Tug of War Over Monroeville Elementary

By Megan Trent

May 2, 2012 Updated May 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM EDT

MONROEVILLE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - The tug of war match over an empty school building is heating up.

Monroeville Elementary has sat vacant for nearly a year after the East Allen County Schools board voted to close the building as part of the district's redesign plan.

There was initial push back from the small Monroeville community, but recently EACS and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend came up with another use for the school building.

The diocese planned to buy the building and move in students from St. Joseph Hessen Cassel Catholic School, an aging grade school in Monroeville in need of repair and additional space.

EACS board members approved the sale last month, but now that purchase has been halted.

The Indiana State Charter Schools Association contacted the diocese and district to say the move violates a 2011 state law that requires empty school buildings be put on a list through the Indiana Department of Education for four years. During that time charter schools can lease the property for just $1.

It's not yet clear if any specific charter schools have made sincere inquiries about the property.

Diocesan director of communications Sean McBride says, "The diocese has made a good faith offer to the East Allen County School systems to pay $189,000 for that school building. It doesn't seem like good public policy."

Douglas Castle is a Monroeville resident, and he too is upset about the possibility of the sale falling through. "There's a lot of kids here who need to have the school. This has been empty for about a year, and they had a chance to get it. They should have got it then. Give it to the school. They got the money raised through a lot of pledges, and I think they deserve it."

Since the sale isn't final yet, McBride says the diocese will spend the 90 day due diligence window to look into the legality of the sale.

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