February 7th, 2022
To the Blackford County Schools Community,
Blackford County, like many rural counties in Indiana, continues to see a decline in population. As we look ahead to the future of Blackford County Schools, the need to consider a further consolidation of elementary buildings is apparent. The total student enrollment of Blackford County Schools has dropped from 1932 students in 2010 to 1522 students as of today. The K-6 population dropped from 1016 to 794 in the same time period.
The consolidation of the junior high school in 2019 into Blackford Junior Senior High School created an opportunity to better utilize our current buildings to offer greater student opportunities, while more efficiently operating the district. Reusing the former junior high school, now Blackford Intermediate School, moved elementary programming into our two largest elementary schools in the Hartford City attendance area. This allowed for the closure of Southside Elementary in 2020, which BCS was able to sell in the fall of 2021.
Despite these measures, the current configuration of our elementary programming does not effectively utilize our facilities. There are empty classrooms in every elementary school, and Montpelier Elementary uses just 27% of the classrooms available. In fact, MES currently has an enrollment of 143 students, has 2 small Kindergarten classes, and one class per grade level in grades K-6. The open space at Blackford Intermediate and Northside is more than sufficient to house all the students we serve at Montpelier, while still providing small class sizes for all students. Making this move would also increase student access to programming and extracurricular activities and benefit teachers by providing increased grade level collaboration opportunities.
At the January 18 school board meeting, the board voted to direct the administration to develop a consolidation proposal for consideration. During the February 15th board meeting, initial planning for the proposal will be presented. The board is also planning a public work session at Montpelier Elementary for March 8th at 6 p.m. to review the factors leading to this consideration, the consolidation proposal, and next steps in continuing to serve Montpelier students and the MES community. A timeline for voting on the proposal will be determined during upcoming meetings.
As a child of parents who graduated from Montpelier High School, I understand the weight and impact of such a consideration to our community. While it is extremely difficult to consider another round of consolidation, it is prudent, given the enrollment of our district. We invite you to attend the meetings listed above as we address your questions and concerns regarding the elementary programming planning process.
Blackford County Schools