“I’ve been working on my dissertation,” said Travis Madison, Barr-Reeve Superintendent, a school with an enrollment of 850 in Daviess County. “The one thing I know is that you can get whatever answer you want. All you have to do is phrase the question to get it.”
Barr-Reeve has roughly 850 students enrolled this fall. That is less than half of the 2,000 student threshold the State Chamber recommends.
Like Crothersville, Barr-Reeve partners with colleges so that students are receiving dual credits they can use after high school. Some graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree
Madison says that there is a group that is composed of some legislators and the Chamber of Commerce that have been pushing this same agenda for years.
“This is the same claim we got back when Mitch Daniels was first elected,” said Madison. “They think larger school corporations are more efficient and they put together information to build that narrative. These legislators and the Chamber want everything in a box. They think small communities can’t make their own good decisions.”
Smaller schools were doing well financially until the state changed the funding formula favoring growing school systems to the detriment of smaller ones, he said.
Madison says the message out of Indianapolis about school size is inconsistent.
“If small is bad, then why have the voucher program for private schools and charter schools?” he said. “Those are all smaller schools and the state tells us how the smaller class size and one-on-one attention helps the students. They are talking out of both sides of their mouth.”
Madison contends the study is building numbers to create a conclusion.
“We have found that when it comes to success, size doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s about the people. The student who show up ready to learn, the faculty and staff that are committed to providing quality education and parents who support their school and community.”
“This is really another attack on public education,” said Madison. “For some reason there are some people who want private enterprise to take over education. Let’s remember that Indiana pulled $300 million out of public education and never replaced it. This looks like their way of covering that they dropped the ball on funding.”
Mike Grant of the Washington Times contributed to this story.