New Haven Mayor Forms Committee to Evaluate Secession

United They Stand... Divided Next Fall?

By Megan Trent

United They Stand... Divided Next Fall?

October 27, 2010 Updated Oct 27, 2010 at 7:02 PM EDT

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Mayor Terry McDonald of New Haven has announced he's moving forward with plans to withdraw from the East Allen County school system.

Mayor McDonald held a press conference today to announce the formation of a new committee. Their goal will be to examine the feasibility of establishing a New Haven school district, and by doing so withdrawing from EACS.

Creation of such a committee was unanimously approved by the New Haven City Council Tuesday evening. McDonald says all options are on the table - public, private, or charter.

The mayor first announced interest in breaking away after the EACS school board passed a plan to redesign the district which included closing six elementary schools as opposed to the mayor's preference - a two high school plan.

McDonald says, "To continue to operate five high schools at 5.8 million dollars on average, not providing the quality of education that our students deserve and need for the 21st century I think is a disservice to them."

EACS School Board President Janice Witte said at a press conference Tuesday, "The community overwhelmingly told us that they wanted us to keep all five high schools open, even if it meant we had to cut programming. We listened to the community. New Haven was definitely outspoken in that they did not want that. They wanted the two high schools, but the rest of the community wanted the five high schools."

At least 1,000 students would be needed to start a new district. McDonald says, ""There's a little over 2,800 students in our buildings. I'm going to be a little more conservative and use the number of 2,500, but I think if you do the math it's well over 14 million dollars that could be available to our school corporation to teach our children."

Witte says McDonald has good intentions. "He has told me he had 100 people come to him and ask him to try to look into this. I believe mayor mcdonald wants what's best for the kids, and he's going to look into this because he wants what's best for kids."

McDonald says in an ideal world, the new district would be up and running by this fall, but he says that's unrealistic. However, he says he will pursue the issue until all options have been exhausted.

As the law stands right now, the EACS School Board would need to approve New Haven's withdraw, but McDonald says he plans to lobby the state legislature to change the law, because EACS would have no incentive to let almost 29% of their students leave the district.

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