The time has come for Terre Haute and Vigo County to start thinking about Big Changes.
Tempers will flare, emotions will run high, and Regardless of what happens, West Vigo looks to be the Big Winner. Grab your school waivers and go west.
Will Vigo County look at School Improvements as an investment in the community? or a burden to the taxes that will be squandered away by poor management and an incompetent board?
Taxpayers are going to be asked for another significant property tax increase very soon, and with the county being a high tax county already, the propaganda campaign will be intense.
Some would argue ( about 55 from VCSC survey results), that one Central Vigo County High School is NOT acceptable.
Vigo County School superintendent Rob Haworth won’t bother asking the school board about most of the plans. The best he can hope for now is
Plan 1: build a little new stuff and pay for repairs of old stuff over the next 20 years.
Plan 2: build a little new stuff and pay for repairs of old stuff Now with tax increase.
The Vigo County School Corporation will be continuing to spend down $43million dollars in Federal Cares Act/Covid Money while it tries to convince voters in May 2022 to pass a tax hike. That’s the time frame school administrators are looking to again ask the voters of Vigo County to make an investment in local education.
In May 2022 a referendum for a Capital Improvement Project will be put on the ballot for all residents of Vigo County. Similar to Nov. 5, 2019’s referendum that sought pay raises, the one in May will ask for a property tax increase to replace the 3 high schools in Vigo County.
The School Corporation had developed 5 different plans that have now been narrowed down to three. The School Administration presented the original five plans to the School Board in Sept. 2017.
The one option that IS NOT being considered is a unified Terre Haute Central High School.
This option would allow the taxpayers to get the best cost per student on a new school facility.
As the School Corporation published on its website in the first referendum request, Vigo County Schools were falling behind school corporations like Wayne, Perry, Noblesville, Warren, and Lawrence. The school corporation wants to use those school districts as the bar that is set, then a closer look at what they have done might be justified.
And while they have Big shiny newer buildings, and a higher tax rate to pay for them, Vigo County wants to go a different route. New, but the same. Less controversy to pass a referendum. And passing a referendum is what it’s all about.
Starting with M.S.D. Wayne, it has one high school Ben Davis. Grades 10-12 with a student population of 3200 and a 9th grade learning center separate.
Perry Township has two high schools, Perry Meridan and Southport each with approximately 2300 students grade 9-12.
Noblesville School district has one high school with an enrollment of 3030.
M.S.D. Warren has one high school, Warren Central with an enrollment of just under 3900.
M.S.D. Lawrence has two high schools. Lawrence North and Lawrence Central with 2600 and 2300 each. Approx.
Carmel-Clay has one high school. Carmel, with an enrollment will over 5200 students.
Vigo County has a Total High School enrollment of just over 4000. That population is expected to decline over the next 10 years to an estimated 3982 as show in the chart below.
|High School Total||4561||4485||4460||4461||4401||4253||4192||4057||4011||4008||4007||3996||3930||3908||3929||3982|
A total High School enrollment hovering around 4000 students would indicate that ONE central high school would be along the same size as Warren Central, a little larger than Noblesville and a little smaller than Carmel. Those are the school districts put forth by the Vigo County School Corporation as role models for growth, use of tax dollars, investment in community, and how well a community will attract business.
West Vigo High School has an estimated population of approx. 525-550 total high school students and West Vigo Middle School has an estimated enrollment of 375-425 in next decade and beyond.
Otter Creek and Honey Creek Middle Schools each have enrollment close to 800 students, while Sarah Scott has an enrollment of close to 400.
Consolidating West Vigo High School into the one Central High School, or Two New High High Schools would save anywhere from $39million to $66million in construction cost.
This option was not presented as part of the feasibility study given to the school board or the public. The idea of a New Large East Side High School that would consolidate North and South is presented as option #5, but it also includes $66 million to build a brand new West Vigo Middle and High School.
The School That Never Was:
A New Large Terre Haute Central High School located along the Banks of the Wabash on the property being given away or sitting idle, might prove to be centrally located and offer the revitalization of the riverfront that Terre Haute and Vigo County has been seeking for many years.
The utilization of current resources, and a merging of community support could also be the an option to help unify the County. One team mascot, one school to support with corporate sponsors and eventually wealthy alumni. The best of the best for all students. Keep classroom sizes correct, bigger band, choir, sports teams and all with the best equipment. Show case the school along a new river walk. Connected to Fairbanks park via the Greg Gibson river walk. Artificial Turf football fields sponsored by The Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau. Duke Bennett Baseball field, and the Terre Haute Fire Department Track and Field House. Plasse and Loudermilk Vocational Training Center. Union Health Sports Medicine office, and Hamilton Center Mental Health Care Clinic. All on site. Every man, woman and child, politician, businessman, grandma and grandpa, aunt and uncle in Vigo County would instantly be connected to each other by knowing a student or staff member at a New Central Terre Haute High School. Big can be bad. Big could be beautiful, safe, secure, and have the combined resources of an entire community to support it.
Maybe Terre Haute should be bold. Probably Not. Turn the page and look to the next generation for its potential or pine for the days gone by.
In 1960 the process of consolidating over a dozen township high schools started due to Indiana State Law. This process further consolidated the 4 Terre Haute High Schools in 1971. (Garfield and Gerstmeyer to become the New Terre Haute North and Honey Creek and Wiley to become Terre Haute South)
There are many drawbacks to having large schools, but according to several research studies done, most of those benefits are seen in schools with populations well under 900 students. Several publications list the benefits of small schools as being achieved when school enrollment is under 400.
So, with the proposals outlined by the Vigo County School Corporation the only school that reaps the benefits of all these factors, 400-500 students, and a brand new facility would be West Vigo. Go Vikings!
Vikings take the Win.
West Vigo should get a new building because it’s the oldest. They also cannot be bused to Terre Haute because it’s to far away.
The property owners of Vigo County cannot afford to pay anything more to the VCSC. One in 4 people has a BS or higher yet 1 in 5 residents lives in poverty. Average VCSC teacher salary is double what per capita wages are for Vigo County residents. What happened to the money that was budgeted for school maintenance and why are there maintenance employees listed on gateway if they performed no maintenance? Was the plan to perforom no maintenance in order to get money? Also, why is this tax increase only for property owners? Why are all residents of the County not sharing in the burden? Vigo County population continues to decline as does public school enrollment. No amount is listed on the referendum but the news pointed out the total is $261 million. Sounds fishy to me.
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