Cuts and Consolidations: Board to Hear Proposals to Close Gavit, Clark High Schools

The Gazette has learned that Trustee Deb White’s secret committee will recommend closure of Gavit and Clark High Schools tonight. Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting tonight at 5:30 at 41 Williams Street.

 

December 11, 2018-The Gazette has learned exclusively that Deb White’s secret committee reports will be available at tonight’s public work session.  According to the source, the Board of School Trustees will reveal 3 recommendations and that each of them will involve permanently closing Gavit High School and Clark High School. Middle schools would also be combined. Scott Middle students would go to the new Gavit Middle School and Clark Middle School students would be transported to the new Hammond High/Middle School. Clark would be sold to the City of Hammond and would be demolished.

UPDATE: Mayor McDermott has stated his Administration had no part in the discussions regarding the closure of any schools. The report stated that the School City would “Develop partnerships with the City of Hammond” on vacant properties.” The City of Hammond is a separate entity from the School City of Hammond which is governed by an independent Board of Trustees.

During the election, Trustee Deb White denied that she had a secret committee and, only after prodding from the Gazette, published notice of the meetings on the school website.  Despite that, residents were not made aware of how the committee was selected, who was on the committee or what information the committee was provided in order to make recommendations.  During the election, Trustee Anna Mamala referred to rumors that Gavit would close as “hype” and state unequivocally that Gavit would not close:

Hammond School Board Trustee Anna Mamala comment on social media during the election.

While the proposal is simply the first step in the school closure process, the proposal completely fails to address issues associated with the Area Career Center which will require $40M in repairs to remain open. During the election, current school board members utlized the Area Career Center as a political football in a failed attempt to try to save their seats. Trustee Cindy White emphatically stated that the Area Career Center building would not be closed at a public forum. Now the Board of Trustees will bus middle schoolers halfway across the City to cut costs while keepting the dilapidated Area Career Center building open. The public may question the process based on the secrecy of meetings, the stated intention to not look at certain cost saving measures, and the desire of the City of Hammond to obtain the Clark High School property.

The public is invited to hear the proposals and participate in the decision-making process beginning tonight at 5:30 pm at the School Administration building, 41 Williams Street.

23 Comments

  1. Secret meetings, denying and then back peddling – this is what our tax dollars are buying? Throw in vouchers and under-paid teachers that are leaving the system – we need better people in charge!

    • People had their chance to change things in the general election. Only a little change was made,not enough to stop this insanity.

  2. Just curious – since this article is so flawed (as anyone in the audience tonight can speak to) will you be updating and correcting it? Will you write that multiple COMMUNITY members presented one of TEN options (NOT recommendations) for the School Board to consider?
    Or will you continue to fail Hammond’s students and the community by being a fear monger? If you won’t update this article it would be great if you would change the name of this to NWI Blog – don’t try to pass this garbage off as actual news.

    • I was there at the meeting last night, and all of the presenters are employed by the SCH with the possible exception of one. I took extensive notes and listed each name and position. Would you like me to list their names and positions in the SCH on this forum for all to see?
      Fear is a good description of the presentation last night, as schools will close, Teachers and other staff terminated,etc, while the 2nd and biggest part of the referendum kicks in, skyrocketing the property taxes. Try again.

      • Why don’t you list their names and positions? You’ve made an assertion, now show the evidence. Put your money where your mouth is — you should have learned that lesson during the election. Consolidation is not ideal, but with the current funding mechanism, it must happen for the district to continue. The only reason it didn’t happen decades ago is because Hammond is horribly segregated and nobody wants their kids going to school with Hammond High kids. You know this. Everybody who’s lived in Hammond knows this.

        • Here is the list of the 5 main presenters who each gave a double presentation:
          Rocharda Moore Morris, HHS, Contractual SCH employee. Deanna Burkhoff, allegedly same last name as another SCH employee, but do not know if she works for the SCH. A Lafayette Teacher,(didn’t catch the name)who identified herself as such. Stephanie Vargus, Teacher.Esther Goode-Administration.Theresa Myerick-Administration. Of course there was also commentary by other SCH employees, including Mr. Boone and Mr. Burgraff, just to name a couple. ANYONE can verify this by watching the tape of the meeting on the SCH website.So, where are the community members??? You had best verify what you post, before you post it.

