Wells County Schools Split 3 Ways Under Reorganization Plan A
Plan A, calling for a three-way division of school districts in Wells County, has been tentatively adopted by the School Reorganization Committee as the result of a five-to-four vote to discard the proposed county-wide merger.
The northern district would include Union, Jefferson, Rockcreek and Lancaster Twps.; the southern district would include Liberty, Jackson, Chester and Nottingham Twps.; and Bluffton and Harrison Twp. would comprise the center district.
The northern district would include a total of 1,966 students based on 1960-61 initial enrollments figures, 1,423 in elementary and 43 in high school grades.
The maximum distance to a central point, which would be approximately at the junction of our townships, would be 14 miles.
The northern district would be the “wealthiest” of the three proposed areas, with a total tax valuation of about $17 million.
The study committee envisioned a seven-member school board for the northern district. This hypothetical board would include two members elected each from Jefferson and Lancaster, one each from Union and Rockcreek and one elected at-large.
The southern district would have a central point northeast of the present site of Chester Center School for a maximum distance from any point in the district of 13 miles.
The southern district would have the lowest relative population, 1092 students, and tax valuation, $11 million. Enrollment would include, based on the current initial figures, 793 in elementary and 299 in high school grades.
A five-member board would be proposed. One member would be elected from each of the four townships and one member would be elected at-large.
Bluffton district would change the picture of the present Bluffton school system only in revision of the school board size and its incorporation of Harrison Twps. education facilities.
Maximum distance from any point to Bluffton is nine miles. The central district would rank between the other two districts in both enrollment and tax base figures. The area represents 2,004 students, 1,682 in elementary and 422 in high school grades, and a total tax valuation of approximately $13 million.A seven-member board is proposed including four Bluffton representatives, two township members and one elected at-large
The pros and cons of Plan A, reflecting the viewpoint of the county study committee and their representative township advisory groups from earlier studies, are as follows:
Distance is normal for buses, no greater than under the township system (a bus travels until it is filled)
Could be used as a first step towards a county wide system which might have more advantages
Geographical centers of areas north and center would be the same.
All school corporations would be within the county.
Bigger and better than a small township system, to increase special services such as book rental and visual aid equipment.
All old buildings could be used. When enrollment increases enough, new buildings could be placed in planned locations.
School board members could be selected from each township city to make local representation reality close to their own school problems.
A greater variety of courses could be offered than under present system.
A larger tax base than the present, making it more possible (economical) in buying and more class subjects.
Residents in each area would have many things in common.
Would not mix city and rural students
Boundaries within the county become barriers between schools areas. Two buses might be required to travel boundary routes to pick up children on opposite sides.
Some corporations are in debt. When united with those debt-free both or all must help pay.
There would be no county system. Each area would be complete in itself – with a superintendent and school board.
Three areas might still be too small to provide the best possible education.
The southern area would have the smallest enrollment and the fewest education possibilities while students would travel the longest distance.
The Bluffton area would benefited very little, in that the student transfer from the township to the city school would be by law rather than voluntarily as at present.
Wells county schools split 3 ways under reorganization plan A (1960). Bluffton News-Banner.
School Reorganization Group Reverses Itself; Adopts Plan A
The proposed county-wide consolidation of public schools of Wells County was discarded in favor of a three-way division during a meeting of the School Reorganization Committee at the Courthouse Wednesday night.
A five-to-four majority was registered for Plan A, indicting a switch in volte by one member of the nine-member panel.
Opposition at Hearings:
Tuesday night’s vote was requested by one committee member because of opposition to the county-wide merger shown at recent public hearings. The public meeting at Ossian witnessed the most pronounced disagreement.
Unlike the earlier ballot, which was cast secretly, Tuesday night’s vote was by a raise of hands.
Voting for Plan A were committee members from Chester, Liberty, Rockcreek, Union and Lancaster. Continued favor for Plan D (county-wide consolidation) was registered by Harrison, Jefferson, Jackson, and Nottingham representatives.
Herman Osborn, Chester Twp. farmer, informed the group that he had changed his vote in favor of the three-way division as the result of a poll conducted among parents of Chester Center School students.
Trustee Polls Parents:
Verlice Crosby, trustee of Chester Twp., said today he distributed approximately 160 ballots though students asking township resident to indicate which of the proposed school merger proposals they preferred.
Crosby stated that 87 ballots were returned, 70 in favor of Plan A and 17 in favor of Pan D.
Mrs Gale Miller, secretary and Nottingham Twp. member of the panel, said that group discussed a nine page letter protesting the county-wide merger and written by Fred Borton of near Craigville.
Vote Follows Discussion:
Borton reportedly had registered his opposition to the single unit first at the Ossian public hearing. He is a native of Union Twp. and has resided on the farm near Craigville for about 7 years, according to Walter W Speheger, treasure and Lancaster Twp. member of the committee.
The vote followed a discussion of Borton’s protest and a review of three public hearings. A first show of hands revealed a five-to-three division with Bluffton Supt. Edwin E. Prible abstaining because of his position as committee chairman.
Prible then stated that he originally voted for Plan D and continued to favor the single unit, thus making the final vote five-to-four, according to Mrs Miller.
Next Meeting October 4th:
Mrs Miller stated that the committee will concentrate on Plan A as a result of the decision. She said the members did not know if additional public hearings would be required before submission of the plan for state approval. The next meeting will be Oct. 4.
Prible was unavailable for comment as he was attending a workshop session of the Indiana School Board Association today at the Severin Hotel in Indianapolis.
It is expected that Bluffton would continue to be the focal point of the center district, with geographic midpoints in the other districts falling near Kingsland in the north and near the present Chester Center School site in the south.
School reorganization group reverses itself; adopts plan A. (1960, September 14). Bluffton News-Banner