Hammond closes schools Wed. due to excessive call-offs, 1 day after board votes to close 3 schools

School City of Hammond decided to close, repurpose 3 elementary schools in effort to fix finances

ByRob Hughes WLS logo
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Hammond closes schools Wednesday due to excessive call-offs
Hammond, Indiana closed schools Wednesday due to excessive call-offs, 1 day after the school board voted to close 3 elementary schools.

HAMMOND, Ind. (WLS) -- Hammond canceled school for Wednesday due to excessive call-offs.

The School City of Hammond said the district was unable to safely staff the buildings, and had to cancel school at all locations.

The district said there would be no eLearning, and the day will be made up at a later date.

Many staffers called off of work, one day after the school board voted to close three elementary schools.

Now, one teacher is sharing concerns about the board's decision.

"People already started losing their jobs before the school year even ends," the teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

As a newer employee, she believes she'll be next to lose her job.

"To be a Hammond resident, to be forced to look outside of my own city to work, to have a job, it's just very saddening," she said.

The School City of Hammond's decision to close and repurpose three elementary schools in an effort to fix its finances is already impacting district employees and families.

The board made its 3-2 decision Tuesday night to close Kenwood, Wallace and Morton Elementary, despite significant opposition.

Feeling unheard by the district, teachers called out sick Wednesday, forcing school leaders to cancel classes district-wide because of safety considerations.

"We just all became sick on the same day, not to come in. And that unfortunately caused all the schools to close down, but maybe this is how our voices will be heard," the teacher said.

The district said 306 teachers out of 685 called out. Now the question is what happens on Thursday?

"I don't know what to expect right now. You know, there are, I don't have any direct information. I have heard rumors that there is an intention to repeat this. We sincerely hope that that's not true," said Donna Petraits, communications consultant for School City of Hammond.

School leaders blame a referendum loss, declining enrollment and rising health care costs for their budget deficit. They say, if cuts weren't made, they could lose local control of their schools.

"If they maintain their current rate of spending, and we didn't close schools, didn't riff people, didn't make any of these corrective actions, the district could not get through this school year and pay its bills," Petraits said.

More than 170 people are losing their jobs, and at least 1,100 kids are impacted by the closures.

The district said families will be notified by May 6, where their kids will attend school next year.