The Carmel Clay (Ind.) district is moving forward with a plan to build two new elementary schools.
The Indianapolis Star reports that the board has voted to relocate Orchard Park Elementary to a site five miles away and to rebuild Carmel Elementary School at its existing site.
The vote followed about half an hour of discussion among the board members and public comments from parents on the issue.
The future of Orchard Park and Carmel elementary schools has been on the table since May’s board meeting, when co-interim superintendent Roger McMichael recommended the construction proposal.
McMichael said his recommendations were based on five community meetings held around the district. The main reasons for relocating Orchard Park and renovating Carmel are location and size, he said.
Seven of the 11 elementary schools in the district are on the east side of Meridian Street and four west. But there are only 700 more students on the east side, and the west side is burgeoning with new neighborhoods, young families and, as a result, elementary students.
McMichael also said the Orchard Park school is too small. The school, built in 1955, is at 90 percent capacity. Its last renovation was 25 years ago.
A 2016 demographic study predicted the district will have at least 400 fewer students by 2020 and 900 fewer by 2026 – a total equivalent of two schools. But McMichael has said the community west of Meridian Street needs schools, regardless of enrollment trends.
McMichael said work on the schools would not begin until August 2019. The new buildings would be ready for students by summer 2021.
The last elementary school built in the district was West Clay, finished in 2006.