FORT WAYNE, IN – Eric Doden, Republican candidate for governor, today called on the Indiana Chamber of Commerce to reexamine its long-time effort to consolidate rural and small town school corporations of less than 2,000 students.
In a letter to incoming Chamber President and CEO Vanessa Green Sinders, Doden said that while the goals of the policy might have some merit, eliminating “small public school districts through consolidation will be seen as a death knell for the millions of Hoosiers who live in small towns and rural communities.”
The Chamber’s recently released Indiana Prosperity 2035 plan calls for a reduction “by half the number of very small school districts with enrollments below 2,000 students.”
“We need a vision for Indiana that reverses the population decline and makes our small cities and towns a destination to live, work and raise a family as opposed to plans that are perceived to give up on them entirely,” Doden wrote. “For far too long, our state has ignored our small and rural communities and had no plan for them, only giveaways to corporations.”
Doden has called for Indiana to adopt a new bold approach to economic development that treats all 92 counties as communities of opportunity. Doden’s Indiana Main Street Initiative would take ten percent of what Indiana spends on economic development – around $100 million per year – and redirect it to small towns and rural communities creating more than $16 billion in economic growth in these communities.
“Lobbying for consolidation, no matter how noble the aim, sends the wrong message to the two million Hoosiers who choose to live, work and raise their families in small communities and is ideologically inconsistent with our shared principles of school choice and local control,” Doden said.
A copy of Doden’s letter to the Chamber is here.
You can read Doden’s entire Indiana Main Street Initiative plan here.