School consolidation on ballot in LaPorte County

2011-04-30T13:53:00Z School consolidation on ballot in LaPorte CountyBy Stan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
April 30, 2011 1:53 pm  • 

A proposal for Wanatah School to join the school corporation that oversees LaCrosse School is on the May 3 primary ballot in Cass Township.

LaCrosse School consisting of kindergarten through fifth grades and ninth through twelve is in the Prairie-Dewey Consolidated School Corp., which was formed in December.

The school had operated by each of the trustees in both Prairie and Dewey townships.

Wanatah School holding kindergarten through eighth grades is now overseen by the Cass Township Trustee's Office.

On the ballot is a measure asking that Wanatah School merge with Prairie Township-Dewey Township Schools to form what would be called the Tri-Township School Corp. to be overseen by a five member board.

Initially, the board would be appointed to serve staggered terms then after those terms expire the seats would become elected positions, Norm Kleist, superintendent of Prairie-Dewey Consolidated School Corp. and LaPorte County Schools, said.

Currently, the schools are partially merged with LaCrosse area children in sixth through eighth grades attending Wanatah School.

Wanatah-area high school age students are given the option of attending LaCrosse or South Central High School.

Kleist said high school age students from the Wanatah area would retain the option of school choice even with a merger of the schools in LaCrosse and Wanatah.

Kleist said advantages of a merger include completing a 1959 mandate ordering school consolidation throughout the state.

Since LaCrosse school has no debt, Kleist said there would be no impact on Cass Township tax rates from consolidation.

He said a merger with the adjacent South Central or East Porter County Schools would result in higher taxes due to outstanding debts in those school corporations.

''If they went with one of those other schools the tax rate would be higher,'' Kleist said.

In addition, Kleist said there has been a push the past two years to eliminate township trustees statewide.

If that were ever to happen, the state could come in and run Wanatah school or tell school officials here where to consolidate, Kleist said.

The proposal has the support of Cass Township Trustee Tim Guse and the township board, which in January approved joining Dewey-Prairie Schools.

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