School closings likely in New Albany-Floyd Co. - WDRB 41 Louisville News

School closings likely in New Albany-Floyd Co.

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The New Albany-Floyd County school corporation is finishing a plan to cut $6.6 million from its budget.

A big cut in state funding means closings are likely.

The superintendent's decision is due next week.

Parents who've campaigned to keep schools open are worried.

"There's the big picture of one school possibly closing, or several schools possibly closing. But it's a ripple effect for the entire community. And everyone will be feeling this. I don't think it will happen just this year, I see it happening for the next few years," said Norma Condra.

Last year, Condra and her neighbors argued for the New Albany-Floyd County school board to keep Silver Street Elementary school open, as it took up budget cuts.

Silver Street and another school received a reprieve.

But this year, the school corporation must make up a $6.6 million loss in tax money.

That's almost ten percent of its entire budget.

So schools -- and people -- are likely to go.

"I'm concerned about student/teacher ratio in the classrooms. I'm worried about where students will have to go if any school closes," said Silver Street parent Kathy Ayres.

Mark Kessans, president of the New Albany-Floyd County Teachers Assn., said he believes layoffs are likely, too. 

However, "Dr. Hibbard has told me as well as a group of teachers this past Tuesday that his reduction plan stays as far away from the teacher and the student as it possibly can."

Superintendent Bruce Hibbard did not want to comment for this story.

One of his deputies has said the cuts likely will include school closings -- and the necessary redistricting afterward.

But no one had released specifics as of Thursday afternoon.

Administrators are still making final changes to their plans. They want to tell teachers, staff and the school board about them next week before a public announcement Thursday, March 4.

New Albany is not alone in losing state funding.  Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered $300 million cut from school corporations across Indiana.

"When the governor says I'm going to give you $6.6 million less than what you have budgeted, (Hibbard) has no choice but to make serious, drastic cuts," Kessans said by phone from Washington, D.C., where he was attending a conference.

"A lot of people don't understand how swiftly this is moving," Condra said.

Public meetings on the budget plan are scheduled March 8 and 11.

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