Two elementary schools in Jeffersonville are expected to shut down, but Greater Clark County School leaders say the old buildings can still breathe new life into the neighborhoods.

Maple Elementary is one of those schools that will close by next year, but a local church has big plans for the facility.

The school is just a few minutes from Toni Trainor's home in Jeffersonville, and she often takes her son to play there because "the kids need somewhere to go," she said.

"You can't let them out to play in the streets like you used to when I was a child," she said. "It's just not safe."

With plans for Greater Clark to build a new downtown elementary school, Maple will close. But just around the corner, Bethel A.M.E. Church already has plans for the building.

"They would like to work on an agreement to purchase the Maple building," said GCCS Superintendent Dr. Andrew Melin.

District leaders call it the Maple CARE (Community, Athletics, Recreation, and Enrichment) Center. The facility will focus on early childhood education and offer kids a summer lunch program.

"We fully understood that schools no longer being at that location would be something that the community would struggle with," Melin said. "It couldn't be just about a new downtown elementary. We had to show respect to those two neighborhoods."

That other neighborhood is Spring Hill. Its elementary school will also close, but Melin said the district is still negotiating a deal for the building.

"We have been working with a really well-respected, community-based organization that would also be able to provide educational supported services in the Spring Hill neighborhood," he said.

District leaders expect to announce plans for Spring Hill in a couple of weeks. The school board has the final say to approve both sales.

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