Signature battle nearly complete, will determine downtown Jeffersonville elementary future

The final petitions must be turned into the Clark County clerk on Saturday. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The final petitions must be turned into the Clark County clerk on Saturday. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Published: Jun. 6, 2018 at 10:00 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2018 at 9:46 AM EDT
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Petitions will be collected until 8 p.m. Wednesday. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Petitions will be collected until 8 p.m. Wednesday. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The signature battle will determine the future of an elementary school in downtown...
The signature battle will determine the future of an elementary school in downtown Jeffersonville. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - The signature battle that will determine the future of a new downtown elementary school in Jeffersonville is in its final days.

Petitions are being collected Wednesday from 4 until 8 p.m. for sides both for and against the proposed new elementary school.

After weeks of pounding pavement, both sides for and against the new school are turning in their petitions. The side with the most signatures will determine if children will continue to be educated in downtown Jeffersonville.

>> RELATED STORY: New elementary school in Jeffersonville left up to signature drive

"I signed the first day," Sarah Young, a mother of students in the Greater Clark County School District, said. Young is one of the many people working to ensure the new downtown elementary school is built in Jeffersonville.

"In the evenings, we're going door to door. I'm going door to door with several other supporters," Young said.

She lives downtown with her husband and two children who attend Maple Elementary. The new school would benefit families like hers for a number of reasons, she said.

"If they can't be at the small school they've familiarized with for these years, then a brand new school is what we need," Young said.

But not everyone agrees. Janelle Fitzpatrick is one of the people collecting signatures against building the new downtown elementary school. She is a retired GCCS teacher and resident in the district where the school would be built

>> More Clark County news on wave3.com

"I'm very concerned about the waste of money and the process, the bond issue," Fitzpatrick said.

The concern spans from years of debate over how GCCS is spending money within the district, and the way they're going about pushing forward on bond issues for taxpayers, like this downtown elementary school project.

Voters rejected a $109 million bond for tax increases in 2015. Fitzpatrick said she feels the district is skirting that rejection by bringing issues back to the voters -- like the elementary -- one-by-one.

"I would never say there's no need for a downtown school," Fitzpatrick said. "There was. There are two downtown schools."

Maple and Spring Hill Elementary schools in downtown Jeffersonville will close regardless of the signature battle, due to the age and condition of the buildings as well as continued declining enrollment at the downtown schools.

Those students will be moved to Northaven and Bridgepoint if the issue fails, or to the new school if it passes, Superintendent Andrew Melin explained.

"But if we were to renovate those two buildings, it's more expensive to renovate those two buildings than to build a brand new downtown elementary," Melin said.

The district will also save $700,000 a year in operating costs by only having one downtown elementary school instead of two.

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Melin stressed the new building will be built safer for students.

Its location near the Clark County Courthouse and jail has been a concern for many residents in the region. The location's proximity to police and sheriff's department, Melin said, makes him feel the school's proposed location makes it one of the safest possible options for students.

Each side of the signature battle is calm, but cautious days before those signatures are due.

"We're trying to reach out as much as we can," Fitzpatrick said.

"I don't doubt we've got a chance," Young said.

Those for the new school can drop off petitions or add their name to the list inside the Nachand Fieldhouse in Jeffersonville from 4 p.m until 8 p.m. For more information about how to show support for the school, click or tap here.

Those against the new school can drop off petitions or add their name to one at the home of Janelle Fitzpatrick from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. Her address is 2354 Wellington Green Drive in Clarksville, Indiana. For more information about how to show you're against the new downtown elementary school being built, click or tap here.

The final petitions will need to be turned in to the Clark County clerk and notarized by Saturday. The side with the most signatures will determine the future of the new school.

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