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4/16/2018 11:54:00 AM
West Clark Community Schools Corp. teachers: Reconsider divorce

Erin Walden, News and Tribune Education Reporter

SELLERSBURG — Teachers are speaking out about the possible divorce of West Clark Community Schools Corp.

West Clark Teachers’ Association President Sarah Craft addressed the school board Thursday night, explaining that she had surveyed teachers in the corporation to see where they stood.

In Craft’s survey, 222 of 289 teachers responded and 170 of those responses indicated they want the board to reconsider operation and 38 indicated they wanted Silver Creek to secede.

“They cited loss of student programming, loss of shared services, loss of enrollment and inability to maintain current building and facility repairs as chief concerns related to separation,” Craft said.

The survey was broken down by school and, according to Craft, the majority at each campus prefer reconsideration.

“I know discussions like the one taking place invoke deep and emotional responses,” said Craft, who noted she was speaking on behalf of the majority. “I also know, from personal experience, that sometimes one’s words are not accurately related by others. But none of that changes these survey results. Despite a large majority saying ‘let’s stop going down the current

path we are on,’ can I tell you what the desired next steps would be if this separation pathway were halted? I cannot. What I can say is our teachers have firsthand knowledge of what your students need, and we want to be included in decisions of where we head next.”

She also said she worries that the separation is drawing away from the original goal: repairing Silver Creek High School.

Following Craft’s comments, another teacher addressed the board.

Amy Whitlatch, a parent, graduate, Sellersburg resident and teacher at Henryville High School, said she “simply cannot understand and [has] completely been appalled by those who believe this district can be divided without risking the current educational curriculum and staffing. Those providing direct services know the current levels of educational programming and the ability to meet the distinctly different needs of each of our students will not be financially feasible if we separate.”

Whitlatch said she thinks if the separation were to occur, future tax dollars would go to using the Silver Creek campus, and its extra programming, as a “missing link” or bringing those services to Borden and Henryville. “I’m not saying we should remain three high schools. I’m not saying we should consolidate. I am saying we all need to take a step back, figure out what makes us attractive

to others, focus on the programs that make us successful, expand them, and stop spending money on an unrealistic process that drains my tax dollars with no real defining time schedule,” Whitlatch said.

Later in the meeting, board secretary Crystal Gunther addressed the comment made about using tax dollars on the process.

According to Gunther, $8,200 has been spent so far on looking into splitting up the district. There were high costs, Gunther said, associated with the referendum, but the cost of the subsequent vote to redistrict has been low.

Gunther also said she was worried about the accuracy of the survey, explaining that the board have been given three so far and, at least on the most recent one she had received, one-third of teachers chose not to participate.

“My only concern is are the comments that were made tonight by [Craft] truly representative of the entire majority. That’s my only concern. And, is there another voice that would like to be heard?” Gunther said.

Related Stories:
• West Clark teachers question board's vote for separation
• Crown Point schools asking voters to keep $35 million, 7-year referendum
• Political action committee helping Anderson make its case for referendums

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