MUNCIE — The board of trustees of deficit-ridden Muncie Community Schools voted 3-2 on Thursday night for a plan to close Mitchell, Storer and Sutton elementary schools.
The plan calls for Northside Middle School to remain open. Superintendent Steve Baule had recommended closing it in addition to the three elementary schools. He estimated closing all four schools would save about $4 million a year.
The approved plan proposes to sell NMS and lease it back for $1 a year for up to five years — with the sale proceeds to help fund construction of a new middle school on the north side where Storer now stands. The plan also recommends building a new elementary school on the south side to replace Sutton and Grissom elementary schools.
Baule said a bill is making its way through the Legislature pertaining to a possible sale of Northside to Ball State University, though BSU isn't the only interested buyer.
After Thursday night's board meeting, MCS issued a statement on NMS:
"The Board decided to keep Northside Middle School open for the 2017-18 School year, this will give the community the opportunity to decide if we can support two middle schools. This may well lead to a referendum later in the year where we can ask the community whether or not to continue a two middle schools’ solution for the Muncie Community Schools. We believe a group is forming for this purpose. A referendum would likely also include a new south side elementary school and funds to complete facilities upgrades long overdue."