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Budget Constraints Could Lead To Closing One Quarter Of Gary’s Schools

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GARY, Ind. (CBS) — The Gary School District is looking to close a quarter of its schools and preparing to close several buildings before the beginning of next school year.

CBS 2’s Courtney Gousman reports Gary’s public school district has been shrinking for years. In 2012 we saw the last round of major cuts, but the superintendent says this next round of changes will come to not only save money, but help make things better for students.

Gary Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Pruitt is now reviewing six different plans that involve closing at least four of Gary’s 16 schools by the fall.

Dr. Pruitt says the district’s lost $100 million in the last five years because of declining enrollment and a drop in Gary’s property tax revenues.

“With the declining population in the city of Gary of course that’s a direct correlation with the number of students that are here,” said Dr. Pruitt.

Dr. Pruitt says there is close to 8,000 students in the system now, down from nearly 13,000 in 2008. She says she’s hoping job cuts will be taken care, of through attrition.

“To date, we have about 200 retiring,” said Dr. Pruitt.

The Gary teachers union says, “The cuts are necessary due to budget constraints. We want consistency and stability in our school corporation.”

The news is making some parents anxious.

“There’s not really much schools in Gary anyway to continue shutting them down,” said parent Tasheka Russell.

The superintendent is hoping to decide on a plan by the end of this month, which the school board has to sign-off on. This summer there will also be a series of public hearings for parents to voice their concerns.

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