NA-FC superintendent talks about decision to close schools

Bruce Hibbard
Bruce Hibbard
Mark Kessans
Mark Kessans

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) – Governor Mitch Daniels has given strict orders to school systems across Indiana to find a way to cut back their budgets. For the New Albany-Floyd County school system, that means eliminating about $6.6 million. On March 4, Superintendent Bruce Hibbard unveiled his plan to do just that.

With the help of his staff, Hibbard put together 57 recommended budget cuts as part of their Budget Reduction Plan which will be presented on March 11 to the school board. The plan would mean four schools - The Children's Academy of New Albany, Pine View Elementary, Silver Street Elementary, and Galena Elementary - would close their doors. The proposal would move 5th graders into middle schools, which Hibbard said that would guarantee schools are using their buildings to the ultimate capacity.

"I feel really good about the plan," Hibbard said. "I think we'll have a better academic program next year."

Hibbard believes their plan has plenty of benefits. Currently, there are 13 classes that are split, meaning kids from different grades are in the same classrooms. Hibbard said his plan would limit that and reduce class sizes.

Of the 57 recommended cuts, about 17 of them are already in place, including three retirements and the end of a wellness program. Although the recommendations come up $800,000 short, Hibbard said they will more than likely make-up for it using their rainy day and other funds.

Hibbard told us the cuts had to come from somewhere and he would rather reduce the number of schools instead of cutting teachers.

"First choice was to eliminate 62 teachers, 45 classified employees, and 5 administrators, to equal $6.5 million and I don't want to do that," said Hibbard.

Mark Kessans, the NAFC Education Association president, said even though he does not agree with many of those cuts, he believes Hibbard is trying to do what is in the best interest of the education system.

"He has to deal with the hand that he has been dealt with and that's to cut $6.6 million. I think he did consistently [and it will] have the least effect on the students," said Kessans.

"I truly believe that this plan in 3 years, the New Albany-Floyd County schools will see a rise in academic achievement and I will stand on that and take responsibility if we don't," Hibbard said.

Before Hibbard meets with the school board, there is a scheduled public meeting Monday, March 8, beginning at 7 p.m. at New Albany High School. Hibbard will explain the proposal and wants people to give them feedback.

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