put a letter out on the facebook page and once it was clear that consolidating schools was not on the table, there have been a lot of positive responses and a lot of questions.

“After I make it clear we are not consolidating, no one has said, ‘this is the worst idea ever!’” he said. “That’s the first question. The town of Borden needs its schools and Pekin needs its schools.”


“Does the condition of both school campuses positively affect a possible annexation?”

“The needs are similar,” Stockdale said. “We just fired up and got our solar going. We are working on HVAC upgrades right now and we have a plan going to address our elementary and high school and I believe there is some needed HVAC work needed at Borden.

“There is, however, some debt, and that’s going to take a lot of time to sort out. Where does that debt fall within the districts and when does it come off. You could have a lot of debt, but if it’s paid out in three or four years, it may not be a big issue, but if it’s spread out to 15 or 20 years that might be a problem and I don’t know where those numbers are going to fall. Those are some things that we are going to have to look at.”


“I am worried that this will be rushed through. We do not want the plan put together in such a way that it’s not accepted.”

“If everybody agrees and everything is peaches and cream, this can actually get done in six months,” said Reed.

Reed said once a plan is complete, it will be sent to the State Board of Education as long as there is no remonsterance.

If there is a remonsterance, the plan would go to the circuit court and at that point a judge would look at two things – did the process follow Indiana Code and secondly, were all the components required there.

“If the answer is yes to both of those questions and the judge weighs in favor of the plan, it goes back to the state board of education,” Reed said.

At that point, the remonsterance period starts all over and there could be another remonsterance, starting the process all over.

“At that point it wouldn’t go back to the same court, it would go to a different court and a different judge would have an opportunity to weigh in,” Reed said.

Another reason Reed doesn’t expect this to be a quick process are the boundaries.

“If we can’t settle on boundaries, that’s going to be a big part of that plan that we have to submit,” Reed said. “There may be a whole lot of bickering that occurs before we get boundaries settled. The second piece is, we have to have assurance from the state board of education that the programs we have here at Borden are going to be sustained and it’s actually to the benefit of the kids.”

Reed said it’s going to take time to split the contracts and assets in West Clark.

“The decision on the boundaries is decided on by the board, doesn’t that put Borden at a disadvantage?”

“No it doesn’t,” Reed said, “because the boundaries are going to be in the plan and when the plan goes to the state, that’s when you can do the remonsterance.”


“What will happen with Silver Creek’s succession and if Borden annexes with East Washington, the state is not going to let Henryville just be out there on their own?”

“The state board of education is going to be extremely careful, because we are setting precident,” Reed said. “No one has done this before, but the other piece is, before the plan was approved by the DOE, but that recently changed and now the plan will have to be approved by the state board of education and they have no experience with this type of situation.

“The board will be extremely careful. If the plan is approved at West Clark you may have a bunch of school districts deciding they want to do the same thing.”

 

“It worries me what this is already going to cost the tax payers?”

Reed said the work currently being done by the attorneys from Indianapolis is going to cost West Clark around $350,000 and any future financial studies would be an additional cost.


There were several questions about why Borden should be doing any work in advance when it doesn’t appear that Silver Creek is doing anything.

Reed said while it’s work that may not be visible, there is work being done.

“They (the Silver Creek representatives) are looking at what it will take to build a new high high school,” he said. “They are looking at what it will do to tax rates. They have assigned me to put together what happens to staffing and what the cost of that is.

“The problem is, that everything that has been put together has been put together as a whole – all West Clark. That’s what’s taken the time.”