Greater Clark County Schools expansion plan would involve closing five schools
Welcome to Pleasant Ridge Elementary School: 40 kindergartners, in two different classes held in one room, divided by a bookshelf.
"How can we make sure every child at Greater Clark County has equitable access to facilities and learning opportunities as everyone else?" asked Superintendent Andy Melin.
Melin believes the answer may lie in a major facilities overhaul, closing Pleasant Ridge, Spring Hill, Thomas Jefferson, Maple, and Bridgepoint elementary schools, while building three new campuses and renovating four others.
RELATED: Click HERE to view a report on the proposed full facilities enhancement plan.
"What we're really looking to do is have larger elementary buildings than we currently have," Melin said.
It would be a tax hike. The total cost for taxpayers would be $119 million.
"We have to put this in front of our voters," Melin said.
The overhaul would affect almost every child in the district. If passed, leaders would have to draw new boundary lines, changing which kids go to what school.
"If it does close we'll have to deal with it," said parent Stephanie Gerdon. "I'm not too excited because he would lose all of his friends going to a different school, but we'll just see what happens."
"Sad to see a place we're fond of go away, but it's part of change," said parent Steve Marshall. "So I think it's a positive thing."
Voters in neighboring Floyd County just rejected a school tax referendum earlier this week, but Melin believes this outcome could be different.
"We need to be prepared to meet the demands of the future," Melin said. "This is one of the growth areas in the state of Indiana."
Nonetheless, he's challenged by the fact that taxpayers approved $100 million for high schools five years ago and are still paying that bill.
If all goes as planned, it will be on the November ballot.
"I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure our kids have the best learning environment possible," Melin said.
It's an effort to make the dollars make sense for their future.
The school district does not have figures yet on what the tax referendum would cost individual homeowners in property taxes.
There will be a public hearing before it gets to the ballot.
The Greater Clark School Board will have to grant a final approval on whether to move forward. That's expected next month.