EACS School Year Kicks Off With Big Changes

By Peter Ambrose

August 17, 2011 Updated Aug 17, 2011 at 7:03 PM EDT

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Of the four major school districts in Allen County, East Allen County faces the biggest changes as the new school year gets underway today.

The district is in the middle of its redesign plan, which saw several schools close at the end of the last school year.

The most controversial closure was Harding High School. It shut down in June so administrators could convert it and re-open it next year as a magnet school. Students who went to Harding had to transfer to other schools in the district.

Four elementary schools: Harlan, Monroeville, New Haven and Village were also closed this year as part of the redesign plan. The plan calls for eventually creating large K-12 campuses at Heritage and Woodlan high schools.

Three other elementary schools: Meadowbrook, Hoagland and Woodlan are expected to close next year in the next phase of the plan. Our partner in news The Journal Gazette reports the East Allen County School board voted last night to change Hoagland Elementary's name to Heritage Elementary and Woodburn Elementary to Woodlan Primary School.

All the changes required district officials to restructure school bus routes. About 500 more students now need to be bussed, which led to changes in some school times.

The redesign plan was implemented partly to help cut the EACS district's budget deficit for 2011. The School Board heard details last night about a projected $1.7 million budget deficit in 2012 due to enrollment declines.

But officials said they anticipate making up the gap in their $59 million budget thanks to $1.8 million in federal jobs funds for one year. It'll actually give the district a surplus of about $150,000. Cuts from the redesign plan also helped keep next year's projected deficit low.

East Allen County is the third of Allen County's four major school districts to start the school year. Northwest Allen started last Thursday, and Southwest Allen started on Monday. The FWCS school year begins next Monday morning.

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