Save our Schools, Save our Communities
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Pennville, IN is a rural community of 700 people in East Central Indiana. The town was founded by Quaker settlers in 1835 and its first school was started in 1890. The town had both an elementary school and high school until Jay County consolidated high schools in 1975. The Jay School Corporation is now proposing closing Pennville Elementary school, leaving the town without a school. The school corporation, like many rural school corporations, is struggling; however, the total savings from the closing are anticipated to be only $300,000 and this does not account for expected increases in transportation costs. An alternate plan has been proposed to "Save our Schools, Save our Communities" that would maintain an elementary school in each of the small rural towns that are left in the county and would provide immediate savings to the school corporation of $1.4 - $2.4 million dollars. Studies have shown that small rural communities that lose schools have population decreases, declines in home values of up to 25%, and increases in the childhood poverty rate and the amount of welfare dollars per capita. Small businesses close and household incomes are lower due to the loss of self-employment income. The Pennville Community feels strongly that a school should be closed only as a last resort and certainly not closed when an alternative plan has been provided that would provide greater savings. Community members have seen first-hand the damage that is done to communities by continued consolidation of school districts. We are a tight-knit community with several families that have roots extending back to the early founding of the town. We have over 20 thriving small, locally-owned businesses, of which nine employ over 90 people; a strong volunteer fire department; an annual local fair; and a local library. We have a neighborhood watch, look out for each other, watch over neighborhood children as they walk and bike to school, celebrate joys and mourn losses as a community. Our school was designated as a Family-Friendly school in 2016 and our students have the highest per-student United Way Contribution of all of the schools in the county. The closing of our school would mean a loss in home values for the many young families in our town, the loss of jobs for the many people employed locally, the potential closing of businesses by people who have started independent business through hard work and the investment of life savings, and most importantly, hurts our children with long bus rides, increased class sizes and the loss of local friendships. We want our school board to support the alternate "Save our Schools, Save our Communities" plan that will keep an elementary school open in each of the towns in the county that has a school and keep our communities alive!
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