Cass Township officials plan to go courting, which is why tonight's Cass Township Board meeting will matter to residents in the East Porter County, South Central and Dewey-Prairie school districts. One of those three could end up merging with Cass Township.
A survey of Cass Township (Wanatah area) residents has been conducted, asking whether to merge with East Porter, South Central (Union Mills and Hanna) or Dewey/Prairie (LaCrosse). The results are supposed to be presented at the Cass Township Board meeting at 6 tonight at Wanatah Public School.
No merger will happen without a referendum. But the Cass Township Board and Trustee Tim Guse seem intent on making sure a merger happens, because Cass is the last unreorganized (still run by the township trustee) school district in LaPorte County and one of the few remaining unreorganized districts in the state. They're watching local government reform attempts in the General Assembly very closely.
Here are two scenarios that could have a big impact on them. One is that township government is abolished. If that happens, the township's students and the school need to be addressed. That seems to be the biggest concern.
The other possibility is that a new wave of school district mergers could be touched off if the Kernan-Shepard recommendation that districts have at least 2,000 students is pushed through a reform-oriented, GOP-dominated Legislature. If that happens, then it's still to Cass Township's advantage to be part of another school district for a better bargaining chip.
Just to be clear, this merger would be for the school only, not for other Cass Township responsibilities.
A study by Indiana State University professor Robert Boyd, conducted for Cass Township, examines the debt service, tax rates and ISTEP scores at Wanatah, LaCrosse, South Central and the three East Porter schools -- Washington, Morgan and Kouts.
The study is worth reading if you live in any of the school districts included. Who knows? You could be asked at some point whether you approve the merger option that might be outlined tonight.