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EACS mulls fate of closed schools

2 buildings could become charters, sold or destroyed

– East Allen County Schools board members agreed Tuesday that the district no longer needs two elementary schools that recently closed, and the buildings will go on a state list for potential charter school consideration.

Heritage Elementary and Woodlan Primary School were closed after the school year ended. The students will attend school this fall at the newly expanded and renovated Heritage and Woodlan campuses, both of which will house students in kindergarten through 12th grade, part of the district’s redesign plan.

Both the $10.8 million Woodlan and $11.9 million Heritage projects were approved through a dueling petition process in 2012.

Heritage Elementary, formerly Hoagland Elementary, is on 13 acres in Madison Township; and Woodlan Primary School, formerly Woodburn Elementary, is on 13 acres in Maumee Township.

Board members have not made a decision on what they will do with the schools – sell or demolish. Indiana law governs the sale of abandoned school buildings and requires they be on a waiting list for two years to provide providing charter schools with the opportunity to claim them.

But the corporation is allowed to file a waiver if it doesn’t want to wait, and board members would then vote on what becomes of the buildings, said Kirby Stahly, assistant superintendent of administrative services.

The school corporation closed Monroeville Elementary at the end of the 2010-11 school year, and that building was bought by the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese for St. Joseph Catholic Elementary.

The former Harlan Elementary School is now the Christian Community Center, part of the Ekklesia, formerly Sunrise Chapel.

New computers

In other business, a recommendation for new staff computers passed, 4-3, but staff who work in buildings that house grades 7 to 12 will get new desktop computers.

Nearly 575 new computers will be “phased in,” Stahly said, and the old computers will be used in student computer labs. The total cost is $482,076 with a phase-in purchase; $300,000 of the funding is available now, and the rest will be available by early fall from the federal discount telecommunication program.

“The staff computers are 6 years old and have been out of warranty for three years,” Superintendent Ken Folks said. “They will replace computers in the student lab that are 8 to 10 years old.”

The conversation heated up after board member Arden Hoffman asked a staff member why the computers were good enough for the students, but not for the teachers.

Before anyone could answer, board member Bill Hartman interrupted.

“Why does it sound like you are cross-examining the staff?” he said to Hoffman. “Change your tone.”

Arden, Bob Nelson and Chris Baker voted against the purchase, but Hartman, Neil Reynolds, Terry Jo Lightfoot and Stephen Terry said they were in favor of the project.