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Gary schools emergency manager said the state has been very clear that she must reduce the monthly bleeding of $1.5 million otherwise the Distressed Unit Appeals Board will likely dissolve the Gary Community School Corp.

Peggy Hinckley presented that scenario, as well as measures to keep the school district going, Monday night as the guest speaker at the Miller Citizens Corp. meeting.

Hinckley said the district has too many schools and too much classroom space.

"Counting the preschool, we have a little more than 5,200 kids. We have to close some buildings," she said.

Hinckley said she will meet with the DUAB on Friday and she intends to recommend that a high school be closed. She's also going to recommend the school administration be moved out of the old Lincoln school building and into an open school building. 

She did not say whether she would recommend West Side Leadership Academy or Wirt/Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy be closed.

Hinckley said one high school will be able to offer not only a full schedule of academic classes but also equally competitive co-curricular and extra-curricular classes.

"We will gain the benefit of combining staff members to limit the number of long-term substitute teachers and emergency permits," Hinckley said.

She will also propose that the district implement a middle school for children in grades 6-8.

Examining assets

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Hinckley said the district has some assets, including an art collection stored in Chicago and it's closed buildings. She said the school district owes the IRS $8.5 million and that agency has been to Chicago to view the art collection.

She said the IRS has liens on the buildings and the art collections.

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School grades upcoming

Hinckley said Gary's school grades will be released Wednesday and it will show that both high schools — West Side and Wirt/Emerson — earned a B.

She said there are five elementary schools which earned an F. She said Beveridge and Marquette elementary schools have consistently been graded an F.

Help welcome

Gary school board member Carlos Tolliver encouraged members of the MCC to assist the district in creating an excellent middle school.

MCC president George Rogge said his organization is concerned about what happens to Wirt/Emerson Visual and wants to see it become the city's middle school.

Hinckley, who was appointed the emergency manager for the Gary Community School Corp. by the DUAB in August, leads a team of financial and academic experts from the Gary Schools Recovery LLC, with parent company MGT Consulting Group.

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Southlake County Reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.