"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"

"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"
aka "Miss Victory"

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Citizens For Education Press Conference: Save Harcourt School

Long abandoned by Washington Township Schools,
White River School is a blight on the neighborhood and
the cause of plummeting home values.
Save Harcourt School from the same fate.

Media Contact: Penny Bigelow 317-876-0707


White River School - 7201 Crittenden Avenue
10:30 Monday, December 10th 2007

Ironic sign posted at the abandoned White River School.

Harcourt School should not be closed.
Here’s why:

Harcourt may end up looking like the White River school that was abandoned 20 years ago. Both are located in the school districts poorest neighborhoods.

White River School is shown in the Washington township Strategic Plan as one of six “surplus” properties, and is located at 7201 Crittenden Avenue. Officially, it is leased to the Indy Parks Dept; however, the lease agreement allows either side to cancel the lease with 30 days notice. For over 20 years, the neighbors have been promised a park by Washington Township school officials. This promise of a park is just so many words. These pictures are reality.

A press conference has been called for Monday Dec. 10th at 10:30 by Penny Bigelow of Citizens for Education. In attendance will be neighborhood leaders, and school board candidates Joanna Franklin and Jack Werner who both have pledged to keep Harcourt open. School board member Greg Wright will also be at the meeting.

Superintendent Jim Mervilde has developed criteria to determine which school to close in order to save money to pay for the cost of operating the new $14 million swimming pool. The North Central pool is located just a mile north of the White River school. Mr. Wright has stated at two separate public meetings that he can use Mervilde’s criteria to justify closing any elementary school in the district with the exception of Fox Hill.

When told that a major reason to close Harcourt was that the crawl space had water causing floors to buckle, Wright asked to personally crawl under the building. That event was reported by the Indianapolis Star on November 10, 2007 in “Harcourt gets inspection”. According to the article, following the inspection by Wright and witnessed by Indianapolis Star personnel, Wright declared “There is no evidence of water whatsoever.”

A majority of Harcourt students are poor and represent minority communities. According to a December 3rd report from Assistant Superintendent Hibbard, 70.73% of Harcourt students receive “Free or Reduced Meals”. This is contrasted by the Allisonville elementary school with a 31.71% free and reduced meal student population. North Central, a general measure of overall poverty in the school district, had 34.87% free and reduced meals.

Visit the White River school yourself and see what the area residents see every day in their neighborhood. Would you like this in your neighborhood? Would it increase the value of their homes?

Comprehensive Plan for Facilities and Resources dated Oct. 10, 2007
The Parameters For Deciding Which Schools to Close (page 14)
· Geography
· Proximity to student population/Redistricting
· Physical condition of building
· The educational adequacy of the building
· The cost to renovate
· Ease of student population reassignment
· Impact on geographical area or neighborhood
· The Site
· Operational costs of the building
· Future value of the property (as an asset)
· Effect upon the marketability of the district
· Timing
· Value Engineering
· Adaptability to program needs
· Balancing Efficiency with Effectiveness


Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Bigelow,

I believe that is in the best interest of Washington Township residents to face economic reality. We are operating too many schools for the number of students enrolled. This translates into a waste of resources, be they administration and staff, building and grounds maintenance, insurance, heating/cooling, hardware supplies such as computers and copiers. I could go on.

Our schools do need renovation. More than half of them haven't been touched in 20 years. I can tell you that as a homeowner with children, if my home were not renovated along they way, there would be serious issues. My understanding of the Harcourt School maintenance issues is that because of the type of roof construction, it is a VERY costly process. You basically have to replace the entire roof, not just the covering on the roof. Combined with other maintenance issues at that property, and the fact that four schools on the west side of the district could easliy absorb the students displaced by Harcourt's closing, it makes business sense to close that school.

Yes, as homeowners, we will all need to make sure that the property does not add to neighborhood blight. It should be properly cared for, or sold to an organization that can.

Your blog loses credibility in the way you assess blame, though. These changes are not being made to pay for the pool at North Central, and to further that kind of rumor is irresponsible. There is a sincere debate going on about how to best educate our children and maintain the standard of living in Washington Township. Your blog does not serve this debate honorably.


Mrs. Bigelow does not own or run this blog. We are the tax activists who staged many of the property tax rallies and the Indiana Tea parties last summer.

We are the ones working hard to force accountability of our government to be fiscally responsible and SOLVE our miserable tax crisis which was DIRECTLY CAUSED by runaway unaccountable spending by boards and governments.

We don't have issue with closing schools due to declining populations. We DO, however, take issue with closing schools and leaving them to be abandoned.

We take issue with treating the taxpayers' assests, like our valuable real estate holdings such as large plots of lands with schools on them, with such little regard to return their value when needed no longer to the taxpayer's treasury.

We also take issue with public monies being spent to keep minimal maintenance on decade long abandoned schools. We are angered that property values near the White River school have plummeted, in some cases 50%. How is THAT serving our community and serving the children that live nearby?

Regarding allowing closed property to not become neighborhood blight, Washington Township schools fails.

Indianapolis has enough problems with abandoned housing issues to not have the problem compounded by negligent public land holders.

The school board should be ashamed of its conduct and its failure to meet its responsiblity to the people who write the checks.

Regarding honor, the school board should look into the mirror.

There's no money to continue to keep a school open....YET there is the ability to get bonds to fund ridiculous spending projects that mainly benefit one firm; that firm is CSO. The connections to CSO with Washington Township administration are getting a wee bit cozy for our comfort.

Believe it or not, "anonymous" many of us can no longer afford to maintain our properties due to the increase in taxes as a direct result of irresponsible school boards like Washington Township.

Worse, many people will be forced to give up their homes. And that certainly is NOT serving children!

Next time, please don't be such a coward and sign your name.