MEDORA - An effort to consolidate Hoosier school districts with fewer than 500 students was discussed during a meeting Monday of the board of trustees of one of the state's smallest school corporations.

"There's not a lot of meat to this bill, and that's when people tend to get angry and upset," Superintendent John Reed told trustees of Medora Community Schools.

Reed was referring to Senate Bill 521, which is scheduled for a hearing by the Senate Education and Career Development Committee today.

If enacted as written, the bill would require Medora, which has 285 students, to consolidate with another school corporation within Jackson County.

Reed said he has been told the legislation is aimed at consolidation of administrative services into a central location in counties, with the possible elimination of superintendents and treasurers to save money.

The Senate measure includes a provision that any reorganized school corporation may not close any high school within five years if that closure is directly related to the original consolidation plan.

The proposal also includes a provision that any money saved in administrative costs through reorganization be used for classroom and teaching expenses as well as a separate one requiring corporations with fewer than 1,000 students to merge with another corporation or corporations if it does not meet standards for educational opportunities.

That portion of the bill could apply to Crothersville Community Schools, which has 548 students.

Enrollments last fall at Seymour and Brownstown Central exceed that 1,000 level. Seymour Community Schools reported 4,111 students and Brownstown 1,797.

Reed told trustees he was prepared to help them with whatever action they might want to take if the measure continues to move toward passage.

"I'm willing to help you fight this," Reed said. He also said he was past retirement age, so he would be OK if his position was eliminated.

He said there are many unanswered questions related to any consolidation effort, including what happens to any funding remaining with a corporation that is consolidated.

Reed estimated the measure, if enacted, would affect about 100 school corporations.

Trustees spoke little about the issue, although Trustee Joe Campbell said he was opposed to any efforts to close Medora schools.

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