Blackford Schools Supt. Chad Yencer told members of the school board last week that consolidation of the school system was still on track.

    According to the Blackford Bruin Project proposed timeline, the consolidation of the junior high school and high school would be begin next year on May 1, and be complete by Aug. 1.

    The plan calls for the two schools to combine, with students in grades seven through 12 attending Blackford High School.

    The consolidation of the elementary schools would not occur until May 1, 2019, with the process complete in August of that year.

    The project has Montpelier Elementary remaining as a K-6 grade school. The junior high school would consolidate as a K-6 Building, and Northside Elementary will be converted over to the administration building.

    The plan calls for the closure of the administration building and Southside Elementary.

    Faced with declining student enrollment and loss of funds, school officials earlier this year approved the consolidation plan.

    The school system currently operates six facilities, five schools and the administration building. But the consolidation proposal approved during the board’s Feb. 21 meeting means the school system will begin operating on a four-building system.

    At this time, the corporation includes the administration building, Southside Elementary, Northside Elementary, Montpelier Elementary, Blackford Junior High and Blackford High School.    

    During a presentation on the proposed consolidation, then Supt. Scot Croner said the school corporation was losing annually about $374,024 due to the loss of about 56 students per year. He said the school system has been faced with declining enrollment the past 10 years. State funding for school systems in Indiana is based on the number of students enrolled. Schools receive an average of about $6,679 per year.

    In September of 2013, the school system had a total enrollment of 1807. Last month, the school system reported a total enrollment of 1702.

    A shrinking student body also means that school buildings are not be utilized at their maximum capacity, which leads to a higher than average operating cost per student.

    It was noted that consolidation would also save funds due to the need for less employees, mostly administration and cafeteria jobs.

    During the 2013-14 school year, the corporation employed 229.5 employees at a cost of $14,387,820. Last year, the system employed 227 employees at a cost of $13,431,118.

    Once the consolidation takes place, it’s anticipated the number of employees would decrease to 212, or possibly less, resulting in a savings of $1.3 million.