Maple Elementary educators eager as downtown elementary plans advance

Maple Elementary educators eager as downtown elementary plans advance
(Source: WAVE 3 News)
(Source: WAVE 3 News)
(Source: WAVE 3 News)
(Source: WAVE 3 News)

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) – Plans are moving forward to build a new elementary school in downtown Jeffersonville.

The Greater Clark County School Board approved public hearings for the proposed downtown elementary school following a panel's recommendation of the site during their meeting on Tuesday night.

The school would be built along Court and Meigs Avenue near the Clark County Jail. The project is one educators hope to see become reality for students.

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For 20 years, Hendrick Posey's been teaching at Maple Elementary. He's a split teacher, with both third and fourth graders in his classroom. Over the years, he's seen the declining enrollments in downtown schools firsthand.

"Part of the reason I have a split is because of our limited numbers. Over the course of the last 10 years, our student population has gone down somewhere between 70 and 100 kids," Posey explained.

Maple Elementary School Principal Denise Ellnor said the 50-year-old building has HVAC issues. Often classes just don't have the resources kids need, the school just wasn't built for the capacity now needed, especially when it comes to technology.

"So a lot of our classrooms don't have the electrical capacity to run the technology that we would love to be able to use on a daily basis,"  Ellnor said.

Plans now are moving forward to merge Maple with Spring Hill Elementary, creating a new elementary downtown. The project would cost $15-million dollars. For a $125,000 home, taxes would go up 23 dollars a year, school leaders estimate.

If plans move forward, construction would begin in the fall. Classes would begin in the new school by the 2019-2020 school year.

When it's finished, the new elementary school will go along Court Avenue in downtown Jeffersonville, down the street from the county courthouse. Greater Clark County Schools are working with the city of Jeffersonville to incorporate the Nachand Fieldhouse into the new school's design, using it as a gymnasium for students.

Ellnor said the downtown traffic isn't a concern. But the location would bring new experiences and opportunities, including field trips for kids.

"It's the best thing for the kids. And I think the staff is 100 percent on board with the new building," Posey said.  

"These kids deserve state of the art. And they haven't had it for so long. So we really feel excited about what the future holds for our students and our staff," Ellnor said.

Maple and Spring Hill will stay open until the new school is ready. If for some reason the plans for the new school are stopped, both schools will close at the end of the 2018 school year.

Posey said saying goodbye to the building that's been home for so many years won't be easy: "I'll probably shed a few tears because this has been such an important part of me. It's like a second family."

If you want to weigh in on the plans for the new elementary school, public hearings will be held January 30 and February 6 at 7 p.m. inside the Greater Clark County Schools Administration building. The public will be given the opportunity to speak in favor or opposition to the project.

If someone opposes the project, they will have 30 days to gather 500 signatures from property owners or registered voters in the school district. If they get 500 signatures, then it forces the district into a petition/remonstrance signature battle where each side has 30 days to gather the most signatures.

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