          • I’ve only commented on this discussion once before (Hammond Resident 2), please don’t attribute claims to me that I didn’t make. I only asked you to provide evidence to your claims. Your quote: “all of the presenters are employed by the SCH with the possible exception of one.” Yet here you claim to have information for only the “5 main presenters.” Additionally, you only link one resident (Burkhoff) through a last name, and you claim there was a Lafayette teacher but didn’t note her name. Please tell me, how is this evidence? It seems like you are basing half of your conspiratorial beliefs on conjecture. I hope you can see the difference between conjecture and provable facts.

  3. Those employed in the SCH who worked hard for the referendum to be passed, are having deep regrets. Many are saying that they were lied to, and they were. They were told just the opposite of what has been revealed today. They have been used, and stabbed in the back. Many are currently out looking for another job, as their days are numbered by the contents of this new revelation. They chose to believe a lie, and will soon suffer the consequences.
    Our students and their families will suffer too, as their neighborhood schools will close, the property taxes will skyrocket when the 2nd and larger part of the referendum kicks in, and in general, their standard of living for their families plummets. We, who were against the referendum, warned other’s, to no avail. Now we all will suffer the consequences of the voters regretful choices.

    • I found it amazing when I voted on the referendum that that there was no one, yes no one there voting on it. My guess is that the only people that voted that day were those closely associated with the school board and those in the city administration. So sad.

  4. The mayor spent a million dollars on the gym inside of the civic center . Donated a million to the YMCA. Spent millions on the sportsplex. We don’t have money for schools , library’s, buses.

      • Linda, I understand that completely and understood that before I made my comment. My point is the city only spends money on what it wants or what it deems worthy. Maybe after Gavit/Clark is closed the mayors brother can sell the property. Like everything else in Hammond the city tears down .

        • SCH and the city are separate. Why should the city give SCH money when they cant even hire a superintendent?

  5. Closing Clark would be a grave mistake. Robertsdale would be destroyed. Families would move to Highland and elsewhere to live close to schools!

    • Robertsdale residents could easily send their children to the Whiting school system. It’s a few blocks away and miles away in terms of the high quality of education it provides.

      • This is what will happen. The Robertsdale students will be going to Whiting instead of being bused to Central Hammond.They are within walking distance of the Whiting schools, and the parents do not want their kids being bused. Whiting will be happy to take them, since by state statutes they have to maintain a student population of at least a 1,000 students or they have to consolidate with an adjoining school district. If Gavit is no longer a high school, the same thing is going to happen, a lot of the parents will put their kids in Munster, Highland, or private school. The SCH lost 400 students this school year, by their admission. They do this consolidation and they will be losing hundreds more.

      • US News and World Report listed the top high schools in the state. Gavit was 31st, Clark 40th, Whiting 84th. So the comment about Robertsdale residents sending their kids to Whiting and getting a higher quality of education appears to be misinformed. Munster was ranked 7th.

          • Rankings of local high schools apparently ignore the fact that parents high achievers in Robertsdale most often send their children to Whiting High School. If you’re inclined to believe the rankings (which often skew results because of more economic diversity in the schools), send your children to Gavit or Clark.

  6. Bottom Line. We should have doubled the referendum, Built Clark a new school and got rid of Deb White. We need to raise taxes so all the rest of the poor racist hillbillies will move to Valpo then we can finally move this city forward.

  7. If I had a child in Hammond school system and lived in Robertsdale I would have to consider myself an unfit parent to send them to any school on Hammond. The decline I saw at Clark while my child was there was pitiful.

  8. Sure the Robertsdale children can attend the Whiting school system. After they pay extra monies for being outside the Whiting city boundary. Heck, you need to apply for a waver from the school system to send your child to another school outside your district but still within Hammond.

    • The Gary kids are coming here to the Hammond Schools with no problem. The state money follows the child.There is no extra money involved unless it is a private school, and then the vouchers take care of most of the cost. You are allowed to send your child to the school of your choice as long as the school system you want to send your child to, is accepting students from out of district.
      If you live in Hammond and do not want your child to go to their designated school, but to a different Hammond school, you have to apply for a waiver, which is almost impossible to get.I tried to get a waiver for my oldest child years ago, as the school she was designated to go to was 4 miles away, and the other school was walking distance. I was turned down.

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