The Richland-Bean Blossom School Board voted last night to close Stinesville Elementary School next year.
The decision came despite pleas from Stinesville students, parents, and community members not to shutter the elementary. RBB School board member Dana Kerr says the decision was based on declining enrollment.
Kerr says closing the school will save the school district more than 600 thousand dollars next year. Kerr said the board was only able to save the school in previous years’ budget cuts because enrollment was not as low as it is now. But as the number of Stinesville students dropped, Kerr says the cost of educating them has increased.
But community members say the high-achieving, smaller classes of Stinesville Elementary are worth preserving.
Lisa Land was among over a dozen community members who gathered at Edgewood High School Auditorium to urge the board to delay its vote, and work with community members to keep the school open.
Retired public school teacher Diana Igo received a standing ovation from the audience for her request to keep Stinesville students and teachers in their school. Stinesville Elementary received an ‘A’ in its most recent report card from the Indiana Department of Education.
Kylie Ayres also received audience cheers for her attempt to sway the board with findings from an online survey of Ellettsville and Stinesville parents. Ayres is a member of the community group ‘Save Stinesville Steering Committee,’ who conducted the survey.
Ayers says respondents also indicate there are at least 30 pre-school aged children within their families who would attend Stinesville Elementary should it remain open. She estimates that number could be larger since she estimates the respondents are only one third of area parents.
Kerr maintains students are already free to transfer between RBB schools, but very few actually do. And, he says adding to transportation costs does nothing to alleviate the existing general fund deficit.
Some community members say the cost of keeping Stinesville Elementary open could be found in adjusting the school corporation’s capital projects budget. Keenan Kile disputes the board’s projection that the school needs eight million dollars in repairs, in part to meet ADA standards. She asked the board to take the time to work with the community on solutions.
Community member David Jenner has two children who started at Edgewood in Ellettsville, but now attend school in Stinesville.
Board member Kerr maintains Edgewood Primary and Intermediate Schools can accommodate Stinesville students without overcrowding. He further states the school corporation has long range plans to accommodate future growth.
Board member Jimmie Durnil was the sole board member to express interest in delaying the closing another year. He cast the lone ‘no’ vote out of “respect for the Stinesville community.”