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GCSC to examine closing Miller Education Center

Thursday, December 10, 2009

GREENCASTLE -- As reports from state officials about the state's financial forecast remain bleak, the Greencastle Community School Superintendent Bob Green is trying to prepare the corporation for the worst.

With this in mind, he came before the school board Wednesday night with a proposal to reconfigure the use of the corporation's buildings for more efficient operation. One major piece of this process could be the closure of the Miller Education Center, which currently houses the administrative offices, the maintenance department and a pair of lessees. Should GCSC close Miller, it would likely be done in the next six to 18 months.

"We're very likely to be cut in our general funding for 2010. All of my focus has been on trying to keep teaching jobs for the last two years," Green said.

Green's proposal, of which Miller's closure is only a piece, is to form a committee to examine the use of all buildings the corporation owns and how they might be used more efficiently. The committee would include administrators, teachers, other staff members and parents from each building. Green and a pair of school board members would also take part in the process.

The idea is to find ways to save money in the budget in ways other than cutting jobs.

"Basically, what I want to protect is classroom instruction because that's what directly affects the student," Green said. "I'd rather close a building than lay off several teachers affect the kids in the classrooms."

The worry is the general fund will be cut. Approximately 93 percent of the general fund goes toward employee compensation.

Miller, which was formerly a school, is the corporation's oldest building. Besides the administration and maintenance, it also currently houses the offices for Old National Trail and West Central Indiana Educational Service Center. ONT, which Greencastle schools will be leaving at the end of the school year, will be moving out by the first of the year.

The building struggles with energy inefficiency, and its closure would likely save the corporation considerably. Besides this, the upkeep of the building would no longer be necessary.

"If we were to close the Miller Center, my estimate is we could save approximately $100,000 in utilities and operational costs," Green said. He added that most of the savings would be in the general fund.

The trick for the committee, though, is to find where the administrative offices, including the school's technology department, along with the maintenance department and West Central, could be housed.

Green's studies have also revealed that between six and nine classrooms in Tzouanakis are unused or underused. The figure is lower in other schools, but all have some space.

Additionally, the high school has two shops, while the middle school has one. A temporary location for the maintenance department could be in one of the high school shops.

It will be the committee's responsibility to explore these and other issues at all of the schools in the corporation and find how best to run the corporation more efficiently. The committee would be responsible to report to the school board by May 1, 2010.

While there were a number of questions, the board agreed with Green on the seriousness of the problem and voted unanimously to authorize him to form the committee.

Green will appoint the committee, with recommendations coming from each building principal. While Green initially conceived of the idea, he wants this to be a true discussion, not simply his ideas.

"I don't want somebody to say, 'This is Bob Green's idea.' I want everybody to have input on this," Green said. "I don't want it to be a rubber stamp committee. I want people who are going to be thoughtful and give their input."

The administration is also seeking other ways to assist in funding. Assistant Superintendent Dawn Puckett received board approval to apply for the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant, which would provide money for after-school programs. Puckett said GCSC would use the funding for dropout-prevention programs.

Green was also approved to pursue the Race to the Top grant.

In other business:

* The board approved three curriculum proposals from the GHS curriculum committee. The new courses will be advanced placement language arts, advanced placement Latin and percussion.

* The board approved 18 personnel items, including the hiring of Dessa Frank as temporary elementary art teacher for the second semester and the hiring of Liz Spencer as GHS volleyball coach.

Several board members expressed their appreciation that Spencer, an elementary P.E. instructor, is filling the position after Trish Lowe's retirement from coaching. Jack Berry said Spencer has served the corporation for many years, and he was happy to see her stepping into this position.

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I hope that wonderful historic building (Old Miller School bldg) doesn't get demolished like the old junior high gymnasium. What a mistake that was.

-- Posted by just a local on Thu, Dec 10, 2009, at 1:35 PM

Yes what a great old building. Old, dank, most likely full of asbestos, mold and dust and almost impossible and expensive to heat and cool. Lets keep another old building on the tax payers back like Jones School. Tear it down use space for parking for the park or more greenspace for the park that would only take mowing to maintain.

-- Posted by hardtobelieve on Thu, Dec 10, 2009, at 1:46 PM

I just hope that we keep our teachers. I know alot of people will not agree with me but I would scale back sports before teachers. Don't get me wrong I love sports but the main thing is to get an education and that isn't easy without teachers. I remember about 7 or 8 years ago we let teachers go that were doing a good job and then resurfaced the track that summer. Everybody says well that was from a different fund but if you ask me it still is the schools money so transfer it to the area where you need it.

-- Posted by T.C. FATHER OF 2 on Fri, Dec 11, 2009, at 9:26 AM

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