Rural Indiana district exploring consolidation

MODOC, Ind. (AP) — Leaders of one of Indiana’s smallest school districts have decided to explore consolidating with a neighboring district.

The Union School Corp.’s board voted 4-1 Monday night to move ahead with consolidation talks for the 340-student district in southern Randolph County, The Star Press reported.

School Board President Todd Holaday said that after years of declining enrollment and tax revenues, he believed the district — the fourth-smallest among the state’s nearly 300 districts — must be careful in picking a partner for consolidation.

“You’ve got to think ahead and try not to get in the same situation again years down the road,” he said.

The district, which has elementary and junior-senior high schools in the town of Modoc, expects its state funding to drop by $200,000. Holaday has said that would force more spending cuts that wouldn’t be appropriate.

The district’s enrollment is down more than 25 percent from eight years ago, according to state attendance figures.

Board member Christa Ellis voted against going ahead with consolidation discussions.

“I don’t think we’ve explored all the options yet, and a lot of what is being done is on the premise that our high school is failing people,” she said after the meeting. “I believe that our kids are being well prepared. … Our vocational program is so excellent.”

Board member Scott Houser said looking at class offerings at other schools showed him how much students are missing at the school in a rural area about 20 miles southeast of Muncie.

“Do you want to provide the basic education at Union for these kids or do you want to provide a lot more?” he said.

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