- Associated Press - Friday, April 14, 2017

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - The school board in Muncie has voted to close three elementary schools as part of an effort to cut costs and avoid a state takeover of the district.

Parents, faculty and staff expressed their concerns at Thursday night’s meeting before the Muncie Community Schools board voted 3-2 on the proposal to shutter Storer, Mitchell and Sutton elementary schools. Officials estimate closing the three schools will save about $3 million. The hundreds of affected students will attend other schools in the district.

Northside Middle School was originally part of the closing proposal, but the board decided to keep it open for the 2017-18 academic year.

“This will give the community the opportunity to decide if we can support two middle schools,” the district said in a statement.

Some parents are still worried about what class sizes will look like once the remaining schools reach capacity after adding students from the soon-to-be-closed ones. Others view that closing the schools is a necessary step to preserving the district’s autonomy by showing legislators they have a plan to fix their financial problems.

“This, I think, is one of the best ways to show them that we’re serious,” said parent Sara Gullion. “We’re showing them that there’s a community that cares and that we can fix it ourselves.”

The district last month voted to ask the state for a $5 million loan to help shore up its financial situation. The state recently decided that the district wouldn’t be allowed to make additional cuts to teacher salaries to make up for its financial deficit.

Budget cuts are being made in an attempt to avoid losing control of the school district to the state. Last week, the House passed a measure which would take over the district. It’s currently awaiting a Senate vote.

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