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State Board Approves Unprecedented School District Split, Voters Will Decide Next Steps

By Jeanie Lindsay, IPB News | Published on in Education, Government
State Board of Education members at their November meeting. (Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News)
State Board of Education members at their November meeting. (Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News)

A school district in southern Indiana is one step closer to splitting in two after the Indiana State Board of Education approved the next step in the process. The unprecedented move received widespread support among board members, but some questions remain.

West Clark School Corporation was created during a push to shrink the state’s number of school districts in the ’60s, but the single district has been severely divided on education priorities.

Under the reorganization plan now approved by the state board, West Clark would be split into two new school corporations: Silver Creek School Corporation and Borden-Henryville School Corporation. State documents show the need to “eliminate internal competition for resources” as a main reason for the proposal.

Attorney Jon Mayes says it would be the best move because of ongoing tension within the community on how to prioritize different education issues.

“The idea is that these communities see what that means differently,” he says.

Analyses from various state agencies show the two new districts from the split could financially survive. Chair B.J. Watts says that’s what matters to the state board.

“As far as what courses you want to offer and the things you’re going to offer within your community, that’s not a decision for us to make,” Watts says.

Only one board member, David Freitas, voted no, citing his concerns about possible repercussions for students in the district, given a lack of analyses focused on how the split could affect academic opportunities and access.

With the board’s approval, voters in the West Clark community will decide whether or not to approve the split next year.

Contact Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.