MUNCIE – Muncie will consolidate its high schools.
The decision came Monday night after a 4-1 vote by the Muncie Community School Board, which favored the single high school option.
Hundreds showed up at the Muncie Area Career Center gym for Monday night’s vote. Many were outraged and said administrators didn’t do enough to save Muncie schools.
Muncie Central will be the city lone high school; Muncie Southside will become a middle school. The vote also leaves the fate of Wilson Middle School up in the air.
“It’s going to be a disaster,” said Bill Fields, a Southside High School parent. “You can’t fit 1800 kids. Just imagine passing periods alone. It’s unacceptable.”
School leaders said the consolidation is due to declining enrollment at both city high schools. Muncie Community Schools Superintendent, Tim Heller, told the board Central would be the only building that can accommodate 1837 students. Officials estimate the move could save the district $1.7-million each year.
School Board President, Beverly Kelley, was the only member to vote no.
“I felt in my heart that there were other things we could have done under cost containment to save money besides consolidating these schools,” Kelley told the crowd. “And I still feel that way.”
Her comment generated a standing ovation from the audience.
Some still worry the rival schools could lead to tension between students and overcrowding.
“It’s just overwhelming. People say it is what it is, but it’s really deeper than that.” said Austin Jones, a Southside High School junior. “I play football and basketball, so that’s all we have.”
“We have some classes now that are pretty full,” said Riley Ray, a Central High School freshman. “Just having to double that now in some classes, it’s going to be pretty hectic.”
The School Board plans to meet during its regular session next week to start developing a transitional plan for the next school year.
“I have to help these people make this work,” said Kelley. “You have no choice.”