Mishawaka School Board discusses possible merger - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Mishawaka School Board discusses possible merger

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Talk of a possible merger came up after a referendum to solve School City of Mishwaka's budget woes failed.

But Thursday night, the district's Superintendent didn't seem to think merging is the answer to the district's problems.  

At the Thursday's night's board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Terry Barker gave a presentation about budget reduction.  Since the referendum failed, the district now has to figure out how to operate within their current budget.

One of the options Dr. Barker talked about is consolidation with another district, either South Bend or Penn-Harris-Madison.

Dr. Barker explained how that would all work, but added that he's talked to both districts and neither seems that interested right now.  "If I were to speak frankly with the board I think consolidation is a slim possibility," said Dr. Barker.

Dr. Barker said the other option is finding different ways to save money or cut costs.  In his presentation he listed dozens of options, including getting rid of freshman sports teams, eliminating block scheduling at the high school, reducing personnel, outsourcing things like food services and maintenance, and even saying if the lights fail at Steele Stadium all games would become Saturday afternoon games.

But Dr. Barker was quick to point out that none of what he said Thursday night is happening right now. It's all just ideas and they will all have to be looked at and considered.

It's a message the School Board President really wants people to take to heart.  "The presentation about the budget was very alarming, there was a lot presented.  What I need for people to do is not panic at this point, it's all speculation and nothing is cast in stone," said School Board President Dennis Wood.

This is all so new the Superintendent said he doesn't have any dollar figures for how much any of the options presented tonight would save the district.  He told the board he would get some preliminary dollar amounts for them in February.    

This was obviously very shocking to the people attending the meeting.  The public did not have a chance to voice their opinions at that meeting, but they will get to do so at a later date.

FOX28's Melanie Yuill spoke to a School City of Mishawaka employee who said he just heard about all of the budget talk Thursday morning. He came to the meeting to figure out what is going on.  "Tough times for the corporation, tough times for the people here in the community, something that unfortunately has to be addressed," said Steve Bolin. "We just want to see where we're at tonight."

Bolin said he knows cuts have to be made, but he does not like the idea of outsourcing jobs like food services and maintenance.  He ideally wants everyone to keep his or her job.

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