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10/9/2018 12:48:00 PM
West Clark Community Schools separation plan moves to state

Erin Walden, News and Tribune Education Reporter

SELLERSBURG — Just shy of a year from when it first made its decision, the West Clark Community Schools board of trustees has officially submitted a plan for separation to the Indiana State Board of Education.

The school board voted last November for the Silver Creek campus to secede from the district after a proposed referendum for $95 million was turned down by voters.

It’s taken this long for board members to hash out the details of the plan, which covers everything from names of the two new school districts to boundaries to debt service rates. 

At a meeting in early September, the first version of the plan was brought to the board. Board vice president Brian Hurst took issue with several sections, including the notion that Henryville and Borden schools hope to focus on vocational training. In the next meeting, also in September, the board as whole combed through the plan and directed attorney Jonathan Mayes on what to alter.

Some of these changes made it into the finalized plan. For example, the history of the district has been expanded to include recent events, including the rebuilding of the Henryville campus after the 2012 tornado, the passing of $31.6 million in bonds in 2007 to build Silver Creek Primary School and expand other schools and the passing of $51.5 million in 2001 to expand and renovate Borden and Henryville campus buildings, construct Silver Creek Middle School and expand Silver Creek Elementary.

The way the new boards would be configured was also changed, with the board members representing the new district’s geography, with one other member they select, picking new members to fill the board.

The boundaries — which have been hotly contested — were called into question by Hurst.

In the two new school districts, Silver Creek dips into Borden’s territory. The board voted 3-2 on the move, with those voting in favor explaining that families in that area send their children to Silver Creek. Hurst argued that properties outside of those boundaries were used to calculate the new net assessed valuation for each district. He went through a list of parcels used by bond council Damian Maggos and pinpointed properties improperly included. 

Though the map showing the new boundaries has not changed, the net assessed valuation for each new district (which is determined by those boundaries) has.

In the original plan, the Silver Creek Corporation would walk away with 56.46 percent of the assessed valuation, or just under $725.5 million, and the Borden/Henryville Corporation with 43.54 percent, just over $559.5 million. The revised plans shows Silver Creek Corp. with 56.01 percent of the net assessed valuation, or under $719 million, and Borden/Henryville Corporation with just over $565 million.

According to board president Doug Coffman, the plan has been submitted but before it makes it to the Indiana State Board of Education, it has to pass through the Indiana Attorney General’s office. On Monday, he wasn’t sure which stage of the process it was in but confirmed it is working its way through the system.

“For all practical purposes has been submitted onward,” he said.

Coffman said the district’s attorney handling the matter, Jonathan Mayes, estimated it will be on a board agenda for a vote in about 60 to 90 days.

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