Mishawaka School Board discusses kindergarten center, referendum - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Mishawaka School Board discusses kindergarten center, referendum

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Last week, School City of Mishawaka Superintendent Dr. Terry Barker outlined a list of proposals to help dig the district out of debt.

A referendum to shore up cash for the district, failed in November and the district is $6 million in debt.

The school board held a work session Wednesday to discuss cost-cutting proposals and get feedback from the community.

One of the suggestions Barker made is to turn Battell Elementary School into a Kindergarten Center housing all kindergarten students.

The move could save the district half a million dollars, but many Battell parents say it's a bad idea.

A number of parents spoke at Wednesday's meeting to express their concern for the center. They say they like their neighborhood school and don't want to move their kids. "We love Battell and we're very discouraged of you repurposing our neighborhood school and turning it into a kindergarten campus and sending our kids to whichever school you feel you can shoehorn them into," said a Battell Elementary parent.

Administrators believe the kindergarten center would have both educational and economic benefits. They'd keep class sizes to no more than 25 students.

The school day would be from 9am-2:30pm so parents would have time to drop their older kids off at school first.

Transportation is a big concern for parents. Battell parent Jennifer Byrd says, "We have some students who have younger siblings who actually walk their siblings home. Now, if they have to go another school or if they're moving on to junior high, they're not going to be able to walk their sibling home." Another Battell parent said, "I don't think the parents are going to be happy if they have to travel to multiple schools. Two schools, potentially three schools."

Administration says the district would potentially offer busing to the center from the child's home school.

The school board also discussed cutting Freshman sports, Middle School B teams, and Elementary School  Orchestra. Some parents voiced concern that some people may choose to leave the district because of these potential cuts.

The School Board also discussed trying another referendum. The idea seemed to have some support from board members and parents in the crowd. The district wouldn't be able to do another referendum until May 2015, so the school board will have to consider budgets cuts until then. They didn't vote on anything Wednesday evening. A vote on cuts is expected some time in March.

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