INDIANAPOLIS — The emergency manager running Gary’s financially strapped school district says one of its two high schools will likely close at the end of the current school year.

Emergency Manager Peggy Hinckley told the State Board of Finance that the Gary Community School Corp. doesn’t have the enrollment to justify more than one high school. High schools are the most expensive schools to operate, she said.

The district has seen its enrollment plunge by about 10,300 students over the past decade to about 5,800 students this year, according to state Department of Education figures. It now has about 1,200 students in grades 9-12, while in the mid-2000s it had about 4,400 attending five high schools.

Hinckley told the board that that closing a high school likely will be unpopular, but it’s “a necessary step” to reduce expenses, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported .

On Tuesday, the board approved a $3.2 million no-interest loan to cover the Gary schools’ operating costs through the end of 2017. It plans to use the $3.2 million to pay employee salaries and health insurance premiums.

The new loan is the sixth the district has received this year. The district was authorized to borrow about $16.5 million from the state’s Common School Fund. It has only drawn about $15 million in actual loans, according to state records.

The state will likely continue loaning the district money until Gary Schools Recovery LLC, the state-appointed emergency management firm running it, is able to create a plan to fix the district’s spending and attract more students to grow revenue, said Micah Vincent, chairman of the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board that oversees the district.

Preliminary data from the management firm show that the district is likely to have a more than $21 million deficit next year.


Information from: The Times, http://www.nwitimes.com

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