Frustration and Emotion Rule Elmhurst Meeting

By Brien McElhatten

June 18, 2010 Updated Mar 12, 2010 at 1:07 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Shouting, interrupting and hard feelings ran rampant during a public meeting on the possible closure of Elmhurst High School.

The school has been targeted by district officials for possible closure, as Fort Wayne Community Schools officials struggle to cut $15 million from their budget.

Superintendent Wendy Robinson used a slide show to explain to the 700 people in attendance why Elmhurst has been selected. She explained the "decision matrix" showed that the costs of improvements to the building would be too great. She pointed out that the 840 students there would fit neatly in the district's other buildings without overflow. She also said that the offerings of advanced courses at Elmhurst aren't enough.

While many of those in attendance disagreed with the reasons Robinson gave. Some parents feel their questions were not answered.

"This meeting is a waste of time. They already have their decision made. And all these parents and all these students are struggling to try to save this school. They've already made their mind up!" exclaimed Elmhurst parent John Bullock.

"I feel my question was answered," explained parent Roberta Sexton. "But I feel quite strongly that they have already made their decision. They are just allowing us to voice our opinions about it."

Dozens of parents, teachers and students lined up behind two microphones on either side of the auditorium, many leaving with their heads shaking out of frustration.

Some are still reeling from the near closure of Elmhurst in 2007. After pleas from the community, board members changed their minds. But many parents and students say Doctor Robinson has had her eyes on Elmhurst ever since.

District officials insist they have not made a final decision on the matter and say closing any school pains them a great deal.

Two more meetings are scheduled.

One will be about the proposed closing of Pleasant Center Elementary. That will take place March 16th at 6pm at Pleasant Center Elementary.

A public budget meeting will be held March 18th at 6pm at the Grile Administrative Building on South Clinton.

A final decision on the proposed closures will be made on March 22nd.

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