Hammond, Indiana considers plan to close 3 schools due to budget deficit

HAMMOND, Ind. (WLS) -- Facing a budget deficit of more than $10 million, the school district in Hammond, Indiana is looking at a plan to close elementary schools and eliminate jobs.

At a public work session on Wednesday, Superintendent Scott Miller recommended closing three elementary schools in Hammond: Columbia, Lafayette and Miller.

Parents said that their biggest concerns for these schools closing are the impacts it will have on the quality of their children's education.

Mother of two Yanna Moore lives just a few blocks away from Lafayette Elementary School where her kids go. She said it's not fair to the families who rely on the proximity of the school for their child's education.

"A lot of the kids are going to be left out as far as being able to get to school that is my biggest concern," she said.

Parents are also concerned with what that means for classroom size, and they want to know how much individual attention their children will get.

"They're already at 24 (a class) now. They were at 17 when it was four classes, so 24 is a big number already. So what are they going to do?" asked Amelia Castro.

This isn't the first time the district proposed closing schools. Despite approving a $70 million operating referendum to pay for ongoing teacher salaries, staff, and programs, they are proposing closings again.

"When I first started working here they tried to close it within four years of when I was here, but they got a new principal, it got remodeled and everything was chill and now they're doing it again," said Antonio Alvarez, a former teacher whose grandkids attend Lafayette.

Parents said they don't feel like they are getting the answers the need as the end of the school year approaches.

"They said they aren't able to tell me anything and it's sad," said Moore.

At this point, the closing of the three schools is only a proposal. The school board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Clark Middle School, where a final decision will be made.
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